Summer Reading in Montgomery

Most of our books are still in boxes.  I’ve been getting by catching up on back issues of the New Yorker, but it’s summer (95 degrees tomorrow) and I’m thirsting for iced tea and novels.

Mr. NYer picked up a copy of The Help at Costco just before I took off for a three-day trip to Washington.  Today, my first day back, I finished it, looked around and thought, “OK, what’s next?”

As I mentioned, the books are in boxes, and anyway, I’ve read most of them.  I wanted to roam the aisles of a bookstore and come back with a stack. 

Alas, there is no Barnes & Noble in Montgomery, nor a Borders.  What we have instead is a Books-A-Million. 

It’s actually better than any New York Barnes & Noble–if you’re looking for Christian fiction.  There’s an entire aisle devoted to this genre, whose existence I hadn’t even imagined before tonight.

Although my reading preferences in summer tend to fiction, I wanted to check out a book about the 1927 Mississippi flood, so I headed over to the history aisle, where I found more sections devoted to military history than to all other U.S. history.  There’s a special section on the Civil War War Between the State War of Southern Independence events of 1860-1865. 

I can’t remember the author’s name nor the name of the book, but I know I’m looking for a book about a flood in 1927.  It will be amongst books on regional history or, chronologically, between those on World War I and those on the Great Depression. 

And that’s when I realize that the history books are arranged alphabetically by author.  It’s OK, I find the book I’m looking for — in a condition suggesting it’s been sitting on a sunny shelf for about seven years — but who arranges non-fiction by author?

The other really odd thing is the preponderance of pocket paperbacks, something you just don’t see a lot anymore in New York.  I felt transported back 30 or 40 years, not just because of the paperbacks, but as much because of the covers and titles.  There was the same edition–with the same cover–of  The Scarlet Letter I read in 8th grade.  I cringed when I saw Pearl Buck’s The Good Earth, one of the books on my summer reading list going into high school.  Same cover as well.  How I hated that book, but not as much as Mrs. Mike, the story of a young woman who marries a Canadian Mounty posted to the Northwest Territories. 

That book I did not see, but I did spy–again, in the same exact covers they had when I had to read them–A  Separate Peace, To Kill a Mockingbird, (along with five different new 50th anniversary editions), Lord of the Flies (of course), and Animal Farm.  Many of them had a special tag denoting that they were included on local school reading lists for summer.

Welcome to 1967.

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9 Responses

  1. When I visited Charleston about 10 years ago, I had heard that the Civil war was called the War of the Northern Agression. I thought it was a joke until I heard it on some tours and had confirmed it from locals.

    • It’s only recently, I believe, that many Southerners will use the term “Civil War.” When we went to Selma a couple of months ago, I picked up a tour guide of the historical home district and noted that it alternated between Civil War and War Between the States.

      And, if I’m not mistaken, I must have begun teaching about the Civil War by listing the four names on the board. Perhaps you were absent that day?

  2. Summer reading lists were the same in 1991 as well! I guess some things never change, or at least change comes very slowly.

  3. I guess all future trips to D.C., NY or Philly will include a mandatory stop at Barnes & Noble or Borders. How’s your public library?

  4. Pick up (almost) anything by Nelson DeMille, but especially The Gold Coast and The Gate House….

  5. Hmm, time for a Kindle? Or, more budget friendly, betterworldbooks.com, or, even cheaper, bookmooch.com.

  6. Just so you all know, I picked up three books:

    To Kill a Mockingbird — because I plan to write a blog for its 50th anniversary year, and realized I haven’t read it since I was 15. And then, some of my friends who are English teachers mentioned how difficult it is for their students to plow through the first chapter and I thought, time to revisit.

    The Kite Runner — because everyone else in the world has read it.

    Ahab’s Wife — Just because.

    • All three are wonderful choices!
      Just re-read To Kill a Mockingbird with Jamie. I enjoyed it just as much as I did 40 years ago! The movie is also as good as I remembered.

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