Always trying to get as many errands done during the week as possible, as to ensure a more enjoyable and often carefree weekend, I recently found myself leaving the apartment to run errands on a Saturday. This perhaps had a lot to do with taking a vacation day the previous Wednesday, which threw an already busy week into a much more tightly scheduled timeline, leaving me little time and energy to get anything done after work. Anyway, this particular Saturday was cloudy, although warm, and after running said errands I couldn’t bring myself to spend the rest of the day cleaning or picking up the slack dropped during the week back at the apartment. So with a quick GPS reprogramming, I headed east on Route 1 towards a little town called Bath.
In the small, historic downtown I easily found on-street parking (score) and was delighted to see quite a few people walking up and down the sidewalk and into the handful of shops. Pausing at one or two display tables outside the storefronts, I made my way towards The Mustard Seed Bookstore, its yellow doors a cheerful, welcoming sight in the gloomy haze of the gray clouds above.
Inside, there was a group of people sitting at a table at the front talking and enjoying a pot of tea; two individuals were sitting at a table in the back of the store, pouring over notebooks and texts; a friendly employee asked if she could help me find anything, but I was just browsing so she told me to have fun and left me to peruse the shelves. You know you’re in the right place when the staff wishes you to have fun while book shopping.
The selection of classic literature is astounding at The Mustard Seed Bookstore. They are all newly published editions, but seeing them together on the shelves will charm you to the point of blacking out, gathering all of the books in your arms and taking them to counter to complete the purchase. Luckily for my wallet, the quiet chatter of the people at the table in the front prevented this process from going too far.
Many of the other titles include those from Maine authors, those about Maine, cook books, historical fiction and non-fiction, biography, mystery, as well as popular and prize-winning fiction. The title I selected is a 50th Anniversary Edition (originally published in 1958) of Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe. I believe I discovered this story through a New Yorker review or mention, and after reading the summary and some reviews on Goodreads I decided to make it part of my ever-growing To Be Read list. The back of the book describes it as: “encompassing at once the life of nature, human history, and the mysterious compulsions of the soul.” This is exactly what my ideal book encompasses.
After a cheerful chat with the woman behind the check-out counter (which sits below a large, lovely chalkboard with a list of teas you can order while you stay and read your book), I exited through the yellow doors and walked back out onto the sidewalk.
Not yet ready to go back to my apartment, I walked across the street to Café Crème, and after a little deliberation I ordered an “Almond Joyous” latte. The couches and chairs and cozy atmosphere were appealing, but I chose to stroll down the street outside and back to my car for the drive back home (the latte was delectable, by the way). I could only hope for every Saturday to be as sweet.