Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Quest for Books: Part One

While on our recent “hiatus” from social media, Lana and I went to Maine. We stayed at a house kindly lent to us by some blog friends of Lana’s. We had a great time and I’ll post more about that journey later. Today I want to talk about my addiction—to reading. And about the problems it caused me on this trip.

I used to travel with a suitcase of clothes and a briefcase of books. I’d take ten or twelve different paperbacks so I’d have a choice in reading material. I no longer do this because I have a Kindle loaded with hundreds of volumes. As we headed to the airport Thursday, I took only the Kindle and the one paper book I was reading, Three Blind Mice by Ed McBain. I finished the McBain on the flight so, after arriving at our vacation home that evening, I pulled out my electronic library and turned it on. Nothing happened.

 I had just charged the battery so I didn’t think that was the problem. Still, I dutifully hooked up the charger. Again, nothing happened. Not even the indicator light came on. I tried a reset. That didn’t work. I hopped on the net with my laptop to research solutions. None of them worked. I initiated a chat with Amazon support but they couldn’t help either. My Kindle, which I’ve had since February 27, 2009, was dead. I was without reading material.

I began to shake, and even though I’d been reading only a few hours before I felt immediate withdrawal pangs. Just the thought that I couldn’t read if I wanted to was enough to undermine my equilibrium. Despite this, I somehow managed to sleep.

Lana and I were up early Friday and hit the shore to explore and take pictures. On the way back we passed through the town of Winter Harbor and stopped at a 5 and 10 store. They had some nonfiction stuff, mostly birding books and local geographies. I certainly read a lot of nonfiction but my “addiction” is to fiction, to “stories.” Fiction is my heroin. Nonfiction is more like methadone. I did find a book on the ghosts of Maine, which I bought. I also asked every place we went if there were a local bookstore. The checkout lady at the IGA told us there was. It was only two blocks away and was called Serendipity. Serendipity indeed! 

Within minutes we arrived in the parking lot of Serendipity. I could see a book display in the window as we walked up and my withdrawal pangs began to dissipate. Then we came to the front door, which was locked, and found a sign that read: “Closed Friday through Monday.” We were in town precisely from Friday through Monday.


I did not panic, though. On the way in from the airport on Thursday afternoon we’d seen a used bookstore along US Highway 1. It was a long drive but we needed to go into a bigger town to find Lana some photography stuff anyway. So, we headed out. I parked almost in front of the door of the bookstore and immediately noticed two things. First, the big plate glass windows were chock full of books and I could already see numerous titles that I wanted to read. My fingers and eyes began to itch with the need. But there was a second thing to notice. This door too had a sign. It read: “Closed at Three Today.” Our car clock read 3:20. No fiction for me.

To Be Continued:
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35 comments:

ninthmuse (roz m) said...

This post made me feel horribly anxious and doublecheck that I do indeed have reading material with me :(

Brian Miller said...

oh man...i am having a system crash just thinking about it...ha...i had to find a bookstore on vacation as well...i took 6 books...i should have taken more...ha...and though they did not have what i was looking for it gave me an excuse to try something new...i feel for you

Tom Doolan said...

I see a simple solution here, but I want to see how this tale unfolds first. I'm on the edge of my proverbial seat!

Charles Gramlich said...

Roz, better make sure, for sure. It's a horrible experience.

Brian, my quest did eventually end well, on the day before we came home. :)

Tom, lol.

Bill Crider said...

Yep, the simple solution is to download the Kindle app on the laptop. Not much fun to read that way, but any old port in a storm. I have the app on my laptop, phone, desktop, and iPad. You know, just in case.

Randy Johnson said...

I know the feeling well. I have not yet bought a Kindle(I have a Kindle for PC). Still carry a book everywhere I go. The last time I was out of state(for only a few days) I packed four books.

I too get antsy without something to read near t hand all the time.

Tom Doolan said...

I used to carry a paperback (or two) in a plastic bag in the cargo pocket of my BDU's whenever I went to the field in the Army. You just never know.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

That had to suck!! Closed Friday through Monday? When the heck do they do business?
You're the second person with a dead Kindle this week. I'm keeping an eye on my iPads...

