The Hip Mom Attempts to Read
If you love good books and shopping local, check out Magic City Books, Decopolis and Tulsa Toy Depot.
Ahhhh….books. I was always one of those quiet, weird kids who was constantly reading something, even if it was just the cereal boxes or my mother’s dorky Reader’s Digests during breakfast before school. And, while assigned homework reading was never as much fun as reading Judy Blume, I still far preferred reading to doing something hard like chemistry. Some of the greatest books I’ve read were assigned in high school: Night, The Hobbit, Madame Bovary, Pride and Prejudice. And some of the books I read in college – I’ll boldly say – changed my life. It’s really hard, for example, when you’re reading Middlemarch, which follows the life of the intellectual, relatable and strong Dorothea Brooke, to then go out thoughtlessly to a frat party in search of a shallow chat near the beer bong when you’re hearing Dorothea’s narrative point of view in your head!
Of course, unless you get a real booky job, it’s hard to keep up with reading once you’ve launched some sort of career, unless you’re deliberate about it. (Please tell me I’m not the only one who spent my early 20s working and going out after working?) And then you get married and have a baby? Forget about it! For so many years, while I was floundering around with a newborn, or a newborn and a toddler, the most my tired, foggy brain could muster was US Weekly, and then, later on, a pathetic scroll through Facebook. How could something I had been so passionate about as reading have taken such a back seat in my life? But these past few years I’ve tried to take up reading more again – certainly to my younger kids (one of the few kiddie activities I can say without irony that I adore!), and also to demonstrate to my older kids what reading a book for pleasure actually looks like. (I don’t think they’ve noticed; it’s hard for them to tear their eyes away from the Xbox.) Is it too late for lazy types like me to cultivate a home where reading is woven into the fabric of our daily lives, and not something that’s done begrudgingly for school? Alas – I don’t know! But Tulsa is an exceptionally bookish town – not that the East Coast literati would believe that, but it’s true! So, to prove that, yes, indeed, there are Okies who think and read, I take a little mini-tour of some of Tulsa’s local bookstores.
First, I hit the Decopolis, located downtown at 5th and Boston. What an unexpected delight! We park easily on the street, and wander in to the Decopolis – which perhaps is most accurately described as an enchanted tour through your eccentric, bookwormy great uncle’s attic. The books are grouped loosely by themes – sci-fi, mysteries, current non-fiction – and each area is quirkily and delightfully appointed by owner/talented artist William Franklin. Fun little gifts, vintage toys and candies abound. The children’s book area is a true bucolic haven full of toys, puzzles and wonderful books. We spend quite a bit of time just hanging out (and find a delightful Mo Willems book we hadn’t seen before!). And the dinosaur area? Let’s hope Disney doesn’t hire William Franklin away from Tulsa! Decopolis offers local ice cream, vintage candy, and other treats. And they hold all kinds of fun events. This month, for example, there’s a Harry Potter painting party for adults on Friday, April 13, and a kids’ Harry Potter painting party Saturday the 14th. If you can’t inspire your children ages 6 months to 19 and oldert to find something to read here, something has gone very wrong!
And then there’s the brand spanking new, sleek and urbane – yet still warm, homey and inviting – Magic City Books. Magic City Books just opened in the Archer Building in December. Besides a bookstore, Magic City will be a homebase for BookSmart Tulsa events. Jeff Martin, who has for years hosted local literary “salons” through Booksmart Tulsa, has attracted some incredible authors, from Stephen King to Salman Rushdie to David Sedaris. Magic City Books has already begun hosting interesting Booksmart programs. In March, there was a private event with actor/writer/photographer Jason Lee, and another night titled “Turning Trump into Art,” among others. And, my friend Anna Rhodes, age 10, had a fabulous time at Oklahoma author Brad McClelland’s launch of his hotly anticipated young reader series, “Legends of a Lost Cause.” Upcoming in April are evenings with Sloane Crosley and Anita Shreve – both quite famous writers! You’ll find literary and mainstream fiction at Magic City, along with narrative nonfiction for adults. One of Magic City Books’ missions is supporting book clubs; their buyers favor books that are beautifully crafted and spark discussion. Plus, they consider self-published work by Tulsa area authors — if you’ve got a novel that’s lying around in a forgotten desk drawer, keep this in mind! This spring, Magic City Books will launch weekly storytimes for kids.
Finally there’s the delightful Tulsa Toy Depot at 101st and Sheridan. It’s locally owned and full of toys, but it also boasts a great children’s book section. Ryan McAdams, the owner, stocks the books in an unscientific but wholly delightful way: he keeps classics, great series (The Land of Stories, old school Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys, a darling series for babies called Indestructibles), books recommended by customers, and books that fill a need: perhaps, for example, your kid wants to become a vet. There will definitely be a selection for your future vet at Tulsa Toy Depot! Fair warning — the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory is right next door. It would be criminal if you didn’t get a few chocolate coins or a candy covered apple (or some Kahlua truffles for mama) while you’re there.
Tulsa Toy Depot
Well, moms, good luck! Fight the fight against these darn video games! I don’t know if I’m being overly dramatic, but I think the future of our nation depends on these kids burying their noses in a good book. No pressure!