Thou shalt not be fresher than . . .

It is amazing that I balk at spending $1500 on a novel, but don’t bat at eye at $3000 textbooks.

Last week, I went to Bookophilia’s Open Mic Night with my best friend D and had a great time. There was poetry and music, and musical poetry and pretty boys who could rap and play the guitar. As in pretty boys who could rap and pretty boys who could play the guitar. No multi-talented pretty boys, I’m afraid. But the guitar-playing pretty boy looked like jailbait and anyway I’ve already got one handsome, charming guitarist in my life, and let me tell you: they are a handful.

Anyway, I came away from that night with a few conclusions:

1. Spoken word is meant to be spoken, not read out of a book. Note to self for future (performing?) purposes.

2. Aeropostale-wearing, Standard English-speaking boys singing about hustling is kind of hilarious. I mean, really, hustling? In Barbican?

3. Someone needs to give a headband to the boy who kept flipping his dreads back the entire time he was on stage.

4. If a boy starts a love song with a certain girl’s name then spends the entire song looking soulfully at every girl in the audience except her, it is safe to say he is not a Good Fellow.

5. Unrequited love looks both tragic and poetic from the outside. Perhaps moreso when the guy comes off as a total player (tragedy) while the girl looks sweet and completely besotted (poetry).

6. And finally, the best bookstores serve coffee. On couches. With ambient lighting.

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Check out Bookophilia’s Open Mic Night every first Friday of the month. And their Facebook page here.

A brief history of book stores in Montego Bay

It started with Sangster’s Stationary and Henderson’s Book Store for textbooks in primary school and high school. They sold Literature books and novels, too. Sangster’s has two branches in town. Henderson’s is attached to a pharmacy.

There was Books and Things across the street from my high school; it’s been there since before I can remember. Changed hands once or twice, I’m not sure, but Mobay High girls could always be found there after school spending their lunch money on paperback romances (that I’d borrow rather than buy). They’re still there, peddling used books to all and sundry. And making tidy profits as well, I’d wager.

Down the road from school was the epitome of book stores, the great Novelty Trading Company. Despite claims otherwise from the parent store in Kingston, the Montego Bay branch would sell books retail to walk-in customers. Which was probably part of the reason they shut down. Pity. The memory of walking into that place and seeing bookshelves stacked floor to ceiling in a warehouse-sized enclosure will stay with me forever. It smelled like heaven, too.

Recently, Bookland has moved in near to where Novelty used to be and so far they seem to be doing well. The ambience is without par, really. I don’t think even Bookophilia (Kingston) can compare to their flowing layout and at home decor.

Even more recently at Whitter Village in Ironshore, Island Bookstore has sprung into existence. Being so far out of town, it’s ideal for the readers who don’t live in/around Montego Bay but who still want a quick reading fix. They’ve added a used books section since the last time I visited.

The most recent addition is a little indie book store hidden away in downtown Montego Bay selling used books of all varieties and genres for fairly inexpensive prices. Deus Books and Auxillaries is less than a year old, but shows a lot of promise. It’s just that the book market in Mobay isn’t exactly conducive to the forward-thinking seller. “Readers” know what they want and they’re not really willing to give anything new a try. I only hope this place survives; I’ve gotten quite attached to it.

Disclaimer: I didn’t include pharmacies on purpose because they all sell the same novels anyway.

Do you have a favourite book store?

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ETA: Since writing this post, Deus Books and Auxillaries has closed its operations on Barnett Street. If I find out that they’ve moved, I’ll update this post letting you know.