This weekend Angela and I attended the 17th annual West Fork Road Highland Games, hosted at our friend's house in Cincinnati. The Games themselves are quite a tradition, and we're now developing our own tradition around them.
Angela's aunt lives in Cincinnati and she graciously keeps Josephine for us. This allows Angela and I to have a night to ourselves in downtown Cincinnati. We stay in a hotel, then wake up and have a leisurely morning before the Games kick off.
We've stayed in a number of different hotels over the years. By far our favorite is 21c Museum Hotel. This is a lovely hotel in which an art gallery exists. We've stayed here twice, and thoroughly enjoyed the exhibition each time. There's something hard to explain about how the presence of art in a hotel changes the perception of that hotel. I don't often look forward to staying in hotels, let alone walking around inside them; but 21c is a real treat.
But my favorite part of our Cincinnati trips is our visit to The Booksellers on Fountain Square. This is a plain little bookstore with a small cafe inside. Their collection of books is not particularly expansive, and their prices aren't particularly noteworthy. But every single time we've gone in we've received excellent recommendations from the staff.
This, above all, makes The Booksellers stand out. Their employees are friendly and engaging, and take time to listen to us explain what books we like. They then make suggestions, and in every visit they've always made terrific suggestions.
Earlier this year we made a St. Patrick's Day trip to Cincinnati and stopped at The Booksellers. The book Skippy Dies caught my eye based solely on the title. The clerk saw me snapping a picture and came over to talk to me. He assured me the book was funny and enjoyable, and spoke intelligently about the author. How could I not purchase it? And he was right. The book was great!
This year, Angela shared a couple of titles she had recently completed and the clerk made his recommendation. He cautioned Angela that this book was complex, and that it took some effort to stick with; but everyone who finished it really liked it. I'm looking forward to hearing Angela talk to me about her journey with this title!
The clerk also cheerfully recommended some books for Josephine at our request. We've recently started reading Shel Silverstein's poems to Josie, so were looking for other kid-friendly poetry collections. Without any hesitation the clerk pulled out a volume and indicated that it had contemporary poems as well as classics. He also cheerfully praised our independent selection of The Book with No Pictures as a terrific choice.
(This latter has proven a real delight for me to read to Josie. I enjoy emoting the stories I read to her, and using silly voices. She looks forward to story time, and I look forward to her earnest giggles. "The Book with No Pictures" rewards us both in this regard!)
There are small, independent bookstores here in Columbus, and I'm sure we could get the same quality of personal recommendations from these local establishments; but there's something extra nice about having a gem like The Booksellers to look forward to as part of our Cincinnati tradition.