Today, on Independent Bookstore Day, Austin hosted their own bookstore crawl, where people go to a list of bookstores on a scavenger hunt for unique items at each store to get a prize. In order to win said prize, an individual would have to post their photos on social media with a specific item listed. Each bookstore was across Austin, some going towards Pflugerville, while others were a bit closer to Buda. An entire event dedicated to seeing what Austin has in regards to books and overall community. Sounds like my kind of event.
So, naturally, I skipped out on work and spent all day going to each bookstore on the list. I mean, I could’ve supposedly done this after work, but who wants to deal with evening Austin traffic after being on their feet all day? Not me.
The day started at around 9:30 am after I enlisted one of my friends into this adventure. He knew where some of these stores were, and I felt more comfortable driving around downtown Austin when I wasn’t the one driving. All I had to do was pay for his gas (a fair trade, really). We didn’t really map out the stores in any specific order; we just went to the ones we knew we could get to easily and went from there.
Stop One: BookPeople
Oh, BookPeople. How I sometimes wished you weren’t located in the mass of downtown Austin. Then I could visit you more often without the stress of driving. I had been to this bookstore plenty of times before, and it’s always a good place to be. They host hundreds of author signings and events in their store, and everyone is always so friendly. We took more time perusing the store than it did to complete the task: sitting in the barber’s chair.
We browsed the store a bit, talked to one of the ladies about TV shows like Game of Thrones and Handmaid’s Tale, and even got some cool items left over from some of the signings they hosted in the past. Not a bad place to start.
Stop Two: Balcones Books
My friend and I debated on how to pronounce the store’s name until we actually got to the store and ask the man there. And as I’m typing this up, I somehow forgot how he had said it. I am so terrible with names. The store itself was really nice and quaint, from my first impression overall. It gave me a sort of library feel. There were snacks and waters on tables for patrons to take, one of the ladies there brought in her dog to entertain the crowd, and the selection gave off an old nostalgic kind of feel. Apparently, all the books there were from the man’s personal collection that spanned around 30 years. 30 years worth of books compiled into a store–talk about shelf goals.
The task was simple for this one: a selfie with a book. I originally intended to do one of those where the body looks like it’s connected to the book itself, but there were no books to feasibly do that. So I just took a picture next to a Gaiman book.
I bought three books from this store since there was a “Buy two, get one free” deal going on for new customers. Obviously, I hit that deal up because it’s books and shopping. I ended up with the Neil Gaiman book and some classics that I’ve been meaning to read. Overall, a quaint store with a nice, calming atmosphere.
Stop Three: Bookwoman
Bookwoman is a small shop full of books created by women. It’s next to a fabrics shop, which I found really interesting because it seemed like something I would do with my grandma. We’d go look at some books, then go get some fabrics for her next quilt, or vice versa. While I enjoyed the selection, I found the scavenger hunt piece to be a little unique: take a picture with an inspiring children’s book.
For some reason, I thought the piece would be something like, “find a book that discusses (specific woman’s issue)” or have some kind of feminist flare to it. But, I didn’t mind the children’s book one that much. One of my nieces has a birthday coming up, and I did consider getting her a book until grandma told me she had that covered. In some sense, I should sort of care about what kind of books the people in my life are reading, and that holds especially true for the smaller members of it. This book that I’m holding falls under the kind of books I’d hope the nieces would enjoy since it’s about a princess that refuses to follow the normal princess rules.
Stop Four: Austin Books and Comics
My friend calls this place ABC for short. I had been meaning to come back to this store so I could get some more graphic novels but hadn’t had the chance to amongst the chaos that is my life. And, also, because some comics are expensive. I wanted to get some more of Saga, and it was either fifteen for the small volumes or fifty for the big ones. If I had gotten paid earlier, maybe I would have splurged for it, but it didn’t happen. I did get some smaller comics for ten bucks a piece, though. I’ll be reading those later in the week.
Comic book stores always have the coolest decorations. Who doesn’t like a statue of a superhero propped up in the middle of the room? There were two scavenger hunt pieces like this, and this was number one. I liked it a lot, mainly because I can look like an idiot and not be judged too harshly (I think).
After stop number four, things got a little…hectic for me and the friend I had dragged into this mess. Not only was it becoming afternoon, when Austin traffic becomes its own version of hell, but there were ten more places to go, and half of them were the same store. And each location for this store was spread out all across Austin. They have so many locations in Austin area alone that I know for a fact that we didn’t get all of them because not all of them were on the list.
We decided to go to all five of the Half Price Books locations. And we didn’t map out every single one beforehand. Three words to summarize that adventure: So. Much. Driving.
Stops Five through Nine: Half Price Books
So the friend and I decided to try and do all of these stores as a rapid fire round. We go in, get the picture, get out. The only time we actually browsed was at stop one on N. Lamar, and that was because he needed a bathroom break.
