Thursday, August 14, 2008

Seattle Travelogue Part One: Bookish

Elliot Bay Picture Book Heaven
Like so many kids, I tended to fantasize about being locked in forbidden places at night: museums, libraries, department stores, amusement parks. (Also fun but infinitely scarier: churches, cemeteries, tombs, abandoned castles. There was a lot of that in my beloved Bellairs books.) I think a big part of the fantasy, besides having all that sudden power and autonomy to go exactly where you wanted without the interference of grown-ups, was the idea of inspecting everything at your leisure, of reading books until morning or sleeping under a brontosaurus fossil or playing dress-up with Kim Catrall. (Oh, wait.)

Now, even as a bona-fide grown-up who can mostly go where I want when I want, I fantasize about being locked in Elliot Bay Book Company for a night or two.

Elliot Bay long wall
I mean, working through 150,000 titles will take some all-nighters. Besides the staggering selection, the space is both expansive and cozy, full of high ceilings and brick and steep slatted staircases that lead to warrens of book-filled rooms. (Note to child-self: lots of ideal places to hide before the store closes. Win.)

Elliot Bay wood floors
The other great thing about the interiors of Elliot Bay is the all the wood. (See? I'm making peace with wood.) All of the books are stacked on cedar shelves and the old floorboards, creaking and sagging and slick with varnish, glow like dirty amber.

Elliot Bay Photography Section
This is the photography section were I camped out for a few hours during my recent visit, blissfully alone, the day spread out before me like a blanket made from total self-involvement and expensive coffee. I also dabbled in the fiber arts (still can't knit), architecture (still can't draw), and cooking (want to buy thirty-seven new cookbooks, all expensive, but if I lived in the store they would be MINE between the hours of midnight and eight AM.)

Elliot Bay Sign
But the good Elliot Bay people need not worry about me lurking around their store at night because, really, I lack follow-through and am deathly afraid of authority figures. And haunted bookstore mummies.

They might want to keep an eye on this kid, though. He was camped out in the children's section for a long time, plus he's tiny enough to hide in all manner of crevices and ductwork. The lucky bastard.


Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

I want that blanket you had!

Irene said...

I hope hey have some sort of low lighting in the store when you are there at night, or are you bringing a torch? Could I come and keep you company, we could be silent together and whisper if we felt like it. I would hang out in the travel section, not having done enough traveling yet and where would you be? I'd bring a cushion to sit on on the hard floor and a gallon of coffee and lots of chocolate chip cookies. Without smearing the books, of course.

Cheri @ Blog This Mom! said...

I would totally love to be locked in there. With snacks, of course.

Anonymous said...

How fun!
I once got to spend the night at a museum for a girl scout camp. There was a huge dinosaur there, and we got to sleep in the "auditorium" that was set up for a human body display.

It was kinda creepy sleeping near a model of a 1/2 opened pregnant lady....

Angie said...

I wanted to crawl through the picture and join that little kid on the floor - bookstores are my absolute favorite! Especially old ones......just the smell....hmmmm.

Hope you had a great trip.

Magpie said...

i can just smell that bookstore.

Csquaredplus3 said...

I can't imagine there's even one blogger person (of any variety) that doesn't share your fantasy of being "locked in" a bookstore. Lucky you to spend so much time there!

I could almost smell it!


bluemountainsmary said...

I'd have sat right alongside you in the photography section.

I'm Julie said...

One of my favorite books as a kid was "From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler". I always knew that if I got bold enough to run away from my mean old parents forever, I would go to a bookstore or museum and live happily ever after.

Still think about doing it, sometimes!

Kammie said...

If I won the lottery I wouldn't buy diamonds or furs, I would go on a bender in Elliot Bay. They would have to back a truck up for all the amazing books I would buy. Truly one of the greatest places in Seattle.

lori said...

Oh those pictures have me drooling with envy!! I wish I could VISIT that book store let alone camp out overnight (which I would also love to do). So much more inviting/enticing than big-box chain bookstores!

Natalie said...

i remember visiting a bookstore like that when i was on my honeymoon in virginia. i could have spent hours there! i think we did. nice and woody smelling!

the (new) cheap chick said...

Ah yes, the dreaded bookstore mummy. A terrifying creature.

I'm so glad you had an awesome vacation! Thanks for taking us all along for the ride - pictorially speaking, of course.