Memoirs of a Borders (Books)

Several weeks ago, my favorite bookseller in the entire world closed.

Borders Books was my sanctuary, my home away from home. I spent many weekend mornings there, camped out in the cafe with my laptop, iPod, a stack of magazines and the current book I was reading.

It was where I went after a long day at work to fondle the new arrivals and graze the African-American fiction section.

It also helped me to mull over writing and ideas at times when I needed peace but desired to have the comfort of people around.

The people-watching factor was another advantage, seeing folks of all ages share the same love for books (or free reading) like I did.

Not to mention the pastries and frozen drinks were delish.

Even though the demise of Borders had long been predicted, the closing of its doors still hurt. The only big-chain book franchises left here are Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million (which, by the way, I’m surprised outlasted Borders). Of the two, I don’t have a definite favorite. Both are no Borders Books, and there several reasons why:

Barnes & Noble (BN) and Books-A-Million (BAM) are on other side of town ? The Borders I visited was only 5 minutes from my job and 5 minutes from my house. Being Housed in an oh-so-convenient location was the best. It was so easy to swing in, do some browsing, and know I would be home like that *snaps fingers* with my new book. The “other” stores are much further away, and popping in after work is no longer a wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am experience for me. So my weekend sessions have been few and far in between.

BN doesn’t have a dedicated African-American section ? Though racial segregation ended about 50 years ago, I’d prefer my books to live in the past and be separate but equal. Having a dedicated African-American section makes things easier to find and easier to riffle through, in that I can see E. Lynn Harris hanging out with Zora Neale Hurston without worrying about Ernest Hemingway getting in between. Also, by not having a dedicated Af-Am section, it also camouflages the fact that our titles aren’t plentiful in these stores.

BN and BAM don’t have the same ambience ? I’ve had my laptop in both places. Neither felt like Borders. I mean, BN comes close, with its free wi-fi and addictive Starbucks cocktails, but there are no windows in the cafe. Borders had these big picture windows at the back of the cafe that people coveted for the view (and also because of the precious electrical outlets). I can’t gaze at the sky like I did at Borders, a lovely inspiration and distraction to my writing. And BAM, *sigh*, doesn’t have free wi-fi unless you’re a member of its pricey discount membership club.

Neither stores sell Curve magazine ? Where they do that at? Apparently at BN and BAM. Not selling the ever-popular lesbian magazine Curve hurts my heart. Last time I checked, I didn’t spy too many gay and lesbian mags around, which I love to peruse at my leisure. I need BN and BAM to get it together.

Speaking of ?family? reads, BN and BAM’s gay/lesbian section sucks ? Though both have dedicated sections, neither of them have the greatest selections. Mostly it’s old stuff, and things I’m not interested in reading. Borders gay/lesbian section wasn’t extremely big, but it had better titles that I didn’t look like they had been sitting there since the store first opened its doors, pages all yellowed and dusty.

So, with all that being said, I need to find a book home. The only other option is I’ve found is the public library, which does have picture windows and free wi-fi, but the rambunctious kids checking constantly their facebook pages ruin the mood. I’ll visit BN again, which really does try, bless its Starbucks heart.

Anybody got gas money?

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Saturday Morning Ramblings from Borders

This morning, I’m doing my weekend routine of sitting in my favorite bookstore, Borders, reading magazines, drinking iced coffee and enjoying the beauty of being around readers like me who just enjoy a good book. Call me a nerd, but it’s comforting. I love ambiance of a bookstore and reading has been a passion of mine since I was an 8-year-old spending her entire allowance on paperbacks at $2 (yeah, remember when they were that cheap?). I remember reading such classics as The Baby-Sitters Club, Just as Long as We’re Together (Judy Blume is the bomb!), and Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry. Now, the paperbacks are $15 and even more for hardbacks. Books aren’t cheap but totally worth the enjoyment they give me.

