Throwing Caution to the Winds: A Quick Trip to Manhattan

Yesterday’s post about the disturbing trend of bookstores stocking less and less books sparked a lot of wonderful comments. Thank you so much for taking the time to share your thoughts. I love the discussion that happens here!

You remember that I mentioned the Strand bookstore in my post? My favorite bookstore in Manhattan? I’ve written about it before on this blog. In that post, I used some photos of a previous trip to the Strand, whose long red awning is emblazoned with  the words “Strand Bookstore. Old. Rare. New. 18 Miles of Books.” About the time I was ready to hit Publish, Don came downstairs, bleary-eyed, and chatted with me for a while. He had to go into Manhattan for an audition. I sighed and spoke of the Strand. I’ve been missing Manhattan. I really only go there for work or the rare special occasion. I can’t justify the price of bus fare otherwise.

Don said: Why don’t you come with me?

I said: Oh no – too much money, it’s rainy outside, what about Scout’s dinner at 4:00 and, no, we can’t spend the money.

Then I thought about it. My nickname as a child was Cautious Claudia. I always hesitate. Don is much more spontaneous. It makes for a good balance in a marriage. I ended up deciding not to go. It would be better on another day. We’ve had and have a lot of worries and stress here at the cottage. I didn’t want to spend the money, yes, but oh lord, did I need a day away from everything.

Don: Oh come on. Just do it.

And I did. In a quick 30 minutes, I showered, fed Scout, and we were out of here.

For both of us, who usually travel solo into Manhattan, it was so nice to travel together. It was sort of a date. Don went to his appointments, I immediately headed down to Union Square and walked the two blocks to the Strand. I ran into an old friend on the walk – an actress who I adore and have worked with more than a few times. The perfect, unexpected pleasure. It’s all in the timing, my friends. And who you know, of course.

After hugs and catching up, I proceeded on to the bookstore and immediately got lost in books, books and more books. Oh my goodness, there are so many books that one gets overwhelmed quickly. The building is old and wonderful with wooden floors and radiators that produce so much heat that I always have to take off my coat. I spent a couple of hours there. Don eventually came down and met me. Then some quick food to go from Pret a Manger and off to the Port Authority Bus Terminal for the ride home.

Isn’t he a cutie?

I nearly left the bookstore without any books – it can be that overwhelming. But I remembered two books I had seen about American Popular Song and I ran back to get them. One is out of print and one is impossible to find anywhere else.

I’m so happy I found them.

An escape from our reality for an afternoon? Priceless. A ride with Don, a chance encounter with an old friend, hours spent in an enchanting bookstore, walking in Manhattan? Just as priceless.

Happy Wednesday.


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  1. says

    How fun!! I would be in hog heaven browsing in a big bookstore (or library!) for hours :::sigh of pleasure:::. Good for you for throwing caution to the wind & accompanying your sweetie, and for buying the hard-to-find books =). I also tend to not be good at spur-of-the-moment; what I’ve been actively trying to do the past couple years whenever my knee-jerk reaction is “no” is to not say it and to instead think about what I would enjoy in the experience if I said “yes” — very rarely have I regretted saying “yes” ;-). Love the pics of you and Don.

  2. says

    Claudia, So glad to hear that you listened to the spontaneous voice of Don and joined him for a trip to Manhattan. Our marriage is like that. I’m more sponaneous and Dave is usually worried about the money. It does create a nice balance except when he gets overly worried.

    Your day sounds like it was a great choice for both of you. I’m keeping my fingers and toes crossed that Don gets the job (if he wants it) Your pictures on the bus are cute. I miss New York. Haven’t been to Manhattan much. Everyone on my moms side of the family lives on Long Island (that’s where my mom was raised) Most everyone is gone now (aunts, grandmother, uncles) but I still have lots of cousins. Hubby and I need to take a trip there in the next year or so.

    I would get lost in the bookstore. It sounds heavenly!!! Nothing like a good book to take you away!!!

  3. says

    You sound like me, with sometimes not wanting to go anywhere…so many excuses…but then when you throw caution to the wind and say, “what the heck” ~ it turns out to be an unexpected pleasure! I am so glad you had fun in Manhattan and that you got to spend a couple of hours in your beloved bookstore. Sounds heavenly. I would love to spend hours in that bookstore!

