A BOOK PER TRIP
On my first international trip in 2010, I decided to start the tradition of buying a book in each country/state I visit. I actually started doing it long before on my yearly trips to Disney World. I couldn’t justify buying another silly Disney themed item as an adult, plus I love books, and the tradition was born. Since I do not like to shop while I’m traveling, it makes sense to pick up something easy to pack (no coffee table books) and usually easy to find.
I would normally rather do other things then spend the day looking for the perfect souvenir on a trip. Unless I’m on the hunt for a specific item only made in that area, usually food or wine. I will also make the exception for pickles. I will absolutely go out of my way for a good homemade pickle. Generally, I try to avoid souvenir shops as much as possible. They normally only sell cheap junk, and no one ever needs another T-shirt, pen, magnet, coffee mug, and snow globe in their life. Similarly, everyone could use another book.
When visiting a city, sometimes I stumble upon a shop while walking around. Other times I have to seek out a particular store, or I’ll visit an attraction that holds lots of interest for me and I pick up a book there. I love finding them in other languages, or from an author who has a special connection to the place. Either way, the book I bring home reminds me of the place I visited, and holds a memory from the day I found it. It also looks pretty good decorating my apartment’s shelves. Double win.
These shops are normally well kept and wonderfully curated. People who own/work in bookshops tend to take great pride in their stock. I’ve also noticed that they are usually an interesting breed of human, who doesn't mind chatting with a stranger. It's easy to get them talking about their city, shop, or just books in general.
The subject matter of the books I buy vary from each place. Sometimes it’s Vietnam’s history, poetry from Ireland, architecture around Luang Prabang , or a children’s book from England. I love perusing my books when I return from my trip. Then by the hardest, going against my better judgment, I write the date and stamp it with my nifty book-branding tool. It is nice to bring a piece of the area home with me and have something I can go back to over the years, similar to a photo album. I’ve got quite a collection going, and I’m excited to add to it in the coming years.