While I often crave and seek out the solace of a bookstore, I rarely find it, particularly since generally only big-box bookstores are within a comfortable walkable radius when that urge overcomes me — I leave them feeling unsatisfied and angsty; so I have over the years learned to subdue the urge, and my intuition is now better honed to knowing the right time and place for achieving bookstore zen.
(The fact that the bookstores closest to home are predominantly French has been a blessing in disguise. One shop has a tiny section of English books, but I feel they've been selected with care and individualized to my literary taste (Am I the only anglophone in the neighbourhood? Have they been tracking my buying patterns? Or do all the anglophones in the neighbourhood actually share my preferences in reading material? If so, where are they?). Another shop has no English section per se; English books are shelved alongside French, alphabetical by author within genre. This store has more tables than shelves though, the stacks having no discernible order; it's a treasure hunt.)
I browsed bookshops this morning, successfully — I came home with heavy bags (well, mostly owing to War and Peace, which foolishly I carried with me to read on the metro), but with a lightness in my step and in my soul.
I went looking for one great underappreciated author in particular, but found works by others instead. I brought home Christopher Morley's Parnassus on Wheels (a 1955 edition in excellent condition with very funny "preliminary footnotage") and Lionel Shriver's We Need to Talk About Kevin (remaindered, cheap). (Also, Colson Whitehead's The Intuitionist, which appeals to my left brain.) Also found: Rebecca West's The Thinking Reed, not purchased, but of which I read the first chapter in-store; it leaves me with a niggling sensation — I must return for it.
(I am loving great underappreciated authors. I plan to update the list to include all the suggestions left in the comments. Handy sidebar link coming soon!)
Sighted, on some book, the title of which I've conveniently forgotten, a blurb from Neil Gaiman stating that the author's "command of language borders on scary." Maybe I paraphrase a little, just a little, but really, Gaiman's command of language borders on scary.