From My Bookshelf: North to the Orient

A year or so ago, while in Baltimore for a medical appointment, we found ourselves with an afternoon to spare. The front desk lady suggested a charming little bookstore a half hour drive away.

 

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The “bookstore” was, in fact, a set of warehouse like rooms, on a curious corner lot tucked between row housing and dry cleaners.

The place had obviously been decorated by that peculiar breed of people who understand that a shelf of books is all that is necessary for a well appointed, welcoming room. The yellow linoleum–when the floor had any covering at all–  sprinkled with dust bunnies and dirt; the coordinating yellow florescent lights; the blaring radio;  the artlessly grungy wiring and exposed plywood; the whole set of rooms delicately scented with a blend of dust, cigarette smoke, and mildew.  And books–shelves and aisles and stacks and bins of books, magazines, periodicals, instruction manuals, and outdated Readers Digests.

But despite everything, the shop was charming. Very charming. We stayed there for hours. Because it wasn’t a shop. No reading materials were sold. It was all free.

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I chose “North to the Orient” because it had a beautiful red and gold spine in a sea of dingy green; because it had an arrow and an airplane on it; because it was written by Anne Lindburgh; and because it was well written and interesting.

I am only to chapter five, and it has some interesting looks into early 20th century life–such as this bit, right before takeoff, when Anne is asked by a reporter where she will keep her lunch boxes in the plane:

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What could I say that would have any significance? All the important questions about the trip will be answered by my husband.

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Or Anne’s thoughts about handkerchief’s the second day of her trip, having just spent the night with her family in Maine:

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I have what I think is a first edition; but North to the Orient has been reprinted. If you can lay your hands on a copy, say from your local library, I’d recommend you do so post haste.

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