Without constraints I can spend hours in a good used bookstore. Without constraints, I could probably live in one.
But on any given occasion you will eventually need to eat, or go to the bathroom, go to work, or go to class. And if you’re with people? They won’t want to stay as long. Not as long as me.
Then there is the matter of ‘opening hours’… Don’t think I never thought of turning into a mouse and sticking around after closing.
And so one day, well over a decade ago, I was out with a bunch of friends and we stopped in at one of those bookstores that had more books than shelving space. One of those wonderful places where, at the time, not everything was in order. Things were scattered, and piled, and everywhere.
There is no better place than to dig for treasure.
And among the treasure in that brief visit was an old pulp science fiction book. I read the back: Giant Telepathic Spiders from Space had taken over the world. They patrolled the broken human cities, rounding up what was left of the human race. There was little hope for humanity, until a human was born with telepathy. He would be the seed of the resistance, and humanty’s chance at overthrowing the spiders. The Giant Telepathic Spiders from Space.
It is exactly the kind of thing I wanted to read, and it was probably only about $3.
But, I had mid-terms coming up, and I had so many books that I hadn’t yet read. If I had that book, I would probably read it instead of studying…
I could always find it again later — after all, how hard could it be, to track down a book about Giant Telepathic Spiders from Space?
After midterms, I thought about that book, and over the following years I would look for that book. But I didn’t remember what it was called, nor did I remember the author. I returned to that same bookstore, but it wasn’t there.
This bothered me for a long, long time. That was in Vancouver. Years and years later I was living in Calgary, and found myself with a routine that gave me a decent amount of free time. I still thought about that book, and I still looked for it whenever I went into a bookstore. But nobody had ever heard of it, and I never came across it, and a quick google search never brought it up.
But I finally set myself to the task. Not just a quick browse in passing. I decided that
I spent hours. A search on multiple search engines, with a variety of search terms, checking pages and pages deep on the results.
But I didn’t find it. Somehow — for whatever reason — nothing came up. I will say that in the process of searching, I came across a lot of other really good books — great books, that I proceeded to acquire and read, whether from the local library, through an Inter-Library Loan, or from one of the many (excellent) Calgarian books stores.
But nothing about Giant Telepathic Spiders from Space.
It had been long enough that it seemed entirely possible that the original book visit in question had never actually happened, and that book had never been written, and I just dreamed about it and thought it was real and had now spent many many years looking for a book that didn’t exist. . .
It sounds like something I’d do.
And that was that. I continued looking for it, but for a couple more years, I found no whiff, no trace, and no sign of it. I spoke to many many people, and not one of them had even heard of it. And so I was left wondering, until just a few months ago…