Bookstores

Folks in the Tokyo Linux Users Group are talking about where to find
English-version O’Reilly books. Seeing familiar names flash
by—Kinokuniya, Yurindo, even Book 1st—I suddenly miss Japan and that
fellowship between strangers browsing through the tiny English section
of bookstores… Now I know that I didn’t just pass through. I wasn’t
just a tourist. Even if it was just for six months, I really did live
there.

Canada still feels a little unreal to me. Sometimes I have a hard time
believing that I’m really halfway around the world. The chain
bookstores are comfortably familiar: books, a cafe, shelves of music
and video. When I step into Chapters, it’s like stepping into
Powerbooks or Fully Booked in Metro Manila—I’m home.

But when I step into one of those little bookstores, then I know I
really am a stranger in a strange land. They have specialized
bookstores here. Science fiction and fantasy. New age and
spiritualism. Used and rare books.

It’s hard to care about megabookstores; they’re the same the world
over. But someday I’ll grow to be as fond of these little bookstores
as I am of the bookstores in Japan, and then I’ll know I’m not just
passing through Canada; I live here, even just for a while.