It's been sunny and cool lately, that time in fall when you just have to go outside and explore. The light is flat, the leaves are changing, and you have to take advantage of what precious sun is left to you. Today I got on the Metro and found my way to Arbatskaya. My purpose was already decided. I was going to track down the Moscow House of Books.
Bookstores are something of a dying tradition, as they have committed two sins - carrying a product which is rapidly dying out and occupying physical space when Internet shopping has almost taken over. (As a ten-year-old informed me last week, "Only old people buy books.") However, I do think they will continue, if only as a niche market. There's something so wonderful about being in the midst of a million bookshelves, wandering through all the great things literature has to offer. Can you guess what this book is?
They have a pretty good selection, and you can buy lots of different things there - stationery, postcards, things that can be difficult to find anywhere else. They are also pretty well-organized by genre. You have all kinds of arts books, classics, reference guides, you name it. I read a Russian-language guide to Canada and got nostalgic over all the pictures of my hometown. Miss you, Canada! The only disadvantage I could think of was that they were poorly organized within the sections. Nothing resembling alphabetical order (Latin or Cyrillic), so you just kind of had to wander and look. Took me forever to find anything.
The best part, however, is that they have a big section for foreign-language books, the vast majority of which are in English. Oh, I don't buy books anymore because I have a Kobo, but it was a treat to wander through shelves of Stephen King and Agatha Christie and feel totally at home. They even had Alice Munro books out, thanks to her Nobel win this week, I guess. In fact, I think for a second I even got warped back to Canada.
Russians are very literary people - even making sure their kids know the classics...
However, like any society, they have their morons. Yes, E.L. James' literary plague has reached Russia. Oh well, can't win 'em all.