Several years ago I owned a bookstore. Words can’t describe how much I miss my bookstore. I miss shelving books and discovering an interesting title,whether it was a cookbook from the 1930s or a classic that I have never read. I miss sitting on a stool and losing myself in an unexpected treasure. I miss that feeling of knowing that you are exactly where you are supposed to be.
I loved when someone asked me what I did, and I said, I own a bookstore. Their faces lit up, and we immediately launched into a conversation about what we were reading, we compared titles that we had read, authors we loved, authors we didn’t. It didn’t matter if your genre of choice was romance, mystery, or Shakespeare. You were a booklover, and booklovers have a mutual bond.
A couple of years ago I took a seasonal Christmas job in a large bookstore chain. The seasonal Christmas job turned into 2 years. I loved it. I loved recommending titles to customers, sharing favourite authors. I loved when someone gushed over a book they loved, and equally loved the debate of a book they absolutely hated. What an incredible thing to read something that moves you so much that you get angry. I’ve had customers start talking about a book and just in the recounting of the story are moved to tears. There is a **rumour that a customer hated Caitlin Moran’s book How to Build a Girl so much that they bought a copy and tore it in half in front of the bookseller just to convey the deep loathing for the book. **In the interest of full disclosure I heard this story through a fellow bookseller and I have not researched the validity of the story.
I’ve met the most interesting people in the bookstore. I never knew her name but she came into the store once a week. She was dressed in pearls, hat, gloves, and every week she purchased a used copy Harlequin romance for 10 cents. Her husband waited in the car, with the vehicle idling at the curb. She didn’t spend long at the spinner rack browsing the books, and she always had her dime in her hand when she got to the counter. After several weeks she confessed to me that her husband didn’t like her reading. Then she explained that she read her bible every day, so he could keep his comments to himself. Feminism comes in all shapes and sizes, and sometimes she’s wearing pearls, and a pill box hat.