Postcard from Milwaukee

22 Nov

I didn’t expect to go to Milwaukee and come home with a suitcase like I’d been to Portland. That is, I bought books. A lot of them.

My name is Jill, and I have a problem.

I should’ve expected this. Milwaukee is full of beer, and I’d planned on going on the Lakefront Brewery tour, so I should’ve known that at some point I’d get the hankering to go book shopping.

For those of you planning on going to Milwaukee, go on the Lakefront tour. It’s $7, you get four samples of beer and a coupon to have more free beer at one of many local establishments. You can also turn in your ticket for a free pint glass afterward. If you happen to get tour guide Josh, you’re in for a good time. Let’s face it, if you’ve been on one brewery tour, you’ve been on most of them. Josh made this one a lot of fun, and I spent more time laughing than I did drinking, which says something, since we did take a break mid-tour to get another pour.

At any rate, once I was finished with the tour and with my freebie beer, which I enjoyed at the Milwaukee Brat House along with a bowl of beer cheese soup, I was definitely in a mood to buy books. Or book. So I thought.

On the trip I’d brought along Hope: A Tragedy by Shalom Auslander, a really fun read. I was on track to finish it before my flights, so I wanted something else on hand, as I’d already gone through the in-flight magazine.

I made my way over to Downtown Books, a really nice used bookstore with super tall shelves and corners of discovery. I did really well with sticking to my plan to buy only one book, until I rounded one of these corners and found some intriguing looking food writing.

I bought four books.

This I thought would be OK, until I got to the Milwaukee airport.

On the day I left Milwaukee, the weather was crummy–snowing, cold, wet. After eating a late breakfast and getting some pastries from the Milwaukee Public Market, I didn’t have much else to do, so I headed to the airport early.

I had no idea there was a used bookstore in the airport itself. I had three hours to kill. After I found Renaissance Books, I thought I was going to miss my flight. Needless to say, I found some interesting stuff–a couple of fencing books for the Boy, a Navy SEALS workout book, a U.S. Olympic yearbook from 1960 and a reprint of the WPA Guide to Massachusetts. It was quite the haul, and a good one at that.

I keep thinking that I’m making progress with reading my pile of books, and I am. I’m just building the pile a little faster than I can read it. Perhaps the lesson is to stop mixing booze and books, as fun as it may be. Somehow, that’s a lesson I don’t really want to learn.


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