Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Wijvenweek/Shopping: How to be a Lady at a Bookstore



To see other wijvenweek blogs on shopping, (especially if you speak Flemish), please visit the Wijvenblogs page.

Today's topic is shopping.

I am one of those strange female creatures who hates to shop. I get no pleasure out of shoes, make-up, bargains, or the latest seasonal fashion.

I can be convinced to drum up a little enthusiasm for: Ikea, other quirky household type stores (but I rarely buy in either), and specialty food shops.

There is, however, a shopping experience I love: going to the bookstore.

So here is a primer on going to the bookstore in a ladylike fashion, since that's what we're all about this week:

1. Choose your outfit carefully. Make sure you are correct for the season. No white before Memorial Day, no capris in January, no Doc Martins in July.

In fact, leave the Doc Martins at home.

Just this once.

Please.

Hats, gloves and just the right touch of lipstick, powder and rouge can make or break the look. This should be about right:



Too formal, you say? Mais non! It is our job as women to look our best at all times. Anyone who knows me truly, knows I always follow this dictum. (Anno... shhhhhhhhh).

You might want to ditch the cigarette, however, as books and fire generally don't mix, and the length of the holder would be unwieldly and ash might fall on a book or three. And you still need a hat.

If you don't look like Audrey Hepburn, perhaps you should rethink your trip to the bookstore.

Well, at least you tried.

Now assuming you have the right look down, the next job is to select the proper venue for your outing.

I favor independent bookstores. Independent bookstores are unique and individual and aren't slaves to corporate favor. Some of the wonderful independent bookstores in Ann Arbor include Nicola's Books, Aunt Agatha's Mystery Bookstore, Crazy Wisdom, Shaman Drum, and Common Language Bookstore, among others.

The only trouble with independent bookstores is that they rarely have a tea room, and to have the proper outing, a tea room is de rigeur, because you might want to luncheon.

Ladies don't have lunch, they have luncheon.

Just ask Nancy Drew.

So once you have selected the proper outfit and the proper location, what should you do upon entering the bookstore?

Start by exploring all the aisles, pausing briefly in the finance and history sections to show that yes, women can be interested in such topics, too, but find your final destination in either cooking or fiction, preferably the romance section. Because, as we all know, those sections contain our true passions. If you're not actually a reader, and you decide to go on this outing as an experiment, you can certainly pick up a fashion magazine instead. All the best stores have media sections these days.

Choose a book or three (more would be awkward) and make your way to the tea room or cafe. Order some tea and crumpets. This order will mark you as a true lady. It's not quite enough for a luncheon, but it will allow you to have sustenance while not applying grease marks to your unpurchased books. For tea, the most ladylike choice would be a chamomile/lavendar blend. It's calming and good for the complexion.

If you insist on keeping the cigarette holder, and you still haven't been removed from the store, then order a single espresso - no crumpets. Remember, your sustenance is also an accessory.

Sip your tea, nibble on a crumpet, and allow your mind to embrace the writing within your chosen selections.

When you are done, spring to your feet and dash away from the table, leaving the books there in seeming forgetfulness. This allows you to have read the books without actually paying the authors, editors, publishers and agents (well maybe not publishers) who slaved and gave at least six months of their lives (and maybe years, in the case of the authors), to make sure that you can have this precious experience.

Walk gracefully through the double doors leading to the street (because all the really best bookstores have double doors) and take in a breath of fresh, springtime air.

In the words of our President: Mission Accomplished.

See you tomorrow for What's Cooking Wednesday and "Meals that Men Like".

32 comments:

anno said...

Darling, you've caught us to a T! A perfect portrait!

cablegirl said...

*snicker* Could you be any more tongue in cheek?


And I don't think it's possible to go out of the house without Docs. :D


and on another note, I got my Michigan package yesterday. Now I've been contemplating what an appropriate Miami package would be. :)

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

Yes, Anno, there we are, gloves on, and every hair in place. I thought we could share those secrets with the masses.

CG - actually the Doc Martins line was an attempt to crack you up - specifically. But I also loved the image of Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast At Tiffany's mode AND Doc Martins. And no Miami package necessary - that was for help rendered. ;-) Glad you got it!

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

This post was very funny. Ha.

Are people still wearing Docs?

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

NYC - Yup, they still do. Especially in Florida, apparently. ;-) Sorry... I'm ribbing Cablegirl.

Sandy C. said...

