It’s no secret I’m a reader. I’ve been that way my whole life. My mom says I had my nose in a book before I could even read. It made sense that bookstores and libraries became like second homes to me. It also helped that my mom is also a reader.
For years, we went to the same Barnes and Noble store, until it closed a few years ago to make way for a Toys R Us. My mom becomes nauseous when she smells coffee, but, for books, she braved walking by the Starbucks at the entrance. Besides, the fiction section was further in and you couldn’t even smell the coffee that far in. The fountain outside was like an oasis for my younger siblings, who are not the readers my mom and I are. When they got bored, my mom and I could find them there with my dad when we were done.
As I got older and started saving my money, I was the one asking to go to the bookstore. I already knew how much most books were and I had already strategized how to get the most number of books for how much money I had saved. I usually had my eye on a few books, so it didn’t take me long to find what I wanted and count to make sure I could afford it. My mom was another story. She always took awhile to decide.
By the time I was getting ready to graduate from high school, my mom and I were going to the bookstore almost every week. One day we were checking out with the manager. He smiled when he saw us and said he remembered us from years ago. He remembered a little girl with her nose in a book following her mom around the store
Well, my mom did wander all over the store in her search for the perfect next book to read. And I did usually pick my books first. So I was often found tagging after my mom, already deep in one book.
It was a little creepy, but it also made me realize just how much I love books and how often my mom and I went to the bookstore. It was like a second home.
But what I really miss is wandering the aisles, looking to see what’s on the shelves, seeing what’s popular and finding single, solitary gems that the store will no longer carry because they are old titles. I read fantasy almost exclusively for years. I wandered the fantasy section over and over, back and forth, for a half hour or more. At some point, it was my mom and siblings asking if I was done yet.
But I wasn’t done until the perfect book had jumped out at me. I waited for it to whisper to me, to tell me it was ready to go home with me, to say it had seen me looking at it enough times and I was now obligated to give it a chance. Actually, that’s how I started reading Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series, Anne Bishop’s Black Jewels Trilogy, and Terry Goodkind’s Sword of Truth novels.
Today, I have a Kindle and stumble upon books. There is a Barnes and Noble just a short drive away. But it’s not easy stopping by with two kids. Instead of looking at books, I chase down a toddler who wants to run around and touch everything and try to keep my infant from grabbing anything with paper and shoving it in her mouth.
I miss bookstores, but I don’t wish my children on them. Yet. One day they will be old enough to read and behave around books. One day I hope they enjoy reading at least a little. One day I will take them and we’ll find out who is the last to pick a book.I
Until then, please don’t disappear, beloved bookstore.