So I Went Out For Some Tea…

And the strangest thing happened. All right. It wasn’t strange at all. Actually, it’s quite common.

I decided I needed some air and some vitamin D, so I left the confines of CHNOLA and went out into the daylight with the intent of visiting the nearest grocery store for some tea. Tea’s my new thing lately. I stopped drinking coffee because I’m trying to keep my caffeine consumption low. I still drink it, but only decaf, and sometimes it feels like defeating the purpose. Also, I quite enjoy tea, always have. Some days I buy tea in the cafeteria here, but today I forgot, and by tea time, I realized I was out. Hence the field trip.

Went out for tea and returned with Triscuits, Laughing Cow cheese (chipotle!), a bag of sun dried tomatoes, four books, and last but not least, tea.
Went out for tea and returned with Triscuits, Laughing Cow cheese (chipotle!), a bag of sun dried tomatoes, four books, and last but not least, tea.

So by the time I reached the grocery store and saw all the fabulous food there, my stomach decided the salad and yogurt I’d had for lunch just weren’t cutting it. I needed a snack. The Triscuits were a treat, actually. They are full of whole-grain, no doubt, but also full of calories. The sun dried tomatoes were a serendipitous find, as I LOVE sun dried tomatoes and have never seen them sold in the bag before. Snacks galore!

Since I was already out, I convinced myself to visit a used book store just down the road. McKeown’s Books and Difficult Music is a store I’ve been eyeballing for the last year coming to and from CHNOLA. I don’t know why the music is difficult. All music is difficult to me, as I have no musical talent. But I digress…

The smell of old musky tomes struck me as soon as I opened the door, and I’m fairly certain I smiled at the familiar and inviting scent. I love the smell of old books. And new books. But especially old ones. It was rather warm in there, and it only helped intensify the glorious fragrance of the books’ years old pages. It reminded me of visiting the library as a child, and I got the same excited feeling in my gut I’d always gotten back then when my eyes beheld the shelves lined with books.

Hard cover copy of Moby Dick. I opened the book to the last page I'd read online at Goodreads, planted my nose in its binding, and inhaled the intoxicating scent of literature.
Hard cover copy of Moby Dick. I opened the book to the last page I’d read online at Goodreads, planted my nose in its binding, and inhaled the intoxicating scent of literature.

I have a certain love of used books that I don’t have for brand new ones. I love all books, don’t get me wrong, but the old, preowned books have a past. A history, if you will. They are the elderly matriachs and patriachs of literature waiting to share their tales with a new generation. I bought a copy of  The Catcher In The Rye, it’s pages are yellowed and some of them bent up on the edges. While I read it, I don’t just get involved in the story, but also contemplate the book’s past. Was it once an assignment for a high school student who tossed it aside and forgot about it until his or her mother cleaned out the closets? Did a college student sell it to this bookstore in hopes to recoup what little money he or she could in order to pay for basic necessities, a practice not unknown to struggling students? Perhaps it belonged to a professor, and it’s pages are yellowed and bent from being near his or her bedside and read over and over again. These are the kinds of things I consider when I buy used books.

Moby Dick is hiding in that pile somewhere, too.

This is no good for my book hoarding obsession, I admit. I could have walked out with many, many more books. Adopted them from their virtual book shelter, where they’ve been placed in hopes of finding a new home. I promise myself I will read all of the books on my “to-read” list. I will. I’m already halfway through Catcher In The Rye, although I’ve been reading Moby Dick for months. Honestly, there are some books from which I need a short break before picking up again. Such is the case with Cloud Atlas, which I am now finally halfway through, as well. However, in my defense, that one’s on my Kindle app, and after a while my eyeballs are ready to fall out.

Pretty sure I'll be able to finish this one in the next day.
Pretty sure I’ll be able to finish this one in the next day.


My list of books to read is ever-growing, and it will continue to grow. My lust for reading will never be satiated. I had a wonderful art teacher in high school who once asked, “What are you going to do when you’ve read up all the books in the world?” I answered, “Write my own.”

New Old Books


Shark Week has ended, and I must admit I am having withdrawals. It happens every year. See, I really like sharks. Like, a lot.

I’ve even acquired the moniker “Nell Shark”, given to me by my dad when I was a teen. I wasn’t only given the nickname because of my love of the carnivorous fish, but also because there was a time when I could consume anything I wanted, like a shark, and my dad would joke that I’d probably swallowed a license plate somewhere. This name was also born from a nickname given to my dad in the time of Saturday Night Live’s Land Shark sketches. He’s often called Lan, and so he became Lan Shark. Being his offspring, I suppose it was only natural that I also share the shark title. Over the years I’ve taken on more of an image of a whale-shark, but I digress.

Microsoft Free Clip Art

If reincarnation exists, I want to be a shark. I think it would be wonderful to swim freely in the ocean, at the top of the food chain, not a worry in the world. Except for, you know, commercial fishing nets, shark nets designed to protect beaches, fishermen killing you for your fins, and crazed people hunting you because they think you’re going to chomp innocent surfers and swimmers for fun. Besides all that, I think it would be real nice. I’d even make extra sure not to accidentally taste anyone, which as we all know, could result in maiming or killing them.

Speaking of hunting sharks and sharks accidentally tasting people, one of my favorite movies is Jaws. I love the movie, although I don’t love what it did for sharks. I must make an admission here, as well: I’ve never read the novel.

Used hardcover copy of Peter Benchley’s Jaws copyright 1974 Doubleday & Company, Inc.

I know. I’m sorry for my literary sin of loving a movie for so long without reading the story which inspired it. Truly repentant. My penance will be to read War and Peace twice and recite The Illiad fourteen times. I’ve never read War and Peace, either, but I imagine reading it twice would be quite the compensation for any wrongdoing.

But now, now I can claim absolution! For I have received my copy of Jaws, the novel, written by one Peter Benchley (I understand Mr. Benchley and his wife became advocates for shark conservation after seeing the anti-shark furor created by his novel and from Steven Spielberg’s movie which came out a year later) .

Back cover: Peter Benchley

And I didn’t just buy the novel, I bought a vintage (sure, why not?) hardcover copy. It’s used, not in mint condition, but in good condition. The jacket is a little torn, but the book itself is in tact. It was cheap, and it smells delicious. Ecstasy! Is anyone not excited by the smell of an old book? It’s just me, then? All right.

I was pleased and surprised when the book arrived. When I ordered it, I was under the assumption that I was ordering a used copy of a print reissued in 2005. But no! It’s the real thing, baby. Not some reissued young whippersnapper copy. I’m very happy.

To a lot of people this is a silly thing about which to become excited. Oh well. Not to Nell Sharks*.

Microsoft Free Clip Art

*My son, Robot Boy, is also a big shark fan. Even at his young age, he watches Shark Week programming, and chomps like a shark on the chewy tubes given to him by his speech therapist. Once, before he was sick, Jaws came on television. Fearing he would be afraid, I stood in front of the television as Jaws attacked some folks on a banana boat while blood filled the water. RB saw Jaws’s attack anyway, and instead of crying or getting scared, he started shouting “Rawr! Rawr!” pretending to be Jaws. His nickname is Chompy Shark.