Cloudia said...

Lost weekend! We can really smell the addiction, lol 😸

Prashant C. Trikannad said...

Welcome back, Charles. I usually carry a couple of paperbacks and my tablet full of ebooks that I can read in epub, pdf or Kindle formats.

ivan said...

Well, the definitive, (if not
too informative)example of "What I Did On My Summer Vacation."

(I think I've become too spoiled by reading Hunter S. Thompson's "vacations." Not enough "Fear and Loathing?" Drugs? :)

Ty Johnston said...

I've been there, brother. It drives you crazy. My savior more than once has been little gift shops in small towns, because they usually have at least a handful of books by local and regional writer. Funny thing you mentioned a ghost book, because it seems every town has one.

And sometimes I can't even wait an hour without reading. Once my car was in the shop and I had to wait on it, but I had not brought my Kindle because I hadn't thought I'd be at the shop long. After 5 minutes of sitting, I'd had enough. I knew there was a used book store a mile or so down the road. The walk there was easy, but the walk pain was a pain because of the bag of books I was carrying. And I didn't even get a chance to read that day, because my car was ready by the time I got back.

Charles Gramlich said...

Bill, I do have the Kindle app for my home computer and could have gotten it for the laptop, but Lana was using it primarily to work on all her photos. Plus, it's pretty much impossible to carry with you in the car when you might have a few moments for some quick reading. I don't have an Iphone.

Randy, the nice thing about the kindle was the portability and that you could leave it turned on a long time without the battery wearing down. Made it more like a book to carry with you.

Tom, I always carry two books in my car, but of course flying in as we did I had only the rental car.

Alex, I had my Kindle for about six and a half years. Was expecting it to last longer.

Cloudia, indeed. I know it.

Prashant, I'm wondering about a Kindle fire, which is a tablet I think.

Ivan, other than a few beers, no drugs. Well high blood pressure medicine. :)

Ty, we are simpatico.

Erik Donald France said...

OOooohh aye . . .

The only thing that ran out of steam for me in Spain this summer was my KindleFire. I had converters but for some reason it wouldn't charge until back in the States . . . Did yours come back to life? I could find plenty of 3D codex books, though -- in Spanish.

Keith West said...

This, for me, would be the vacation from hell. I always have more with me than I can possibly read, usually in both paper and electronic formats. Fortunately, I have both Nook and Kindle apps on my phone.

Looking forward to how this horror story ends.

Richard Prosch said...

Holy cow! What rotten luck. I recall being in similar straights in Berea, Kentucky back in the early '90s. We went to Wal-Mart, thinking there would be a paperback display. There wasn't! When I asked one of the workers about it, she smiled and said, "We don't have alotta call for books 'round here."
I'm not making this up.

Oscar said...

I would be on a drinking binge if I couldn't find books just to settle my nerves.

jodi said...

Charles-I don't go anywhere without my ipad full of books. I, too, am a total addict. Reading is my learning, relaxation, curiosity, and pleasure. It's a vacation within a vacation.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I am in pain reading this.

Charles Gramlich said...

Erik, I finally ordered another one. Mine is deadsville.

Keith, if I had a smart phone I'd have the apps on it but I just have a regular cell phone.

Oscar, well, our friends had plenty of booze in the house. I limited myself to beer, though. We had a lot of early mornings so booze would have probably killed me.

Jodi, true dat.

Patti, you must be an empath! Feeling my pain.

Bernard Lee DeLeo said...

You'll enjoy the new one even more, my friend.

the walking man said...

Lahbstah an blueberries in Maine man.

Should have hunted Stephen king down, he'd have lent you a book or two.

the walking man said...

So what is the deal with your kindle?

Charles Gramlich said...

Bernard, I'm not one for change. :)

Mark, My generation 2 kindle is dead. they don't make 'em anymore, so I'm getting a paperwhite to replace it.

Angie said...

