The Lure of the Bookstore

Ever since I can remember I’ve loved books. I use to play library as a kid. I would have all of my stuffed animals set up for story time and then I would pretend that my bedroom walls were really bookshelves and I would walk around looking for the perfect book to read. Once I found the perfect one I would “pull” it from my wall, after which it would turn into a physical book – one that I had already preselected to read and of course my stuffed animals never knew the little magic trick. Or if they did they never let on that they knew – and with physical book in hand I would read to my little audience, even before I could read on my own.

At school, I was always the girl who was reading – I inhaled books. I definitely remember using the library as a kid, and being awed that I could check out so many books – it seemed, at the time, more books than I could ever want to check out. And my little library card got a great work out. But somewhere along the way, I started using the library less and less, and started using the bookstore more and more.

When I was kid, Beauty and the Beast was (and let’s be real, still is) my favourite Disney movie (hello that library?!). I loved Belle because I felt like her. She loved to read, and no one around her really did. And all she really wanted was what I wanted: “And for once it might be grand, to have someone, understand.” It’s hard for your head to be full of stories and for no one around you to have any in theirs.

Belle at the beginning of the movie sings a song as she walks to the village to visit the bookstore. The bookseller is the only one who gets her love of reading and readily lets her borrow books.

This scene was the scene that I acted out when I was kid. My parents would put the song on, or the movie on for me, and I would skip around our house with my little wicker basket and pretend that I was Belle going to the bookstore. When I “got there,” I had a hardcover book  that my parents used when they were kids and I put it in my basket and skip “home,” singing the song as I went.

Because of moments like that, and many many others where my parents would take me to bookstores and let me buy what I wanted, bookstores are my kryptonite.

The perfect gift that you can ever give me is to let me wander into a bookstore with no time limit on when I have to come out again. Some of my favourite afternoons are spent when my best friend/sister and I go to the bookstore and just wander. We can definitely spend at least an hour, though probably longer, browsing, shopping, and talking about books.

I started also using bookstores as a kind of therapy. Time stops for me when I enter a bookstore, and I relax. Walking through the shelves is wonderful because I meet old friends that I’ve either read before or have sitting on my own shelves back at home, and they introduce me to new friends. New adventures. New escapes. New ideas and thoughts and dreams.

The bookstore closest to me has just closed recently. It’s been there for a very long time, and in fact I use to work there a couple of years ago. (I might as well have asked them to just pay me in the books, the amount of books I bought while working there was ridiculous). There’s another one opening in the mall across the street, but it isn’t open yet.

I didn’t realize just how often I depended on that bookstore until it was closed. A couple of days ago I needed to get out of the house, and destress. I was halfway out of the house before I remembered that there isn’t a nice big bookstore to walk around in anymore. At least not until the new one opens. Instead of going to the bookstore I read instead, which was good, but not what I really wanted at that moment in time.

Bookstores are definitely one of my happy places. I can’t resist going into one, and when I travel I’m always popping into bookstores to check them out. And the funny thing is no matter where I am in the world, if I’m in a bookstore I relax and I feel like I’m home.




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