There aren't too many places more enjoyable if you want to be alone for a couple of hours than a bookstore the week after Christmas.
I live in a suburban area of Greater Vancouver where every box store you can think of from Wal-Mart to Home Depot to Toys 'R Us, etc. is within 10 minutes walking distance (or half an hour's drive given the crappy traffic).
So, tonight after running a few chores, I ended up at our local box store bookstore.
One thing I love to do at bookstores is to take books by authors I do respect and place them in front of ones written by those I detest (namely, my big two of Noam Chomsky and Michael Moore). Chumpsky whines that America needs hegemony to survive. Well, I think he'd write anything anyone wanted him to to make a buck no matter how much of a pile of crap it is and that he's an extreme hypocrite whose only real concern is the bottom line in his bank account. His portion of the shelves keeps expanding and I'm just beating it back a bit.
Tonight, I went looking for some Bernard Lewis to put in front of Chumpsky. There were about half-a-dozen different Chumpsky titles in stock and about 20 total volumes of his amazing bullshit but not a single Lewis book on the shelves. This has been an ongoing issue in Canada: a lot of our bookstores seem to stock an incredible number of liberal books in their non-fiction sections and almost none by conservatives. It came to a head recently when it became almost impossible to find a copy of Mark Steyn's new book "America Alone" despite huge demand. I didn't see that one tonight, either (but I already bought one online for my dad and it came autographed with a personal message for the same price, so do what I did and order from his Web site).
I did a very unscientific count - what I saw by authors I recognized and knew something of - and would say the ratio was about 70 per cent liberal to 30 conservative.
I'm not sure this is totally the fault of bookstores. After working in newspaper industry for 20 years and coming to know a lot of people by their writing, the percentage of liberal to conservative current events writers is probably even higher than 70-30. So, it makes sense that those same people would be writing books on the same issues.
I did enjoy myself, though, and got lucky. Found a collection of Gogol's short stories when they'd never carried him before and a collection of Kafka stories, again something they rarely seem to have.
They also had a three-foot long collector's edition of all Chekov's works for $180.
Of course, that's nothing compared to what I'd have to pay for the autographed version.