by C.L. Phillips
We're back from our annual pilgrimage to higher elevation and cool air. People do that when they live in Texas. Native Texans will do anything to get out of the heat, including drive seventeen hours to their favorite book store.
Like the Marfa Book Company in Marfa, Texas. Marfa lies in the Davis Mountain region of West Texas at 4685 feet of elevation. That elevation doesn't sound like much until you've experienced ten weeks of hundred degree plus heat in sunny Austin. In August, you'll climb on your mother's back if you think it will give you cooler air. Doesn't matter how old your mother is.
But back to the Marfa Book Company. Imagine a dust blown little town with less than 2,000 people. Now, put a minimalistic uber-quality bookstore with the style, content, and coffee bar to rival the best shops in Manhattan, San Francisco or London. Give it a wonderful set of owners, and you have the oasis that is the Marfa Book Company.
And only two blocks from the Dairy Queen. If you're from Texas, you'll know why that little detail is so important. A book store doesn't make a town. The Dairy Queen does. But when you have the Marfa Book Company within walking distance of the Dairy Queen, now you're talking.
But to put it another way, it's worth the drive.
Another favorite bookstore escape lies in downtown Denver, conveniently located between hotter-than-hell-Texas and the cool elevations of the Rocky Mountains. The Tattered Cover located in LoDo is another of my favorite retreats. I confess I go to Denver for two things, the Tattered Cover and the chicken enchiladas at the Cherry Creek Grill. I'll even give up two or three hours on the way to the mountains for this escape. Of course, several years ago, I could go to the Tattered Cover and walk to the Cherry Creek Grill, but that was before a store consolidation plan transformed my favorite book store in the world into an urban chic furniture store. At the old Tattered Cover, I heard Doris Kerns Goodwin speak of Abraham Lincoln and his cabinet of rivals. Her talk started my journey into all things historical, and for that I remain ever faithful and grateful to both she and the Tattered Cover.
Where is your favorite book store? What makes it special to you? Where is your reading oasis?