Rainy afternoons during my early twenties often called for a stroll to Moe’s books on Telegraph Ave. Perennially busy; the windows steamed before I even opened the doors. An aroma of sweat, patchouli, decaying paper, must, and mildew greeted me.
If enticed by a window display with a new cover, I’d journey down the cement lattice stairs to the sub-level for a peek at what currently charmed the bourgeoisie and intelligencia. More often than not I would make a beeline towards the elevator on the left.
Rarely did I find a need to journey to the fourth floor for a glimpse at a rare book. There were too many used books to keep me busy on the second and third floors.
My literary tastes wandered the world and the times. Sober but caffeinated, my mind would expand among tomes of history, sociology, and theology. I often hovered between social commentary and classical Greek.
My budget lacking, I read as much as possible without buying. I might have spent six bucks on an anthology of modern American essays—as long as it included some Studs Terkel. Yet I would I balk at peeling back a few more dollars for an illustrated version of the Bhagavad-Gita. To this day, I covet a particular translation of Euripides’ Bacchae.
Most of the time I considered the feel of uneven bindings, frayed edges, dog-eared passages, and gold-foil embossed titles. Often I daydreamed about the possible motivations and inspirations of play writes, beats, theologians and their editors. Not a scholar myself and working two jobs just to pay rent, I considered their motive mostly monetary in nature.
Once in a while I would catch glimpse of a cat slumbering upon the stacks or in the window. I bet it was comfortable up there.
It’s been over 15 years since I have visited that store in Berkeley. My memory may even be off a floor or two. I know the proprietor passed on shortly after I moved away. Heck, I don’t even know if the physical shop is even still there. However, my heart knows that my favorite bookshop is still Moe’s. Brick and mortar or rainy day or not.
Today’s post was inspired by NaBloPoMo‘s prompt, “Talk about your favourite bookstore.” I created the image on my iPad using ArtRage. ©2011. Steph Abbott. All rights reserved.