  4. says

    Good morning Claudia – I’m so glad you listened to your inner self and decided to go with Don. What a fun day!! And a time to get away and enjoy each other’s company without the worry of all of the everyday things at home. I’m ready to go at the drop of a hat – anywhere, anytime. John is just the opposite. I guess that’s why opposites attract!!

    Good for you,


  5. says

    Hi, Claudia…SO glad you threw caution to the winds and went with Don. I understand your careful nature…I have always been the biblical “Martha” who is cumbered with many things, anxious and full of care. Being spontaneous is simply not in my nature–I’m guessing it’s a first child thing. Anyway, I’m so glad you were able to shed your cares for a day and have fun in Manhattan! On our last visit to NYC, our Big Apple Guide took us to the Strand as our final stop–for a family of book lovers it was heaven! One of my favorite memories is my mother and I browsing through all the used bookstores on Charing Cross Road in London…we won’t talk about how many books we had to lug around the rest of the day and then squeeze into our suitcases! And by the way, what a nice husband you have! Have a wonderful day, xxoo Martha

    • Claudia says

      I do have a nice husband, Martha! Oh, the thought of Charing Cross Road makes me want to get to London again!

  6. Donnamae says

    Oh yeah, me too, so glad you threw caution to the wind! You needed that I’m sure. Hope Don’s audition went well. And, you are both a.dor.a.ble! Just so you know! 😉

  7. says

    Claudia, I am so glad you went with Don, such a precious memory to make. And you ran into an old friend, and got to spend time in that wonderful bookstore! Sounds like a magical day. Jacqueline at Cabin & Cottage wrote about a wonderful bookstore, too, but of course you know that, as it was your post that inspired hers. So wonderful to know there are others out there who still love real books as much as I do!!

  8. says

    I love that you had an impromptu date to a cherished place. You all are so cute together. Enjoy your new books. I’m sure the whole experience was worth the money.


  9. Annette Tracy says

    Such a fun day out w/your sweetie. You two are such a cute couple. I feel that even though money is a worry, we need to treat ourselves every so often, otherwise we’ll be wearing a white jacket that we can’t get out of. I’m so glad you went and had such fun. That book store sounds wonderful.

  10. says

    I read this and smiled, Claudia. You really do sound like me, and my husband is very much like yours. It takes a lot to get me out of my comfort zone and my guy likes to go, go, go! When we go into downtown Chicago (1/2 hour away), I feel like a kid in a candy store. I don’t know why I have to be pulled to do these things! Anyway, I’m glad you went, had some fun together, met up with your friend and got to spend time in the bookstore (a passion of mine). Let’s make a pact to take more chances!


  11. says

    I’m so glad you decided to go into the city! There is a similar bookstore in Portland, OR, called Powell’s. It is equally amazing!

    What fun to run into an old friend, as well. A nice outing, books and time with your husband – a perfect day!

    • Claudia says

      I’ve heard about Powell’s – in fact, I referenced in the previous post – I would love to go there someday. I hear such great things about it.

  12. says

    Bravo for going! Sounds like a dreamy day. Your comment about you being cautious and your hubby being more impromptu is just like my hubby and I, only he’s the cautious one and I’m the free spirit who is ready for anything. It’s a good thing for balance in a marriage. ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

  13. Carol Ann says

    What a fun post to read! You had an adventure! My husband and I try to something like that together every weeked. It’s usually a free thing. We go explore a park, etc. even if it’s only for an hour. We do the same thing when we are with our 7 year old grandson. We find something interesting to look at or see, usually free. We just have to look for it. So happy you decided to go with your husband. Love your post:)

    • Claudia says

      That’s a great idea, Carol Ann. Don and I do that occasionally but not often enough. You’ve inspired me!

