Column: A bookman’s tour of California: 9 days, 14 stores

Sunday’s column is the second and last about my recent vacation, focusing on all the bookstores I visited as I drove around California. Not that I ever kept track before, but 14 must be a personal record. Even if you don’t care about bookstores, I hope you enjoy the column.

Side-note: In this column, which I wrote last week, finishing on Friday, I mention knocking CDs off my want list from “Louis Armstrong to Ma Rainey.” Alphabetically speaking, I could have written “Louis Armstrong to Lou Reed,” as I remembered before publication that I’d also picked up a Reed box set (for a mere $10). It seemed cooler to give props to the more-obscure blues singer, though, so I left the reference alone. And technically, what I wrote was absolutely correct, as Lou’s box wasn’t on my want list but represented an impulse buy due to the price.

But: How randomly awesome would have been to have had Lou’s name in my column the very day news of his death circulated? He was one of my musical heroes, from the Velvet Underground forward.

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  • Doug Evans

    This column just keeps getting better and better! (Technically: “This column continues to maintain its high standard of excellence!” but I like my first sentence better.) 14 bookstores in one trip is my idea of a dream vacation. I went to Chaucer’s on my honeymoon (I bought a copy of Richard Henry Dana’s “Two Years Before the Mast”), and I’ll be back when we return to Santa Barbara to celebrate our twentieth anniversary in December. And FTR I’m enough of a book nerd that I felt sad when you ended up not buying the Lovecraft editions, but as a guy who has at least a hundred unread books lying around my house, I understand the need for restraint.

    • davidallen909

      I took out the part where I wrote that I have three unread Lovecraft books at home (all much shorter, but still). Makes sense to read those first. Have you read “Two Years”? I own a copy myself but, as with so many other books I own, haven’t read it yet.

      • Richard_Pietrasz

        I read Two Years before my daughter did the elementary school Pilgrim (replica) overnight trip. It is well worth reading, includes trips to San Diego, Santa Barbara, and San Francisco in addition to Dana Point, and begins near where I grew up (Massachusetts). My copy is in bad shape, but the price was right.

        • Doug Evans

          That Pilgrim trip sounds great! First I’ve ever heard about it.

      • Doug Evans

        Yes! I read it back when I bought it. I’d first heard about it in college while reading Moby Dick, in which Melville talks about how great it is and how the passage written about the voyage around the Cape of Good Horn “must have been written with an icicle.” Then while my wife and I were walking around Santa Barbara on my honeymoon, we suddenly came across a tile plaque on an outside wall commemorating Dana’s visit to SB, which I’d had no idea he’d done. So the next day at Chaucer’s (my first visit!) I bought the book. Enjoyed it!

        • davidallen909

          I like those serendipitous moments: You learn something, and then the next day, you have a chance to act.

          Not as good as yours, as there’s no geographic connection, but here’s a story: In St. Louis this spring, reading “Ulysses,” I was fascinated by Dedalus’ theories on Shakespeare’s marriage. Made me wonder if this is accepted scholarship. Next day, I stumbled upon “Will in the World,” a Shakespeare bio whose index includes Joyce’s theory. Mystery solved! Bought it.

  • Ramona

    It’s a good thing you got new glasses. They’re gonna get a real workout.

    Happy reading. Good to have a book (or several) at hand during this rainy weather.

    • davidallen909

      Yes, got the new glasses in the nick of time!

  • Bob House

    Absolutely the best road trip ever! Most of my favorite towns and cities in the world, favorite highway and BOOKSTORES! Not only another outstanding column, but it would make a killer article for Sunset or the Auto Club magazine or similar publication. Go for it!

  • thechair

    Best column ever. I took the wife and kids on a California road trip several years ago and managed to “stumble” on to a few used book stores en route. The family had me on a short leash, though, timewise. When I retire, I’m going to drive across the country on a used book store tour, and at the same time hunt for great burgers in local dives.

    • davidallen909

      Got room for a passenger?