LOL! You're killing me with the Luncheon :)

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

Hey Sandy! Well, that always cracked me up reading Nancy when I was a child - they were always off for luncheon...

Sister Sassy said...

I know Shaman Drum and Common Language. Did you hear about Borders financial issues??

You forgot to caution people about taking the books into the rest room ;)

lol

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

Oh, darn, Sassy - you're SO right! Well, needless to say, that wouldn't be very ladylike...

Aunt Agatha's is completely fabulous if you like mysteries. It's a true gem. And Nicola's is wonderful for general selection, great service and lots of Michigan knicknacks, etc.

April said...

Love it! Although I think nowadays, the modern image of this is an appropriately frothy, but fat-free, iced grande concoction at Starbucks with the fat free banana nut loaf and a NY Times (and the laptop, of course).

Ben said...

There is no greater pleasure in life than shopping for books, at least for me. But, does anyone still wear a hat? Like Elaine would say :-p

Great post!

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

I think you're right, April, but I was too far gone into my retro zone. ;-)

And no, Ben, I'm sure no one does, but I don't see too many of the cigarette holders, either. ;-)

Jami said...

We have a saying at our house: "Some people do drugs; we do books." I LOVE the smell of books in the morning!

And the black dress is not the way to go - unless worn over black slacks. Otherwise, there's no ladylike way to keep squatting down to see what's on the bottom shelves.

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

Oh, Jami, you're so right... I hadn't thought of that! I'm certainly gaining some good etiquette tips today.

citizen jane said...

What the Docs apparently are to cablegirl, black Chucks are to me. They go with practically everything.

As much as I love Amazon, just for sheer inventory vastness, nothing beats an hour or three being lost in the shelves of an independent bookstore. That's heaven.

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

You know, Jane, I can agree on the black Chucks, thing. But maybe not with the Audrey Hepburn ensemble. ;-)

Greg said...

Jen, I think you should get the "Holly Golightly" award for this. Now, I don't think such an award exists, but if it did you should be awarded it!

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

Thanks, Greg. I must say, I had fun with this one!

bleeding espresso said...

Oh I just love this. I'm definitely coming on the next bookstore excursion ;)

Goofball said...

wow, I am so drawn into the mental picture!

I so want to go on such a bookstore trip with you...oh excuse me, I so want to go on a luncheon with you!

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

Well, Espresso and Goofball, perhaps we could find a suitable venue some place between Calabria and Leuven?

Dru said...

LOL!!

The two things that I like shopping for: books and computers.

I love going into the local B&N because they have those big comfy chairs which you can snuggle in with a book and before you know it, you've fallen asleep.

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

That's a good point about those great snuggly chairs, Dru!

Jane the Sane said...

I want to go to Aunt Agatha's. That sounds fabulous. Sadly I lack the appropriate attire. My jeans and t-shirt and CLOGS will have to stay home.

Luisa Perkins said...

I hate shopping, too! More evidence that we were separated at birth.

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

Jane - oh, yes, I'm afraid that clogs are in the same category as Docs... sigh...

Well, Luisa, there you go! It's a shame they had to raise us on opposite coasts.

Gunfighter said...

"...and I said what about Breakfast At Tiffany's?"

Hat tip to Holly Golightly.

Flower Child said...

You have to go to The Tattered Cover bookstore in Denver - you can read your books in a comfy chair and sip tea! Absolutely worth the road trip. Doc Martens optional. Clogs recommended.

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

I love that song, Gunfighter! And yes, hat tip indeed to Miss Holly.

I will definitely have to check that out, Flower Child. Crazy Wisdom has that here, in Ann Arbor, and of course, the big box stores - B&N and Borders do, and we have a used bookstore that has the People's Food Coop next door, and you can get coffee from there and bring it into the bookstore. And yes, it is a nice thing to do, definitely!

cablegirl said...

Jen - well, no Miami package may be necessary, but the planning is already in progress. You willbe getting something in the mail, whether you want it or not. lol


that is, provided I can find your return address. lol

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

Okay, CG... I'll e-mail you! I still think we should just take a Toronto road trip, instead! ;-)

StickyGooeyCreamyChewy said...

Great post! I am laughing because I spend half my life in bookstores, and I always make sure I am appropriately dressed! ;)

You are lucky to have so many independents in your area. We used to have a few, but they couldn't survive when the big guys came to town. Someday, I'd love to open a mystery bookstore.