Lexi Goldstein.jpg

Books are undoubtedly my preferred source of intellectual stimulation, and their role in my completion of the 50-hour driving practice requirement was surprising but welcome.

During quarantine, I explored nearly all the used bookstores in a 10-mile radius with my mom as a way to make the hours go by faster. Our monthly trips brought me to the shelves at Feldman’s Books in Menlo Park, Florey’s Book Co. in Pacifica and B Street Books in San Mateo. These mother-daughter excursions reignited something in me — my love of reading.

As a child, I looked forward to visiting the Easton Branch library in Burlingame. There, I would pluck a stack of five or so books off the shelf and read for hours on end in the wonderfully worn couches. Maturing into a teen reader, I worked my way through the public library’s Young Adult offerings. Though my teenage bookshelf was plentiful, it was notably smaller than my childhood one. As the responsibilities of school and extracurriculars piled up, I chose to focus more on quality over quantity. Despite my limited availability, my desire for new reads was still strong.

Spending so much time at my local library, it seemed like a perfect fit to volunteer there. As a freshman in high school, I started managing and contributing to the teen blog with posts of book, movie and music reviews. Now, as a senior, I have given commentary on countless novels in the YA fiction genre. Although I still write for the blog, the books I read in my free time venture into the adult category.

Whether it’s a library book or a secondhand copy, I have thoroughly enjoyed revamping my bookshelf to better reflect my current reading abilities and interests. Now, I make weekly trips to B Street Books. There, I bought a third-edition copy of William S. Burroughs’ “Naked Lunch” and James Baldwin’s “If Beale Street Could Talk” among numerous other titles. While I have always loved visiting the library, curating my own literary assortment has been the highlight of my post-quarantine routine since graduating from a permit to a license.

Choosing to purchase used books as opposed to opting for a Barnes & Noble collection was purposeful. Looking through an environmental lens, it doesn’t get much better than secondhand bookstores. According to the Association of American Publishers, 1.8 billion print books were sold by U.S. publishers in 2018. It’s no wonder we are seeing such rampant deforestation; David Sedaris has yet another novel ready for publishing, and the demand for a copy of “The Color Purple” is simply unceasing — understandably so. Arguably, the most eco-friendly option is an e-book, but the sensation of flipping textured pages is superior to the near-blinding experience of reading off a computer. So, I look at it as a compromise: I buy paper copies, but it’s paper that someone else has enjoyed before me and someone will hopefully cherish after me in a beautiful cycle of literary appreciation. While exercising my environmental consciousness, I also want to support local businesses. There is no time like the present to ditch an Amazon cart and take a stroll into a mom-and-pop shop.

On the road, I kept an eye out for bookstores, but I was really searching for a way to revisit my youthful admiration for literature. With my discovery of local, secondhand bookstores, I believe I have finally reached my destination.

Lexi Goldstein is a senior at Burlingame High School. Student News appears in the weekend edition. You can email Student News at news@smdailyjournal.com.

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(3) comments

Terence Y

Nice essay today, Ms. Goldstein. I also prefer hardcopy books, but prefer paperbacks at night. If you’ve ever started nodding off while lying in bed and holding a book above you, you’ll probably have experienced a hardcover book falling and almost putting out an eye or rearranging your nose. Not much sleep after that. Lesson learned and only paperbacks or an e-book reader at bedtime. BTW, 50-hour driving practice requirement these days? Really? And is there “official” paperwork associated with this? Yikes!

Tafhdyd

Terence,

Do you read a book laying flat on your back and hold over your head? When I fall asleep reading a book it lands on my lap or falls off the bed and on the floor and wakes me up.

Terence Y

Unfortunately, Taffy, if I sit up and read, I just end up continuing to sit up and read. Mr. Sandman doesn’t beckon.

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