Finally comfortable with bookstore browsing during the pandemic

The only bookstore I have visited during the coronavirus pandemic is the Barnes and Noble in my hometown of Gulfport, Miss., and the experience has mostly been unenjoyable since the store re-opened in the spring.

Too many limitations. Too many rules. Too many reduced hours. Not enough new titles. All of this curbed my enthusiasm I had for the store before all heck broke loose back in March.

From March 2017, the start of my newspaper retirement, until March 2020, I bet I went to the store on average four times a week, and I would get a cozy spot to look through new books and magazines from 7 p.m. until closing time.

From May 2020 to August 2020, maybe I’ve gone to the store four times a month. A sign on a table in the café turned me off: “Please place books here that you are not buying today. Books will be sanitized before they are reshelved.”

Sanitized? Really? Things are that bad?

This made me reluctant to pick up a book and read a few pages. Whose rona germs might have been on this copy? I ask this knowing I can always go to the front of the store for the communal free bottle of hand sanitizer to clean up.

But my attitude changed on Sunday, Aug. 16, 2020. My phobia went away and I returned to my Barnes and Noble routine.

I grabbed a copy of a new title and sat down with it in the café. I took my time looking at it and had a comfortable experience.

I liked it so much, I went back to the store on Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020, and took four more new titles, one at a time, to my table.

Man, I’ve made a breakthrough.

I took photos of the five new titles and I am sharing them here because I’ve heard that blog readers like the visual experience.

The title that interested me the most is “Grown Ups,” a work of fiction that sounds like a memoir, and I say sounds because I got the audio version of the book through my Scribd account.

I highly recommend “Grown Ups” because, as Katherine Angel wrote in her review for The Guardian in February 2020, the novel “is jaunty, witty, sexy and funny.” The author, Emma Jane Unsworth, is terrific, as is the audio book’s narrator, actress Chloe Massey, in the “life in the Instagram age” story (The Guardian headline).

“Grown Ups” is about an unmarried “35-year-old British woman who works for an online magazine,” another snippet from Katherine Angel’s review. I almost feel bad I’m unable to come up with a complete review of my own. Maybe it’s Covid-19 laziness.

But I do have an original thought to close out this fine piece.

In the United Kingdom, the title for Unsworth’s book is “Adults,” published by Borough Press, and it was changed to “Grown Ups” when Gallery/Scout Press published it in the U.S. in August 2020.

What’s the deal with “Grown Ups”? Is this to attract fans of Adam Sandler, who made a 2010 film with the same title? Do Adam Sandler fans read?

Merriam Webster goes with grown-ups and I always go with what the dictionary tells me.

Now I’m itching for a hyphen.

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