Except for one weekend of the year. On that weekend, you are surrounded by others who share your passion, who revel in it, debate it, promote it, who really understand what it means to love chocolate. For medievalists, that's Kalamazoo.
The 47th International Congress of Medieval Studies, which 4000 medievalists attend annually on the campus of Western Michigan University, is about to wrap up. We have, as a group, listened to some truly insightful, occasionally brilliant, papers; participated in round-tables, made plans for further research and publication, and complained about the boxed wine. Most of all, we've shared our passion for all things medieval.
And then there are the books.
At Kalamazoo, an entire cafeteria is transformed for one weekend into a giant exhibit of books about the middle ages (with a few random volumes about the ancient or renaissance eras). Publishers from around the world bring their latest offerings, and...and this is the amazing part...some used bookstores show up as well. With discounted books. Steeply discounted books. All of which are about medieval studies. Thousands of books, as far as the eye can see, all about the middle ages!
(The difference, in case you're wondering, is that we are poorer and less likely to do prison time.)
Look how happy buying these books makes a medievalist! My friend Bob Yeager is ready to burst his tweed jacket with joy:
But woe! woe, I tell you, unto those who try to part us from our books!
The booksellers are our dear friends, feeding our passions at a reasonable discount. Here is Tom, of Scholar's Choice books, one of my very favorite stores:
And here are the jelly beans that Scholar's Choice brings every single year!
Of course, there are a few non-book items available for purchase as well:
Books! Music! Weapons! Add to that digitalized manuscripts and audio recordings and well, it's a wonder that we don't all die of an overdose of delight before we get our first glass of that boxed chablis.