Bookstores — Missoula, Montana

So Cheri wrote a post about Hawaii, where we live, not having any bookstores (and then she went off on a tangent).

IMAG0275I recently went on a trip to Missoula, Montana to visit a friend and my two requirements were one, that we eat a ton of donuts, and two, that we go to a bunch of independent bookstores. Requirement one, unfortunately, went unfulfilled, but we did go to bunch of bookstores which was like ascending to heaven for me. There were new books and used books and both at some of the stores. It was a revelation because the business model hadn’t occurred to me that you would be able to sell new books for cheaper. Cheaper is always appealing to me.

The first bookstore we went to was…closed. And I was worried how this is how the rest of the trip would go. Luckily, it was not a precursor of what was going to happen. After spending the day meandering around town, when headed back we popped into Fact and Fiction books where they sold an amazing amount of local books. The entire front half of the store held books solely from Missoula authors as well as literary magazines from a collection cultivated by the undergraduates at the local college all the way to the pacific. The one curated by the undergraduates is called The Oval (https://www.umt.edu/theoval/)  and held a few interesting pieces that shed some light on the culture in the area that I was unaware of (Native American mainly).
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I did end up purchasing a few of the literary books, the two that I mentioned. We ended up going back for the pacific book, called Pacifica (http://www.pacificareview.com/) because I was thoroughly interested in the fiction selections chosen.

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The next bookstore was called Shakespeare & Co, Booksellers. They were more of a traditional variety of bookstore selling mainly new books and journals. They had an interesting selection of greeting cards that varied from the ironic to the hilariously inappropriate. They also had a large number of Asian philosophy books. One thing that they had was chosen books laid out with a piece of paper in them explaining why they were someone’s favorite book and a summary of why they were so. It was interesting and I found myself wanting to pick up books that I normally would’ve passed by. Here I picked up a The Best American Short Stories of 2014 and a journal to take notes in for the convention I was going to (more on this in a later post).

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The Book Exchange had new and used books and was a huge store. They also had a bathroom (which is something a lot of bookstores here used to lack when we did have bookstores). They also had picks from staffers and held sections for school books and literary books as well as religious books (mostly Christian from what I saw). They had a whole area for all types of YA books, and a sizable area for science fiction and fantasy books. New books were sold at a slightly cheaper rate. There were also comic books which was great because I found some Batgirl comics to educate my friends on Cassandra Cain’s greatness.

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Later in the trip, I returned resolutely to the place of the first disaster only to find that fate had changed and The Bird’s Nest was open! It held a mixture of new and used books like a few of the others, but the front of the store was dominated by nature and hunting books. They also had rare, first edition, and signed books for purchase. Here, though, I bought The Druid of Shannara by Terry Brooks because of things that I will tell you in another post (how’s that for leaving you wanting more).

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All-in-all, I was fascinated, overwhelmed, awed, and jealous of all the different book stores there were to choose from and I felt compelled and excited to be a patron of them all. I did end up with a lot of books at the end of the trip, but they were all books that I wanted from local bookstores that I was happy to support. I was able to stumble upon well loved books that I had forgotten. The best thing about finding them used was seeing that they had been well treated by others. I got to see books that I might otherwise skipped over if not for having them pointed out by passionate owners and workers giving each store, and their book selections, a unique and curated feel.

In conclusion, WE NEED BOOKSTORES IN HAWAII. Please. Anyone?

P.S. Featured in all the pictures is my lovely assistant and host from the Banana Bunch.

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