Bookworm Books in West Yellowstone, Montana was by far the best retail discovery of the trip. A reader’s paradise, the place is literally crammed floor-to-ceiling with books of every description, many of them used, some not, most always in no particular order. The aisles are narrow and crooked, and often end in sudden claustrophobic book cul de sacs. One crammed-to-bursting wall sported a hand-lettered sign that promised, “In order by Author!”, as in: Can you believe it? (And anyway, it wasn't entirely true.)
This would all be annoying, I suppose, if one were searching for something in particular, but of course, “vacation” means that is not the case. So it’s not a big deal when you find “A Movable Feast” snuggled up to a Nancy Drew mystery. There were antique books and crappy books and classics and random first editions shrink wrapped in clear packaging perched atop coffee table books, and all of this stacked beneath a box of vintage western postcards: "Wish you were here!", scrawled in careful, shaky handwriting in the blue ink of a long-ago fountain pen on the back of a card featuring a solemn family of sad Native Americans.
I prefer a used book, of course, a book that has pages soft with use and the smell of another place entirely. And even with the amazing vistas of Yellowstone and the Tetons calling from just outside the door, it still felt worthwhile to take the time to run a hand over the spines, struggle through a few paragraphs of “Ulysses”, take photographs, breathe in the musty smell of pressed printed paper.
Ah…a good bookstore. There is no substitute.