Song of the Open Rd.
In my traveling days, I enjoyed most the visits to used bookstores in the towns I was in for a day, a week, or more. Going from my origin in Boston to the Northwest by bus or train, I would visit shops whenever I had a day to walk around. I’m not sure what I had to do except walk around. Other than a stint with the forest service, a job at an ice factory, and some ferry rides, I was apparently on my way back to Massachusetts from Massachusetts by way of the length of the United States. In any case, I was there, and when I was, I always visited a bookshop, and even purchased some books on occasion. I was in the “buy every so-called ‘classic’ paperback novel” period of my reading life. All I recall actually reading was some Walt Whitman, a few Steinbeck novels (To a God Unknown remains my favorite from that time), and Thomas Wolfe. It seems more than a little (to use a Wolfeism) misguided to carry three shelves of moth’s nest paperbacks in a backpack across several states and an international border, but I was an impassioned possessor of books that I wanted to read.
Since it appears that the traveling days are over for now, I’m happy to say that I’ve found a way to visit many of the bookstores in the regions I once passed through. One can search books within a bookseller’s inventory, as a kind of virtual store, and booksellers can be searched according to state.
I can’t remember the stores by name it turns out, although I’m sure I still have some bookmarks somewhere. Nonetheless, I enjoy seeing what booksellers have in stock a few thousand miles west, and the myriad places between here and there that I never got around to visiting.