People-watching is one of the things I also enjoy. It’s interesting to see the different walks of life, from students armed with laptops and iPods to retirees lounging reading the newspaper without a care in the world. It’s even better when I spot a girl like me, a rare occasion. Spotting them with my gaydar, it’s so sexy to see an intelligent sistah getting her studying on. A few years back, there was a girl I noticed reading Curve and chatting it up on her Yahoo messenger. Single at the time, I found her to be attractive and even more so that she seemed to be playing on my team. But alas, I never approached her. I can be shy when it comes to those situations, and usually, I need an encouraging sign to approach a woman in public. You never know about those kinds of encounters.

But I digress. So today, I have picked out the following magazines to read: Essence (with Will & Jada Smith on the cover), Sister 2 Sister (simply to get my black gossip on), US Weekly (to get my mainstream gossip-on), and The Advocate (to read for gay issues). Every one offers something different, and knowledge is definitely power. I begin with The Advocate, which has a column about a woman’s struggle with money living in the high-ass city of San Francisco, an article about the recent approval of gay marriage in Connecticut (yeah! :-)), and an interview with E. Patrick Johnson, who wrote the book Sweet Tea about gay men living in the South. I need to pick that one up. I love reading about our stories, from self-acceptance to coming out to being in love. I guess that’s why I’ve been absolutely drawn to the women on my blogroll. We all have being a lesbian in common, but each have our own stories and journeys that make us different. I love it, and can’t get enough.

The gossip mags, Sister 2 Sister and Us Weekly, offer the same ole thing, but Essence is one of my favorites. The article about Will and Jada is just beautiful, wherein they interview each other about love, marriage and children. The way they interact is just real and refreshing. Listen to this quote from Will to Jada:

“Well, the truth about life is that we’re all alone. But when somebody loves you, right, that experience is shared. Love is the only real connective tissue that allows you to not live and die by yourself. It gives you purpose beyond you. You don’t necessarily have to get married have that, but I’ve always wanted to be married. I knew you were that person for me because you’re loyal, to a fault…”

That’s deep. And considering the fallout from the defeat of gay marriage in California and Florida, it seems to be right on time, and leads me to think of something I read recently about gay marriage. Elton John, that flamboyantly gay icon, said he thinks gays had it wrong when it came to California’s Proposition 8. He believes it was a mistake to go strictly for gay marriage, suggesting that maybe they should have asked for civil unions instead – a move that would have been easier for the mainstream to swallow. I do understand where he’s coming from, considering England approved civil partnerships four years ago and gays have the same rights and benefits as married couples. Maybe it would have been easier for straights to accept us having civil unions, but who says they should be the only one to have the privilege of marriage. They aren’t respecting the institution of marriage any better, so why can’t I have the right to marry my lover?

Actually, California surprised me by opposing gay marriage. Considering how metropolitan the urban areas are, like Los Angeles and San Francisco are, I didn’t see that one coming. Florida, yeah. We’re so conservative as a whole that it was just expected to say Yes to Amendment 2. Considering the protest I saw in front of the Capitol building, and how muddled the language was on the issue, I didn’t have much hope for it to pass. The protests this weekend should show the public just how disappointed we are, and we’re not going away.

Also on my Borders reading pile is Hiding in Hip-Hop by Terrance Dean. It’s an interesting look at the gay world of entertainment from the eyes of an insider. He gives you the skinny on how gay men deal with being on the down-low to achieve further success in Hollywood. There isn’t much name dropping, unless you count pseudonyms he gives actors, singers and rappers to shield their identities. Some of them I’ve been able to figure out, like Ne-Yo (surprise, surprise), but others are like a riddle. I’m excited trying to figure it out. Terrance portrays his life in an honest fashion, from growing feeling abandoned to trying to make heads or tails of his sexuality. You should check it out.

Well, back to my reading. Essence awaits…

A Meme About Books

Ok, I found swiped this from someone’s site and decided I’d do it for myself, especially since I’m an avid book reader. Books have sustained me and educated me when the real world wasn’t enough. For that I’m grateful. Read on about my reading.