Aw, man, I'd have been down on the sidewalk having convulsions. :( Another reason why I still read paper books, I guess. I take my laptop when I travel, and have a bazillion e-books on that, but I still take paper books. Whenever Jim and I are on a cruise, a whole shelf in the tiny closet-thing is packed with books, even when we're only gone a week or two. I ran out once, and ended up buying a dozen or fifteen books from the ship's general store spinner rack. You can guess how many of those were books I'd have chosen to read if I had any actual choice. Better than nothing, though. O_O

Angie

Ron Scheer said...

While house sitting recently in LA I was well stocked with reading matter but was alarmed to discover that our friends had only shelves of cookbooks and travel books (they love Italy). There was a single copy of Great Expectations, a collection of 50 "classic" short stories, and a couple of recent bestsellers. I read some of the Dickens so he wouldn't feel outnumbered and neglected.

Charles Gramlich said...

Angie, well at least I now know someone more addicted than I am. Yeah me! :)

Ron, our friends also had some cookbooks as well. But damn those are hard reading. I just can't get into the story line in that genre.

Paul R. McNamee said...

Maybe it's a Maine thing! I wound up at The Green Hand book store in Portland a half hour before they opened. With two pre-schoolers in tow and a rainy day, I couldn't hang around until opening.

Bummed because it sounds like a great store for pulp/s-&-s fans.

Angie said...

Charles -- if anyone ever holds a telethon to raise funds to rid people of their book addiction, you and I can boycott it together. :)

Ron -- that reminds me of this time when I was about eleven. I had a three-shelf bookcase of my own full of books at that point, and I'd passed all my kid/picture books down to my brother by then. I was visiting a friend and looking around at her room. She had one of those wall units with a desk at the bottom and bookshelves above up to the ceiling. Her bookshelves were full of dolls and toys and other stuff, with three skinny Scholastic paperbacks huddled together at one end of a shelf. I looked all around the room, in the closet -- nothing. I turned to her and said, "Where are all your books?" She gave me this weird look and said, "Right there," and pointed to the three paperbacks. Okaaaaay. That's literally the first time I realized I knew a kid who didn't read. Most kids I knew, I'd never been in their rooms, and looking back I imagine most of them weren't readers, especially not like I was. But I'd always assumed they did, just because it was such a given in my life, like breathing. That was the first time I was smacked in the head with the fact that there are people who Don't Read. O_O

Angie, still bewildered by the concept

David Cranmer said...

I'd like to introduce myself. My name is David and I'm a bookaholic too. What you went through sounds terrifying but luckily you were in Maine (books everywhere) where it could have been much, much worse.

David Cranmer said...

Delete WHERE out of last comment. Too early for me to try and be amusing.

Ty Johnston said...

Wanted to add ... in desperation, I have been known to read perfume catalogs and cereal boxes.

Charles Gramlich said...

Paul, I'm normally used to seeing a lot of readers further north. The long winters, I guess.

Angie, that comment made me shudder. I remember visiting a friend's house who had these gorgeous mahogany bookshelves. They were almost completely filled with DVDs. Not a book in sight.

David, yes, imagine if I had been driving across a town as big as Texas, although when you find a bookstore in Texas is is huge!

Ty, Been there.

Richard said...

Charles, this tale will give you some idea of how I felt a couple of months ago, when my vision started to blu and fade. For a month, in spite of the best efforts of my eye doctor, I just couldn't manage to see more than a blur. So, no reading of anything, AT ALL.

I also couldn't watch television or a movie, read a computer screen no matter how much I enlarged the image. I couldn't drive, of course. The only thing that saved my was I had some audio books and was able to fumble with the controls of my iPod and listen to them, as well as listen to music. For a while I thought I was going blind and would never read again.

The whole thing happened as a result of a bad spike in my blood sugars (I have type 2 diabetes) that caused pressure on my optic nerves. As the glucose levels fell with careful dieting, the vision started coming back. It's not back all the way, but at least I can read some short stories before my eyes get too tired.

The experience has drastically revised my thinking on reading and what I want to read, and skip over, when I'm back to 100%.

Rachel V. Olivier said...

Oh man! This is a horror story! I'd be lost without something to read!