Anyone who knows me will no doubt be aware of my love for reading and books in general. Over the years, it has transpired and become increasingly clear to me that I am never truly as engaged and content as when I am cuddled in a cosy nook with my nose buried in a novel. (Alternatively, lying sprawled on a beach deck-chair or a towel, basking in the summer sun with a book in my hands will more than suffice, season permitting, of course!). It therefore, comes as no surprise that one of my favourite shops to visit is a book store.
One of the most striking features in such a shop is the silence.
Enter any book store, no matter the hustle and bustle of the surrounding city, and you are greeted by a delicious calm. Excited little bookworms like yourself, walk around in reverence towards those crisp, unblemished new books surrounding them. It is a stillness which invites you to browse as long as you may choose and to ultimately make a well-thought out final decision about the next book you purchase.
This brings me to my next point: It is a silence which allows you to decide what you want on your own. One which invites you to think to yourself exactly what tickles your fancy without the interference of others… (Unless of course you are accompanied by a devout reader, in which case the latter will know exactly how to respect the rules of silence and find alternate, subtler means of expressing their recommendations). Much like the act of reading itself, being in a book store can sometimes lead you to discover new little pieces of yourself, and it offers you the opportunity of satisfying those new interests straight away; with a simple stretch of your arm.
It is the only shop that allows you to exit wealthier than when you entered. No matter how many books you end up buying… you know at the bottom of your heart that they will give you something money cannot buy; an insight into a different time or culture perhaps, or an insight into a mental condition you would otherwise never had experience of … the list is endless. If you are a student like myself, I am sure you’ll agree that trying to limit your purchases becomes essential, so thinking hard about what you want may be crucial (i.e. Point No. 2), but ultimately you know your money is well spent, here.
Finally, I have spoken mostly about the pleasures of making your own choices and of the joy of making independent decisions. It is, however, essentially a place where you are never alone. Inspired as that may sound, I am not talking about physical company here, but about the countless characters waiting for you within the pages of the books looking down at you. They are waiting eagerly for you to revel in their story. You will find kindred spirits within these pages, and no matter how lonely you may be feeling, there will always be someone within the novel, someone who will show you that you are not alone.
And for those who would immediately jump up and insist that the characters are not real… I hasten to remind you that they were written by people like you and me… people who at some point met somebody or felt something that influenced the characters on the pages before you…
You may have noticed all or some of these aspects at some point or another, but we often tend to take them for granted and thus not appreciate them as much as we should. Hopefully, this article does justice to the qualities which make book stores so special (at least to me)… Happy Book-Hunting!