On a short trip to the West Coast, I had the good fortune to spend a little time on the University of Southern California campus, and about an hour in its official bookstore. I was very disappointed last fall to find that my alma mater, the University of Pennsylvania, has turned its campus bookstore over to Barnes and Noble; Harvard University has done the same. Thus, I can find the same books, arranged the same way, that I can find in any of the half dozen or so Barnes and Nobles in D.C. and Northern Virginia. Fortunately, USC's bookstore remains independent, and the difference shows. Had I had more available space in my luggage, I could easily have spent a few hundred bucks on works of anthropology, archaeology, history, religion and fiction that neither Borders nor Barnes and Noble carries. (Amazon.com, of course, does--but one has to know a book is out there, and I believe that the best--or at least the most pleasant--way to find them is browsing in a well stocked store...)
Picking up a "new" book by the late poet Czeslaw Milosz (how did I miss the publication of Legends of Modernity in October 2006?) is a particularly joyous experience--especially as these essays were written during the Nazi occupation of Poland.
Among the books I didn't buy (but will sooner or later) were Karl Heider's Ethnographic Film (revised edition and The Golem and the Wondrous Deeds of the Maharal of Prague by Yudl Rosenberg. I didn't know I wanted either book until I saw them on the shelves...
I did make room in my luggage for a USC T-shirt for the 8-year-old; he quite likes the heroic Trojan. And the book I chose for him was Wars of Empire.Posted by Ideofact at April 21, 2007 08:30 PM