I live in Switzerland, where English bookshops are rare (actually I know of only one, in Zurich) so I've grown used to getting my book fix and adding to my ever-growing TBR pile by browsing audible.com or amazon.com.
Today,I was in Bath, in England and found that I couldn't walk past Waterstones. The window was just too tempting and it was such a long time since I been surrounded by books I could hold in my hand.
True, I have a lot audiobooks on the Cloud, waiting to be read. I don't NEED any more books. Of course WANT always trumps Need when it comes to books. Especially physical books, all around me, smelling good, feeling comfortable in the hand, catching the eye like works of art.
Walking around the tables that promote the latest books, I found that I had many of them already. It began to seem that I might make it out of the bookshop without buying anything. Then I saw the "Recommended by Our Staff" section. An eclectic collection of books with hand-written cards in front of them, explaining what makes each book so great.
I really did.
And I was successful.
I only bought three of them.
I couldn't resist the retro cover on "The Thirty-Nine Steps", especially when it opens with a Brit expat coming home from making his fortune abroad, only to find that the English around him are irritating and annoying and he is out of place. That rang a bell.
The Lori Moore collection of short stories "Bark" was a no-brainer. I love her use of language and her insight into people. Her novel, "A Gate At The Stairs" is one of my favourites. This is the first thing she's published since 2009, so I was glad to snap it up.
Jeff Vandermeer's "Annihilation" is the first of a trilogy about a dystopian future. The guy on the check-out cooed over it and told me he was just finishing the third one. It took considerable restraint on my part not to go back and buy the other two.
Moving from online to bricks and mortar bookshops is like moving from decaff to expresso: it reminds you of how you got hooked in the first place.