Oddly enough, this location had set up a board at the front of the store with a clue as to how to find the alien guy. My friend and I just passed it and looked for the alien ourselves, since we both had been there before and could figure out where it was on our own. Oops. I guess we purposely took the fun out of the hunt.
I swear it’s a different store. This one is on S. Lamar. I know you can’t really see the signature because of the glare, but it is that very poster. It was also located at the front of the store, but my friend and I ended up walking across the entire store because we thought it would be hanging on the wall instead. Man, we both felt really dumb. But we did find a large cookbook section at this location, which is a key point of interest for a foodie like me. I’ll take that as a positive.
Man, I hate glares. I could have made my friend take the photo, I guess, but it would have taken away from the whole “selfie” aspect of the tasks. This location was the South Park Meadows location and was easy to find. And the store was nice enough to set out cookies for those of us that passed by. I personally didn’t take one, but my friend was appreciative of it. We hadn’t eaten the entire time we were doing this, partly because I couldn’t eat fast food without the risk of an allergic reaction, partly because we didn’t have the means to buy fast food anyways. So the snacks were nice.
Now, this is where mapping the locations beforehand would have been really handy at this point. It was around 1:00 pm by now, and traffic was crap. The last two locations were in the northern part of Austin. It took us almost an hour to get to the fourth one. Ugh. The only fun part was that I turned my friend into Hamilton trash by making him listen to some of the songs on the way up there.
We got the picture with the worm, which was at the Parmer’s Crossing location. At this point, we were getting tired, mainly due to hunger. But we pushed on because we knew that if we stopped now, we wouldn’t get back into the rhythm.
The Anderson Mill location simply said to take a picture with something by Jane Austen. I went with all of them because A) it was right by the door on display and B) why not? I just hate how the glare made its way in, but at that moment I wasn’t too worried about it.
Stop Ten: Dragon’s Lair Comics and Fantasy
When we got to this shop, it was busy. There was some sort of tabletop tournament going on in the middle of the store. And it was also really hot inside, and we were both wearing jeans. It was uncomfortable, so we made the trip was quick. I just had a hard time deciding on a graphic novel to put beside Deadpool. I went with a Deadpool one. Double the Deadpool.
I hope the store isn’t that concerned with people touching their statues because Deadpool and I definitely touched fingers. It was a great moment.
Stop Eleven: Malvern Books
I once went to this store after an allergist appointment. It was quaint and gave off more of a scholarly vibe than any of the other stores I’ve been at. My friend decided to sit in the car for this one because he was tired. I ventured into the store for the task: finding a book originally written in French.
Well, that was easy enough. I additionally took a selfie with one of them, since the event seemed to really like selfies.
Stop Twelve: Brave New Books
Unfortunately, this store was closed due to them moving locations, so I couldn’t really complete the task there. The best I could do, given traffic and parking situation, was take a quick shot of the front of the store.
Only now do I realize that they wanted a selfie with the store, which I didn’t do because I just didn’t think of it right there in the middle of the street, but I don’t think it’ll necessarily count against me…I hope.
Stop Thirteen: MonkeyWrench
This shop was interesting. I had been there before, and I knew that they hosted events that were, for lack of better wording on my part, a bit political before coming in. So finding something that interests me was a bit hard. Most of their stuff is interesting in general, but I did find something that worked for the task.
Being as allergic as I am to foods, the topic of growing my own has been discussed before. So, if I were to raise my own chickens, I would want to know what to expect, and this book seemed to be right up my alley on that subject. Plus, the book cover looks nice. Yes, I am one of those people.
Final Stop: Tribes Comics & Games
My friend said that this would be a good place to end the crawl because it was close to his place. And it was hot inside this comic book store too. What is it with comic book stores being unbearably hot? The store itself was nice and clean, and not nearly as busy as Dragon’s Lair. It was easy to strike up a conversation with the staff as I took a picture with the glittery hand.
My friend finally broke down and bought himself a drink from one of the coolers. It was kind of common courtesy at that moment since we were there to take a picture of one of their decorations. The staff was friendly enough, and I think I would head back there if given the chance.
And that was all of the stops on the Austin Bookstore Crawl. After that, I relaxed at my friend’s place for a couple of hours before heading home.
Man, I knew it was a good idea to ditch work and make this an all day thing. I feel like I hadn’t seen all of what these stores had to offer (my fault, really), but I definitely have a feel for each location. And they’re all unique in their own way. There are some that seem family friendly, ones that appear more adult, and others that just do their own thing. If this crawl didn’t happen, who knows when I would have made it out to even half of these stores to see them for myself.
So, the crawl did its job in my case. I got to see all kinds of cool bookstores across Austin. I wouldn’t mind doing this again, if it got a second run-through.