Sunday Coffee – A Dangerous Place

When my family moved to Boston in 2014, we had no idea that it would only stick for a year and we’d be back in San Antonio the next summer. At the time, I removed myself from all of my San Antonio things, like library hold lists, in preparation to fully integrate in Boston. One of the things I removed was my Wowbrary feeds for the library system in SA, because I didn’t need to know what books they were acquiring in San Antonio if I lived in Boston. The library system up north didn’t have a Wowbrary feed system, so I couldn’t subscribe to it. It took until a visit to SA in December that year to realize the full impact of this combination of factors.

While browsing around a bookstore during my visit, I noticed so many books I’d never heard of before. Somehow in a few short months, I’d gone from being fairly up to date in the book market world (in genres I followed) to knowing just about nothing. Book blogging was already mostly dormant by late 2014, so I no longer heard about new-to-me books through that avenue, and I hadn’t realized just how much Wowbrary acquisitions were keeping me up to date with new releases. At that point, even though I didn’t live in SA, I re-subscribed to my Wowbrary feeds purely for the book knowledge. I’ve never since unsubscribed, even when I went to live in Wisconsin for a year (not knowing, again, that it would only been a year).

A few years back, either the Wowbrary feed, or the way my feedreader interprets the feed, changed. It used to be a photo of the book with title, author, and the first few sentences of the book blurb. Now, the photo is gone. You don’t realize just how much you rely on visual cues in marketing until they’re no longer available! I still subscribe to the Wowbrary feeds, but now I’m basically skimming title and author, and not learning anything about the book. You need some indicator of what to look at, because reading a wall of text about 200+ books every week is just too much. I miss those visual cues, and clearly I miss a lot of what’s coming out in the book world, if the last few weeks have been any indicator.

***Nowhere Bookshop has entered the chat.***

We’ve had one indie bookshop in SA for years, and honestly, it was the stuffiest, least-stocked, snobbiest shop I’d ever been to. They mostly stocked Texas-based nonfiction, with a single shelf or two dedicated to **cue sarcasm** more popular fiction for the lowbrow folks who might want something crass like that. I found out last fall that a new indie bookshop had opened (in 2021 – I only heard about it last fall), but it wasn’t until the last weekend in February that I finally made the trip to check it out. Unlike the other place, it was a booknerd’s dream. Or nightmare, perhaps, as it will add dozens if not hundreds of books to your TBR pile and possibly steal more than you have in your wallet. Ha! The shop is incredible, and the few times I’ve been down there now, I’ve come to realize the exact same thing I realized back in December 2014: I’m so very far out of it when it comes to knowing what’s new in the book world.

Y’all. I have lived by the creed of not buying books that I haven’t read for well over a decade now. That’s what the library is for! But Nowhere Bookshop is dangerous. The first time I went there, I ended up buying three books, including one chosen purely from descriptors, not even knowing the title or genre or market age. (Plus stickers, a pin, and a mug, but let’s not dwell on my dwindling monetary reserves, okay?) Additionally, I added three books to my investigate list, to check out from the library. A few days later, their Insta feed released the names and descriptions for the several dozen Blind Date books they had for February, and from that list, I added nine more books to my TBR/investigate pile. Then I went out there again, and ended up coming home with three more books, two that I bought and one that was a gift, plus two more virtual TBR/investigate books. (And a Golden Girls magnet for my dishwasher. No judgement, ha!)

In less than a week, Nowhere Bookshop added 20 books to my TBR pile. And that was me being very, very cautious and controlled about the virtual portion (taking pics of books to check out). It takes me back to my early years of book blogging, where I just started acquiring physical and virtual TBR piles until the total number was teetering near 400 and I started to panic. Literally, I’ve worked to keep my TBR pile under 30 since spring 2011, when I finally culled that 400 down to zero. Under 30, including future releases…and I added 20 more books to it in under a week. Oh boy. Like I said, this shop is DANGEROUS.

However, like in those early days of book blogging, I don’t feel pressured by these books or those lists. I’m looking at this pile of books to read and I feel excited like I haven’t felt in a long time. Eventually, I’m sure part of me will raise the white flag and say stop, please, I can’t take anymore. I’ll order dozens of books from the library and use that to cull the list to a more manageable level. At the same time, ever since Wowbrary eliminated the photo-portion, my TBR has been rather meagre, and other than future-releases, often kinda uninspiring. I think that’s why I’ve had such terrible reading slumps for the last few years. Now, I may have bitten off more than I can chew, but at least I have more selection in what I consume. Dangerous or not, I see myself spending a lot of time in the future at Nowhere.

(Though maybe I should space those visits out, for my wallet if nothing else. Heh.)


About Amanda

Agender empty-nester filling my time with cats, books, fitness, and photography. She/they.
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