Swede and I have a tradition.
Actually, we have many traditions, but stop me if you’ve heard this one already. Wait, no, don’t stop me, because I’m going to tell you anyway.
Every New Year’s Day, we stumble out of bed, some years with more of a headache than others, and head down to Hyde Park to have breakfast at Salonica. After sufficiently stuffing ourselves on eggs and bacon and hashbrowns and English muffins (which, between you, me, and your bus driver, may be because we need to soak up the remnants of alcohols from the previous year, or may be because eggs and bacon and hashbrowns and English muffins are delectable treats that I wouldn’t mind rolling around in body, heart, and soul), we head across the street to Powell’s, which may or may not be the world’s greatest used book store. At the least, it is Chicago’s greatest used book store.
This year marked the fourth year in a row we took our New Year’s sojourn to Salonica and Powell’s, though because we woke up on New Year’s Day to a blanket of white snow falling up, we postponed our trip until the next weekend when the snow had taken a rest (albeit briefly, as it started up with gusto again the following day). The first year we went, it was with a cheery naiveté that we would each pick out one new book for the new year. Just the one to kick start a new reading year.
That first year I left with two.
Subsequent years we’d be a little more lenient on ourselves and say, “Oh, okay, one or two.”
And subsequent years I left with three or four.
This year, I don’t know if we were drunk on hashbrowns or simply decided to flagrantly disregard whatever stupid notion we’d put in place that first year that we should only get one book.
Fuck that noise.
It was as if all of hell had broken loose as we stalked the aisles of Powell’s, reading the book jacket of seemingly every book to grace its shelves, precariously piling books in our arms. We each took our stack to the front and went through it at the counter. A couple of books did get put back—we didn’t want to get out of control—but the majority of these new friends now reside in our overstuffed condo, on our already overstuffed bookshelf.
This year I walked out of there with seven new books. (Swede walked out with four.)
What? It’s a lucky number.