"Another question inspired by the Bunch of Grapes on Martha’s Vineyard having burned down on the Fourth of July.
"Do you buy books while on vacation/holiday?
"Do you have favorite bookstores that you only get to visit while away on a trip?
"What/Where are they?
"I’m still devastated about the Bunch of Grapes, even though I usually only got to visit it once or twice a year–it was such a vital part of my trips to Martha’s Vineyard. Its (hopefully temporary) loss won’t affect my day-to-day book habits, but it was such a wonderful store on one of my favorite places. Stopping there was such a strong tradition, and I’m going to miss it as part of my vacations. But it made me think–I always buy books when I’m away from home. They’re as much of a trip-souvenir as any t-shirt or trinket. Better, even! And it occurs to me that I can’t be the only one of us who does that, huh?"
It is, to me, a singular pleasure to have the time and leisure to shop for books while vacationing. It is treasured time to be anticipated as much as any other component of getting away from it all. I also enjoy the serendipitous times that permit spontaneous book shopping such as happened when I was near bookstalls at train stations.
Three of my best-loved vacation bookshops closed their doors several years ago. Imagine a rabbit warren furnished with close-packed, overflowing bookshelves, and you have the Brynn Mawr-Vassar Book Store in the Oakland section of Pittsburgh, Pa. A friend introduced me to it in the 1970s. The other bookshops were in downtown Pittsburgh, and they are closed now, too. I no longer remember their names. One of those downtown places was also a stationer's shop, a delight for me. A beautiful cat, named Smoky, was in residence and presided over the shop. The other store specialized in old, rare, out-of-print and unusual books. There was always something to see there. It was somewhat seedy, and the proprietors were peculiar, just the sort of place one reads about or sees in movies. It was the perfect setting for a murder mystery or ,perhaps, a magical fantasy.
My favorite bookshop is still a going concern, but I've been unable to visit it in a couple of years. It offers a dozen rooms of books in a graceful, old house that sat on a picturesque, green and tree-shaded city square. The shop was well-stocked and neat as a pin. It offered knowledgeable, personable clerks plus - - of all things - - a sweet dachshund that trotted freely among the rooms.