1. ONE BOOK THAT CHANGED YOUR LIFE?

It has to be Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred Taylor. It was the first book I read as a child that talked explicitly about racism. As a 10 year old reading it really opened my eyes to how black people were treated. The story of the Logan family in the Depression Era totally exposed me to how Blacks are treated as second-class citizens in this country.

2. ONE BOOK YOU HAVE READ MORE THAN ONCE?


I read this Toni Morrison book when I was about 13. Although I understood it well, it took on a whole new meaning when I read it at 20. The symbolism and pain resonated more with me. I love it.

3. ONE BOOK YOU WOULD WANT ON A DESERT ISLAND?

If I’m alone, probably Mama Day. If I’m with someone, probably any Zane book.

4. ONE BOOK THAT MADE YOU LAUGH?

Scenes from a Sistah is hilarious. Best friends Misty and Reesy are two crazy sistahs getting into even crazier messes. Chile, I laughed till I wet my pants. (Okay, not literally.) From men issues to friendship woes, it rings true. Lolita Files puts her foot in it. Her other two books following the women, Getting to the Good Part and Tastes Like Chicken, are just as great.

Honorable Mention: Anything Carl Weber

5. ONE BOOK THAT MADE YOU CRY?

My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult was one of the few books I bawled at the end of. It was so sad, but I won’t give away anything. The story is simply about Anna, a healthy girl conceived to be a genetic match for her older sister Kate who has leukemia. So Anna has to endure all these tests and medical procedures just to keep Kate alive, and she’s sick of it (pardon the pun). It’s such a beautifully written, complex story with no right answers.

6. ONE BOOK YOU WISH YOU HAD WRITTEN?

Alice Walker’s The Color Purple. Never has a book been more compelling. I wish I had just an ounce of this woman’s talent.

7. ONE BOOK YOU WISH HAD NEVER BEEN WRITTEN?

Don’t really know because I try to find the good in all books. But I guess Caught Up by Nevada York, one the worst edited books I’ve ever read–and the plot wasn’t all that either.

8. ONE BOOK YOU ARE CURRENTLY READING

I Say a Little Prayer by E. Lynn Harris. I’m a big E. Lynn fan so I had to get this one. I’m right in the middle…and it’s getting good. I’m waiting for the climax cause E. Lynn always delivers.

9. ONE BOOK YOU HAVE BEEN MEANING TO READ?


Alex Haley’s Roots. Never seen the movie (okay, bad I know) because I’ve wanted to read the book first. It’s one of those Black classics that you have always wanted to get into but just haven’t. Like Native Son or The Mis-Education of the Negro. Which are both on my TBR (To Be Read) Pile.

Crazy Chick Lit With a Capital “C”

What is up with this new form of dramatic literature, what I dub Crazy Chick Lit?

You know the type, where some (usu.) woman goes insane if she can’t have someone’s man (or woman for that matter), and is hellbent on getting their object of their desire even if they have to boil pet rabbits to get him (or her)? The kind where’s he or she about to kill the wife or off the huband just to get next to their crush, and we find out later that this psycho has deep psychological isssues that stem from their childhood. (Boo hoo hoo!)

What got me musing on this was that I just finished Anna J’s My Woman His Wife, a novel about a woman who would stop at nothing to get this man’s wife. She involved the husband, the wife, and even the wife’s secretary. And she has her cake and eats it, too (pardon the pun). Since she couldn’t get the wife away from her husband, then she decides to take more drastic measures. Psychotic stuff. Oh, and did I mention the crazy ho has killed before?

Is this life imitating art, or art imitating life?

Cause if you check the news, this kind of madness is all around us. People hacking people, husbands killing pregnant wives. Uhh, it’s too much for me, and I truly don’t know what the world is coming to. As my mama would say, “We’re at end of our days.” Or was that a cheesy ’80s song?

Back to crazy chick lit. Excuse me, but when did this become an acceptable form of fiction? Ever since the popularity of Fatal Attraction, being nuts has never been more attractive. The nuttier they are the better fiction, Lifetime movie, tv movie of the week, hour-long drama, soap opera it is.

To me , the bitch is crazy and we should lock her up and throw away the key.