Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Destination Buy-a-Good-Book

I normally don't read USA Today unless I'm on the road and hotel managment drops a copy at my door. Nothing against USA Today. It's short, bullet-laden news stories get right to the point and out again, perfect reads for the weary traveler. One of my favorite sections is the one that lists a short news item for each state. I always read the snippets for my state of Wyoming, plus those for other states I've lived in, such as Kansas and Maryland. I also like the colorful weather maps.

The paper also likes lists, especially when it comes to travel. Top 10 sushi restaurants in the USA. Best sandy beaches! Top 10 things airline travelers need to know.

A recent list featured the top nine "bookstore destinations" in the USA. Here's the list:

BOOKS & BOOKS: 265 Aragon Ave., Coral Gables, Fla.,

CITY LIGHTS BOOKS: 261 Columbus Ave., San Francisco;

ELLIOTT BAY BOOK CO.: 101 S. Main St., Seattle;

POLITICS AND PROSE: 5015 Connecticut Ave. NW, Washington;

POWELL'S CITY OF BOOKS: 1005 W. Burnside, Portland, Ore.;

PRAIRIE LIGHTS: 15 S. Dubuque St., Iowa City.

TATTERED COVER BOOK STORE: 1628 16th St., Denver;

THAT BOOKSTORE IN BLYTHEVILLE: 316 W. Main, Blytheville, Ark.;

THE STRAND: Corner of 12th Street and Broadway, near Union Square, Manhattan;

I'm pleased to say I've been in four of the nine. I spent the majority of my time during two business trips to Portland at Powell's. But the store that's claimed most of my book-browsing-and-buying time has been Tattered Cover in Denver. When I lived in Denver, a week didn't go by that I didn't drop into the store. I once even lived in the Cherry Creek neighborhood, five blocks from the store. Then the area became chic, rents went up, and many of the old brick bungalows were scraped from the property to make way for townhouse duplexes. Another great thing about the neighborhood: the Cherry Cricket, one of the best sports-watching bars in the city.

Other destination bookstores of note? Sam Weller's in Salt Lake City, Changing Hands Books in Tempe, Ariz., Chapters A Literary Bookstore in D.C., and the modest but fantastic The Book Shop in funky downtown Sheridan, Wyo.

What are your favorites?

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