  14. Lori says

    Hi Claudia,
    I worked for Barnes and Noble from 9/2007 to 4/2009, long enough to see and be a part of the changing business. I was on board when Nook first came out and soon after the e-reader took off, we were informed, as managers, that the book inventory would gradually give way to increased “gift” departments. People were, not surprisingly, really into buying e-books and online magazines. Fortunately for me, I left before things really got out of hand. We all felt that perhaps, we would end up working in a gift shop that just happened to sell books. The music department gradually decreased in merchandise as well. Sad to say as I too love nothing more than to have a cup of something and peruse the shelves in search of the next page-turner….such a shame. I am behind on your blog so will take this chance to catch up a bit :)
    Glad you and Don took a trip to the city, sounds like a treat!!

    • Claudia says

      Lori, thank you for this insight into B & N. You’re absolutely right – it is turning into a gift shop that also carries books.

  15. Lori says

    Your trip sounds lovely, those spur-of-the-moment trips are the best trips indeed.
    I own a Nook but haven’t used it in over a year because I missed holding the real thing, something about the smell, the feel of the page…the only thing I like about the e-reader is the ease of reading while you’re in bed, but give me a paperback any day.
    Thank you for the great posts!


    • Claudia says

      I feel the same way. The Nook is stashed away on top of a bookcase, ironically, and I never use it.

  16. SueZK says

    Claudia- I don’t often meet people who get my love of bookstores, except for my daughter. As I read your post I could feel the feelings you had. There is something about a book in your hands. It can be a friend, a pacifier, a teacher. The local Borers closed and it broke my heart. There is still a barnes and nobel but somehow it lacks the warmth that borders had. Im glad its there though .
    Glad you treated yourself :) You two are so good looking together :)

    • Claudia says

      I miss Borders, too. I used to go to the very first Borders (when it was an independent bookstore) in Ann Arbor, MI. It was so wonderful. So I always had a fondness for those bookstores and was so sad when they closed.

  17. says

    So glad you gave in to the spontaneity, Claudia. I have a hard time with it too. In the end it’s money well spent – call it a mental health day! Ann

  18. KimberlynCreations says

    At a first, quick glance I thought you had run into Dustin Hoffman while you were there! Thinking of course that you could possibly know him because of your professions. Then I realized that unless he had found the Fountain of Youth, that could not be him. So, you can tell your husband he looks like a sexy young Dustin Hoffman! You guys are so cute together.

    • Claudia says

      I’ll pass that along! Of course, Don is over 6’4″ and Dustin is rather short! Don will be happy to hear the words “fountain of youth!”

  19. Siuziq1023 says

    You guys are such a cute couple! I’m also glad you did something fun and spontaneous. Sounds like it was meant to be!

  20. says

    You made a goooood decision Claudia (: I’m married to someone who is very spontaneous too ~ my friend calls him Mr. Zippity Do Dah.

    How are they getting along in Manhatten?

    • Claudia says

      Well, I was in Midtown and then Union Square and everything seemed back to normal. But as far as lower Manhattan, I don’t know. Subway service seems back to normal.

  21. Missy says

    This bookstore post reminded me of a movie I once caught the last half of. I think it had Anne Bancroft in it and was about her correspondance with a bookseller in England. The time was during and after WWII. It was a sweet and wonderful movie. Does anyone know the name of it? I’d love to get it and see the whole thing.

    • Claudia says

      I think it was “(fill in the blank) Charing Cross Road” – can’t remember the entire title. Does that sound familiar?

      • Missy says

        Yes, and I think the comment about Charing Cross Road reminded me. I’ll bet if I looked up Ann Bancroft movie sI’ll see it. Why didn’t I think of it? Duh! Let’s hope it really was Ann Bancroft! lol

  22. says

    Oh…what a fun post, Claudia! You and your husband look like two young kids snuggled up side by side. What a perfect and spontaneous day to take a break from the homefront.
    My husband would be so jealous of your adventure in Manhattan. He spent a portion of his childhood living in Manhattan while his Dad was getting his doctorate at Columbia University. He has shared so many happy memories with me. I have yet to visit….Maybe, one of these days.
    Have a great day and enjoy your “new” books.

  23. says

    I’m so glad you got to go, Claudia, and that you were able to find two books that you wanted. It is lovely to take those spontaneous journeys now and then and how lovely that you got to speak with an old friend. I’ll have to find the Strand the next time I’m in the City.

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