Hemingway House and the Hemingway cats were just one of the book highlights of my 2.5 day trip Key West. The other was a trip to Books & Books, a non-profit bookshop run by the only living author I turn fan-girl over. Judy Blume. It is not hyperbole or exaggeration of any kind to say this woman was the single biggest influence in my childhood and pre-teen years. So, no WAY was I going to miss visiting her bookstore, even if odds of her being there were slim.
She was there.
She was lovely. I was a blithering idiot, of course. What I could manage to say was nothing, I"m sure, that she hasn't heard a million times over the years, and I'm kicking myself for not having enough wits about me to tell her what I really appreciated about her books (that all her characters had agency and didn't need adults or friends to tell them what was right or wrong), but she was wonderful, kind and patient nevertheless. She was preparing for an extended trip and was in a meeting when I arrived, but she paused the meeting to come out and sign my books (because of COURSE I bought some of her books), and chat with me for a few minutes.
Aside from her books, and her very presence, Books & Books is a fabulous bookshop. I went in with ZERO intention of looking at books beyond Judy Blume's because, as I think you all know, I had already managed to accumulate a fair number of books by this time. (*cough*four boxes*cough*) But as I was making my way to the counter, I found the newest of the Prehistorica pop-up books, Sharks And Other Sea Monsters, and when the woman behind the counter saw me squee'ing over that one, she showed me the wonder of Ocean: A Photicular Book, which has the best holographic images I've ever seen - they honestly look like little movies on the page. I was entranced. It was one of a series and it was killing me to just choose one.
MT had stopped at a cigar shop before meeting me at the bookstore, arriving as I was just starting to chat with JB, and in those few minutes he managed to find 3 more books to add to the pile (two are future xmas gifts) and would have added 2 others had I not already started checking out. If this had been the first stop on our holiday instead of the last, the damage we'd have done to their inventory and our finances would have been impressive. There were just too many interesting books screaming for attention.
So here's my plug: if you ever find yourself in Key West, absolutely go to Books and Books - whether you go to fan girl(boy) over Judy Blume or not, the inventory is sure to appeal to any and all book lovers. Bring a big bag.