Hello again! Time for more adventures in book shopping!!
This time I ventured north, to White Birch Books in North Conway, NH. I was actually headed to Conway to get some tattoos, but figured I could hit two birds with one stone! But not literally. We like birds, don’t hit birds. I had added quite a few books to my TBR during Goodreads’ horror week, so I was coming armed with quite the list.
Unfortunately, this is another one of those times where coming armed with a list did not benefit me. I think shopping frequently with Gibson’s has spoiled me: they tend to have exactly what I need, nearly every time, no matter how obscure. I think that’s also something that comes with shopping in your own area. I live just outside Concord, but White Birch Books is in Conway, two hours from my home. Reading tastes and the books available in any given region has always been something I’ve enjoyed exploring. Conway did prove to have some things I hadn’t seen or expected, but also, naturally, lacked some of the things I was looking for as a reader from two hours away.
I found two out of five of the books I was trying to track down. Not horrible, and my wallet certainly appreciates it. The collection at White Birch is pretty small, so there wasn’t much in the way of browsing, either. Their choices for inventory seems to strike me as the choices of a vacation area bookstore, which is exactly what Conway is, really: they carry current bestsellers, good beach books or by-the-fire books, gifts, and that’s about it. I notice this about some smaller shops in the Lakes Region as well. It’s similar to an airport bookstore in that they only carry what they can get rid of quickly. I don’t think this a bad thing, so don’t take it as a criticism, but it’s an observation that I think distinguishes some stores from others.
That said, the staff at White Birch are clearly readers. Their staff recommendations were everywhere. And they had some great choices, too! I enjoyed reading recommendations for books I had read, too, just to see their thoughts. The bookseller who helped me check out had read one of the books I purchased, and their boss had read the other. They recommended both. That’s the kind of bookstore conversation I live for! 🙂
Okay, now this is going to be a really weird observation. Hold onto your hats. This is a big complaint of mine, even if it’s a silly, small thing: there was no music playing in White Birch Books. Not classical. Not light cafe music. Nothing. Nada. I was afraid to walk because YOU COULD HEAR MEEEEE. I hate going in places and having it be that quiet; I think it’s really anxiety inducing. I almost popped an earbud in while I browsed, like I do at my office when it’s too quiet. I would make the argument that maybe it was to help people concentrate, but this really wasn’t set up as the kind of store you linger in. There’s no cafe, and there’s very few tables or chairs. So why, I ask you, can’t we have some soft jazz?? I could hear my stomach digesting my Crunchwrap Supreme, y’all.
So these are my grievances. White Birch is a cute little bookstore, and if you need the world to tell you what to read on a weekend away, this is your place. Just, like, don’t eat Taco Bell before you go.
I left White Birch with Cackle by Rachel Harrison and My Heart is a Chainsaw by Stephen Graham Jones. Never mind the fact that I haven’t actually finished The Return or The Only Good Indians yet. Mind your business, stay in your lane. I’ll get there when I get there.
Hope you have a lovely weekend my friends. Happy November!