Book stores have special meaning for me. When I studied economics at the University of Washington, I remember walking across campus to the bookstore to buy my text books. A new quarter meant new classes and new books. I felt excited, eager for the new courses and wondered what was ahead of me. Back then, I’d never heard of lavender (except as the color of a dress) and I could not have guessed that some years later, I’d be invited to the University Book Store to sign my book “Discover Cooking with Lavender.”
My life has changed considerably over the years but the bookstore remains nearly the same. Yes, there’s a poster hung near the back entrance advertising I-Pads. There’s a tech center selling computers, printers and other electronics up the stairs, next to the gift wrap counter which has served shoppers for years. People walk around the store with cell phones. However the parking at the back of the store is as it was 30 years ago, an attendant offers a ticket for validation if you spend $5 or more. As you enter through the back of the store, you will find text books on the lower level off to the right. This area looks still utilitarian with its rows of shelves labeled with the subject. Today, many of the shelves were nearly empty because fall term is almost over. I found the economics section and remembered how expensive the econometric text books were. For example, “Time Series Analysis: Forecasting and Control” cost $32.95 and that was back in 1977!
As I walked out the text book area, I found myself in the art supplies section, always one of my favorites. Sketching tablets, paints, pastel pencils and an enormous array of office supplies lined the shelves. In the past, I’d enjoyed browsing in this part of the store and imagining my personal art studio.
I headed upstairs to the main floor where I found the section devoted to UW logo wear. Purple tee shirts, sweatshirts, husky caps, and cheerleading outfits fill the shelves. The magazines, candy and cosmetics are where they’ve always been. The small café in the back of the store did not exist when I was a student. I wish it had, I would have sat at one of the tables to read. Now students sit at the tables with their laptops checking email.
The rest of this floor and the next level contain books on gardening, cooking, architecture, poetry, politics, and history and on and on. Over the years, I’ve spent hours browsing these shelves. I headed for the cook book section to check out my book and to prepare for my book signing event scheduled for Wednesday, December 1st, at 7 p.m.
Browsing the cook book section, I looked for my book, finally spotting it sandwiched between Greg Atkinson’s “Entertaining in the Northwest Style: A Menu Cookbook” and Jerry Traunfeld’s “The Herbal Kitchen: Cooking with Fragrance and Flavor.” My small, beautiful book had found excellent company. To get a quick photo, I pulled my book out and placed it on the shelf tagged Northwest Books. As I snapped a picture, I smiled at the thought of my book here in my favorite book store. Tomorrow, I will have realized my dream of returning to University Book Store as an author.
As I walked to my car, once again I thought of change. The bookstore with its same look and feel caused me to realize how much I had changed since those days when I was a student. My interests had gradually, but unmistakably, shifted from economic analysis to food, cooking and writing. I felt happy that I had been able to study at one of the finest universities in the country with an exceptional economics faculty, and even happier that I’d had the pleasure of working as an economist, a business executive and now as a culinary writer.
Please come to University Book Store on Wednesday, December 1st at 7 p.m. to learn more about my journey from the dismal science to the world of lavender and herbal cuisine. I’ll be sharing some ideas for creating easy, elegant and economical gifts for the holidays.