If you’re planning a trip to Ojai, there are a few places you have to hit up. One of the essentials is Bart’s Books, located slightly off the main drag, this outdoor bookstore is the bibliophiles dream come true. Chock full of classics, contemporaries and everything in between, you can lounge in the sunshine or find yourself a shady nook and read to your hearts content. The staff is uber helpful and more than happy to leave you to your perusal if you just want a quiet place to read.
I stopped in the other day just to take a peak and wound up spending a couple hours reading by a window, watching the other patrons come and go out of the corner of my eye. The courtyard, which is open to the sky and the hot Ojai sun was just too warm, but within one of the open-air rooms, the temperature was pleasant enough to while away some time. I situated myself in a cozy armchair by the hearth and buried my nose in a first edition copy of Tehanu: The Last Book of Earthsea, a novel which eventually became the inspiration for Studio Ghibli’s Tales from Earthsea…yes, I am a huge nerd. I regret nothing.
So, next time you’re in Ojai, swing by Bart’s Books a pick up a book you’ve been meaning to read…or let destiny guide you and pick a book at random. You might be surprised by what you find.
1. Ariel: Poems by Sylvia Plath First American Edition 1966
2. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath vintage paperback
3. Vintage Woven Leather Flats – Size 11
4. Vintage Style Floral Turban Headband
5. Vintage Deadstock Black Clubmaster Eye Glasses
6. Vintage 1950s Straw Hat
7. Calligraphy Starter Kit
8. Busy Bee Brooch
9. Vintage Glass Cloche Bell Jar Dome
10. Long Wool Skirt
11. Crazy Horse Leather Bag
12. Vintage 1950s Black Lace Gloves
13. Vintage Typewriter Oliveti Lettera 22
So, my obsession with Ms. Plath has reached new highs of late, so much so that my Etsy favorites are channeling her vibe super hard. Decided to put together this little wishlist of Plath-ian goodies that I’m pretty sure Sylvia would have approved of. That vintage Oliveti typewriter is just like one Plath used. She was so fond of writing letters, I imagine her handwriting was impeccable, so I included a little Calligraphy starter kit to prettify your poetry. That darling bumble bee brooch is an homage to her father, whose work with bees Sylvia much admired. And of course, what Sylvia-themed wishlist would be complete without copies of her most famous works, The Bell Jar and a first addition copy of Ariel.
Fun fact: I was voted biggest bookworm in my high school superlatives. This is probably because I spent the majority of my senior year with my nose buried in a book while my teachers futilely tried to get me to pay attention. My mother used to joke that I was the only child in the world who regularly had her reading privileges revoked as a form of punishment. In short, I was what one might call an avid reader for most of my life, but I’ve found myself reading much less lately. I suppose it’s a natural side effect of growing up; having more responsibilities and much less down time has resulted in much less literary adventure time. One of my resolutions for the year 2015 is to get back into it. I’ve put together a list of some 200 odd books I want to read before I turn 30 (you can take a peek here) and I’ll be doing a little book report here on the blog to hold myself accountable and maybe also have some interesting conversations with folks who want to participate in what amounts to an internet book club.
For the inaugural edition of my monthly Book Club series, I read Kurt Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle, is a story about the end of the world. The narrator, John, sets out initially to write a book entitled The Day The World Ended, about the day the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. His research leads him to one Dr. Felix Hoenikker, the nobel prize-winning physicist credited as the father of the atomic bomb, and the living legacy of his three strange children; a midget, a giantess and a model builder, each of which carries a tiny piece of the apocalypse in their pocket, the inheritance of a mad genius. John’s strange journey leads him all the way to San Lorenzo, a forsaken scrap of rock jutting from the sea, whose inhabitants live in squalor and follow the spiritual guidance of a mysterious man named Bokonon. Here, John comes face to face with all three of the Hoenikker children and the terrifying secret they keep. He discovers the truth at the bottom of all the lies Bokononism is built on and realizes his true life’s purpose, as well as the essential folly of all mankind.
I didn’t read any of Vonnegut’s work until the last year or so, and now I’m bummed I missed out on him in high school. His work is weird and surreal and deeply ironic. There’s humor and horror and heaps of social commentary tied up in the plot. If I had read this in high school, I probably would have skipped all my religious studies and just committed myself to Bokononism. Many of my favorite quotes from the book come directly from the Book of Bokonon itself and seem to summarize the realities of the world in a way that is both poignant and profound. Also, I appreciate a religion that can acknowledge that it’s built on lies, but that they are necessary lies, designed to bring comfort and peace in a world fraught with pain and violence.
All and all, I found this book to be a quick, engaging read that only confirmed my fondness for Vonnegut’s peculiar brand of writing. Have you read Cat’s Cradle? How did you feel about it? Do you have any favorites when it comes to Vonnegut’s stories? Any suggestions for books I should add to my ever-growing list?