I spent almost three hours this morning in a large Barnes & Noble store near me...just wandering the shelves, marveling at the large number of people inside the store, and even snagging one of the three or four comfortable chairs in the store for a few minutes. Regular B&N shoppers will know how hard it can be to find a nice out-of-the-way place in any of the stores these days to rest the legs and back for a few minutes. I spent those "resting" minutes wisely going through the seven or eight books I was carrying around so that I could choose the two or three I could actually afford to buy today.
It wasn't easy to put so many books back on the shelves, but I did remember to create a written want-list that I will be revisiting sometime next year. For some reason, I found myself particularly intrigued by the Science Fiction section of the store, something that hasn't happened to me in a number of years. Lately if my SciFi reading doesn't pertain to time travel, it doesn't happen. But I stumbled upon a book called The Sand Men by British author Christopher Fowler that promises to be something special.
I did the usual: read the cover information, flipped over to the backside of the paperback to read the publisher description of the plot, and started reading the first chapter. The Sand Men is set in a Middle Eastern gated community for ex-pat families of foreign workers there (a lifestyle I've experienced firsthand), so that is a good sign. And it seems to be mixing the elements of science fiction, political thriller, and fantasy novel into a package that can lead in countless directions. But it was when a Muslim handyman froze to death in the sand of a resort beach so hot that tourists had abandoned it in favor of the hotel's air conditioned bar, that I was all-in. Escapism, here I come.
I also left with a copy of the Tin House "magazine" edition dedicated to essays, short stories and poems that have "theft" as a common denominator. I can tell you that it is a brilliant and entertaining collection - as vouched for by whomever it was in a local coffee bar who walked away with the first copy that I carelessly turned my back on while getting a refill. Rest assured that I will be more careful with this copy, even though I can still chuckle at the irony of having someone steal a book in public that includes the word "theft" in its title. Heck, I'm even a bit impressed that anyone steals books these days...