One of the perks of my new job was getting the day off on Tuesday for the mayoral primary here in Baltimore. We at Baltimore Book Blog took the opportunity to accomplish another one of what we would consider our civic duties: visiting a new bookstore. We packed up the diaper bag and boarded the #11 bus, bound for Towson and Ukazoo Books.
There’s something marvelously retro about Ukazoo. The store is nestled in the rear of a shopping center on Dulaney Valley Road across the street from Towson Town Center. While the mall has had a recent facelift (complete with larger-than-life P.F. Chang’s statues out front), you’re still partying like it’s 1999 in the shopping center. Sharing the same strip with Ukazoo are a travel agent and a CD store. It’s as if Bill Clinton is still in the White House, no one has ever heard of an iPod or a Kindle, and you need a professional travel agent to book an airline ticket. Where’s my latte?!
Inside, Ukazoo is enormous. The place seems to go on forever, with nicely priced used books mixed in with the new. There was a coupon in that week’s issue of the City Paper offering used paperbacks for $1.99 and hardbacks for $2.99 (limit 73 books per customer!). We took advantage of the coupon to make a few purchases. I finally bought a copy of Jane Smiley’s A Thousand Acres, which Johnny read in high school. Back when we lived in southern Illinois, I always eyed up a copy of this novel when we visited the Bookworm. Johnny bought a gently used edition of Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls for our friend Dan and Michael Palin’s Hemingway’s Adventure. We left wanting to buy more but knowing we could only lug home so much on the bus.
On the days when I start to wonder if I shouldn’t switch to e-books, I go to a place like Ukazoo, and it’s hard to imagine not having that physical object: the turning page, the cracking spine. I’m glad there are still places like Ukazoo (and CD stores, and travel agents) out there.