A lucky find at The Book Lady Bookstore

Inspiration, Reading / Wednesday, November 16th, 2016

Over the weekend, I went to the latest Seersucker Live reading in Savannah. It was my first in a while, which I was shamed for, and I brought my brother along, too. We arrived early and poked around the back shelves of The Book Lady. I ended up in the cooking section, trying to diffuse my irrational panic over my own fledgling collection of cookbooks. On the top shelf, a dark green spine with shiny copper letters made me laugh quietly.

Julie and Julia, first edition

Julie and Julia. I’ve never read Julie Powell’s book, or the original blog. But the movie has a special place in my heart. I remember seeing it with my mom when I was 16, just before my senior year in high school. So many quotes have become inside jokes with my family — reverently whispering “butter” whenever we use it; almost always pronouncing “surprise” as “supreese”; and chanting “lobster killer, lobster killer, lobster killer,” whether or not it makes sense in the moment.

It’s also one of the main reasons I have a blog. From the moment I watched Amy Adams punctuate the air with her knife as she declared, “I could write a blog — I have thoughts,” I figured I could, too.

Flipping through the book, I fell in love with the chapter titles. They are as charming and hilariously honest as the rest of the parts I skimmed. While the voice in the back of my head told me I don’t need to buy more books right now (probably the voice of the stack of yet-to-be-read new purchases), I was reluctant to put it back. I remembered looking for this book after I saw the movie, but I either couldn’t find it or, since I was unemployed that summer, couldn’t afford it. And here it was. Just to entertain the thought and try to rationalize with that voice in my head, I checked the price in the front.

The Book Lady, Seersucker Tots, Lucy Artigas
By sheer luck, a photographer for District captured me trying to make up my mind in the background of her photo for an article on the reading. What you can’t see is my brother behind the shelves, trying to talk me into buying it. Photo by Lucy Artigas, used with the photographer’s permission.

Not only did the price surprise me — $6.50 for this hardback beauty?! — but so did the words “First ed.” written underneath it. Normally, I’m not one to get giddy over touching a first edition. I just get giddy over books. New, used, hardback, paperback, like new, or dog-eared and annotated, I love books. And this first edition copy of a 2002 book I’d never read felt special.

Next to its empty spot on the shelf, a later edition of the same book sat. Bright yellow paperback spine, title in red script — it might’ve even had the text “NOW A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE.” I didn’t touch it.

What little edits and addendums might be in that later edition, besides a flashier cover? It wouldn’t have made the story any less real, or the book any less valuable. But my crazy brain decided that the book in my hands was The Original, and therefore held some elevated status.

If not for my brother, the voice of my other unread books might have won out. I might have returned at some later date, hoping to find it again. Or life could have swept me away, as it tends to do, until I forgot what I found. But now Julie and Julia has a place on my shelf.

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