Monday, September 3, 2012

For the bibliophiles

Because I know I'm one and this touches my soul like almost nothing else has. The things in Finland that come to mind that come even remotely close: the Hesburger Nacho Grande (still godly, in my opinion), the Academic Bookstore (has books in 5 different languages and where I bought the fifth Game of Thrones book after I had gone through the 3 books I had brought with me but before my shipping container of additional books had arrived), and probably Kuurna and Coma, where I had my birthday dinners with my family members.

That incredible to me.

After vaguely wondering if I would ever find a place to trade all of the books I have been reading (the pile has been getting quite high...since I moved here I've read 11's been less than 5 months and I took a month do the math), I have found it. I have found my new mecca.

It's called Arkadia Oy International Bookshop. (Which actually just means Arkadia Company International Bookshop, but you get the point).

And it's absolutely beautiful.

After some hearty searching on the interwebs and posting on the expat forums to see if other people knew where I could buy/sell/trade used paperbacks and hardbacks in English, I came up with very little. No one on the forums commented on my posts (only the admins did and all they said was that I could post listings for my books on the forum to see if anyone was interested) and my search at first didn't yield any good results - only for bookstores that sold new books.

And although I like new books as much as the next person, what I really crave is used books. Used books have a soul that I can only describe as...well, familiar. Books that have seen history, and experience. You can't take a new book with you and not worry about it (or at least I can't). You can't just throw it in a bag and treat it with the same adoration and belonging as with a book that has seen time and wear. Anyway, here in Finland, the price difference is also pretty huge. And I don't want to afford new books every time I want to read something new.

Plus I brought over a lot of books. We're talking somewhere in the 60-70 book range. All of which I haven't read. This is on purpose - I read (a lot), and I just don't have the space in my tiny (read: 30 square meter/300+ square foot) apartment to have books I've already read. Sure I'll keep the ones that make a permanent impression on me but generally speaking that's only 1-3 books a year (which is maybe 5-10% of the books I read). Bottomline: there's no room for books I've already read.

So, when I finally found the website for Arkadia, my hopes soared. Had I finally found my new Pennywise Books? (Background: Pennywise was my godsend in San Diego...I went every 6 months or so to trade my 15-20 books and refresh my supply...the owner was a grumpy old man who rarely said anything to me, but I loved his shop...I'd spend hours there).

Admittedly with the way life has been and my schedule, it took me awhile to get to the actual place, even after I found the website. The tab for the page stayed open in my browser for a solid week or two before I finally had enough time in my schedule to make it there and map it appropriately.

But map it I did, and one day, when taking a break from the LGN plan (I had run and gymmed three days in a row), I walked there after work.

As soon as I saw the sign (which was in English), I got excited. I had to stop myself from skipping/running across the street in a mad dash to get inside and see what I could have discovered.

But it would have made no difference. It was paradise.

Simple, covered ceiling to floor in books (glorious books), and furnished for reading, free tea and coffee...ah, I could stay here for hours.

And I did.

Actually as soon as I walked in the door I promptly met the owner (or one of the owners, it's a husband and wife pair, but only the wife was there that day, the husband being at their other location, which sells antique books). I asked her about buying and trading books and we got into a very long chat.

She was very amused by me (I mean how often does a Finnish person meet a Californian who is absolutely batshit insane about books?...and is willing to talk about them for minutes if not hours on end?...apparently not very often) and we quickly became acquainted.

In fact we became so acquainted that I've been offered the chance to speak at one of their events (they host a few events in their stores every month). I politely declined, saying that I had no interest in speaking to the public about anything (generally speaking this is true), but thought it was interesting nonetheless. I'll check out their events either way, and have happily added my email to their mailing list.

After we talked for what seemed like 20 minutes but what was likely more like an hour, she said I should take a look around the shop and set aside anything I liked. Since I didn't have any of my books to trade with me (since I wanted to find out first if they would trade in the first place), she said she would hold them for me until I could come back.

So browse I did...for several hours.

And got three books to set aside. I consciously stopped myself from browsing further because I know myself all too well and I could have gone on for much much longer.

They have books in other languages, other than English and Finnish - they also have German, French, and Spanish, as well as other languages I didn't look that closely at. They have books of all kinds - fiction, nonfiction, true crime, travel books, cook books, books on music, nature, food...any niche subject you might be interested. It was fascinating. Like being in an antique store and finding all the sparkling treasures of old...except nothing here was old (I also love antique stores...can you tell?).

I walked back to the front and handed the owner my three books and we set a date for Saturday (it being a Thursday) so I could come back and trade in my books (I have 8 sitting in my apartment, my parents having taken some back with them to the States, since I'd already read them).

I absolutely cannot wait to be back on Saturday. I've had to stop myself from gathering my books and putting them in my book bag simply because it's ridiculous. I should be able to control myself like an adult and pack my books at the appropriate time.

But it's true I can't keep myself from grinning. I am so absolutely thrilled to have found a place to bring my books to.

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