Fresh CoMo Meat: Books before Facebook
Until the last month of living in Decorah, there were no bookstores within an hour drive that were worthy. The TEAM’s arrival in CoMo has seen a host of bookstores that carry, GASP! used books. Living in a college town, one would expect a rash of crappy academic, dry textbooks with those dreadful orange and yellow “used” stickers on the binding. The local bookshops have a really great selection for all readers. It makes sense when your local economy is built around education i.e. College Town USA. Note to readers, I’m in the minority on THE TEAM in terms of fiction reads. Not sure why, but there are few and far between of the fictional variety that hold my interest. Most that do are based on historical events. Recommend all you want, I’ll gladly accept them but in all likelihood I’ll skip it for revolutionary history and struggle or Marxist theory. Seriously though, send them my way, I need it.
The first place I went to was The Peace Nook. This was place had been heavily promoted by a St. Looie native friend of ours in Iowa. Not only do they carry an incredible selection of titles under the broad tent of “social justice” but also they carry books from important radical book publishing houses like Haymarket Books and many more. It has all the characteristics of things I miss about real, independent bookstores. There are lots of staff picks (with hand written signs), book clubs, discounts, and above all a warm and welcoming staff. Bonuses are that it’s a non-profit, has a bunch of shirts and stickers that will offend rich people, and serves as meeting space for organizing. It’s in a basement and cramped but given the fact that a place like Peace Nook exists in this town, makes it worth supporting. It also serves a great place to make those conservative family members that are visiting feel a wee-bit awkward.
On one of many of the walks that the Dude and I go one, we stumbled into Get Lost Books on 9th. Not a stroller friendly store but pleasant and very woody inside. This place carries the canonicals of American literature as well as cookbooks, literary criticism, art, children’s books, news and art magazines and literary journals. It’s mostly used but they don’t appear to be killing it at estate sales. The staff were quite accommodating for newbies like the Dude and I to the store. They also host a monthly reading by a local and national authors complete with music. I’ve not been able to make it out to one of these yet but judging by the quality of the people that I’ve met who attend them, they sound like fun. That’s a lost art in my opinion. When authors or speakers would go on speaking tours to talk about their latest work. It happens mostly on campus’ now and for those working folks who aren’t totally acclimated with the mazes of massive college campuses, it poses a problem. Having events like these in places like Get Lost is great and should be celebrated.
Village Books on Paris road, while out of the way from downtown, is also quite promising. They offer 25% off on cover prices for new books and used books are half off cover prices. Admission of guilt: I have not been able to fully explore and give a detailed report of this bookstore but the fact that it is independent, doesn’t have a rip-off non-union coffee shop in it, and carries used books it deserves to be promoted.
Books, the one’s printed on paper, are not dying a slow death. Remember, servers can crash, Wifi signals can get cut (because there are cables that supply the signal!), and there is a digital divide. For those that aren’t familiar with the term, the Digital Divide is the gap between those that have access to the internet versus those that do not. It could be a multitude of reasons: geography, lack of income, lack of computer skills, etc. It amazes me that we live in the wealthiest nation in the history of the planet, with the fictionalized tale that it’s also the greatest democracy, yet high speed access to the greatest educational tool is not a right.
One final note: History is being made by the Occupy Wall Street Protests. They need your support and you can do it by visiting and offering solidarity with the handful of folks at Occupy Como. Yes, it’s here too.