other book stuff

Comfort and Joy

The evenings are dark now when we close up the bookshop, the streets lit with twinkling snowflakes mounted on the streetlamps already. C and I get home to darkness, and the first thing I do is plug in the white lights around my bookshelves. Instantly, the living room is transformed into a gezellig reading nook, and it’s all I can do to make myself cook supper (even though I love when the windows become fogged up now from the steam) and afterward come up to my office to work on the proofreading I have to get done for a publisher, instead of curling up with a good book and spicy tea.

I just read Boof‘s latest post on her site The Book Whisperer, and that’s only added to my wistfulness. Not only her post but her entire site always makes me feel…cozy. Maybe it has partly to do with the fact that she lives where I want to, in Yorkshire, England, but I don’t know; it’s the feel of her writing, the books she blogs about, herself, the design of her blog, too.

I’ve been thinking so much about Biblio, the bookshop tearoom in my head, and Boof’s post brought that on again. Lately I’ve been placing my shop there, in North Yorkshire. I’m feeling restless, which usually hits me more in the spring, but my extreme busyness is causing me to seek escape. Even though today was my first day as a full-time employee at Greenley’s Bookstore, and I am happy about that, I’m still dreaming of my own place, just the (magical) way I want it. I would rather work there than anywhere else. I would rather take tea there than anywhere else. I need it to be real.

Of course, to escape I read, since it’s the cheapest way of travelling. I recently bought A Novel Bookstore by Laurence Cossé, and want to bury my nose in it, live vicariously through the starting up of their shop. The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop by Lewis Buzbee is another booklover’s read I could get lost in. Last night, C and I finally gathered in the living room and I read The Historian aloud from where we’d left off months ago. It was so lovely, so atmospheric, so cosy. Reading aloud, I appreciate Kostova’s brilliant prose all the more.

As the weather grows colder, I grow increasingly desirous of mysig things: chocolate and chili, heavy blankets, sheepskin rugs, thick wool sweaters and socks, down pillows to sink into, and, of course, fat, sweet-smelling books—glorious, beautiful books. These things give me comfort and joy.

Now what I need is to find, or rather be able to make, the time to enjoy them fully. I’m feeling overwhelmed and discouraged today that I am so busy, but then I look down into our living room, and smile. I have this place, in my home, and I am grateful. It will be there when I’m ready.

My cozy blanket isn't there because it's being washed (it's full of dog hair!), and I am terrible at taking photos. I wish you could see this in the light I see it. It's much warmer and cozier in real life!


  1. Oh, what a lovely thing to say about me and my blog, Steph :)

    I cannot wait for the day you set up Biblio in North Yorkshire (do it, do it!) – I will be a permanet fixture in your shop, browsing, sipping tea; I may even bring a sleeping bag! ;)

    Your living room with all those books looks lovely! I will be posting some photos of where I read in my house soon too.

    1. Well, it’s exactly true. It IS how I feel about you and your blog, but it’s not just because of Yorkshire. I just feel sure we’d be friends in real life, and your blog is one of the first I found. Your posts have always made me feel as though either I’m reading a good book or I’m listening to a kindred spirit.

      And you and your sleeping bag are welcome. We can be just like Shakespeare & Co! I’ll have a room for you upstairs. :)

      I think I’ve seen some of your shelves, but really look forward to more photos!

    1. Thanks, BIP!

      It’s good. I look around and I think, WOW. I’m in an indie bookshop. I’m surrounded by books. This is my job. WOW!

      My coworkers tell me it will wear off. :)

  2. Go to Yorkshire. Do it!
    We are having an Indian summer here in Manitoba, with 14 degrees today. Winter seems so far off, and yet, being Manitoba, it could be here tomorrow. Your post makes me excited for snuggling up on the couch with a book and watching the snow fall.
    Your living room looks so inviting. The lighting is beautiful!

    1. Bee,

      I wish I could. Were I not married I would go. I would just find a way. My sister and her husband would help.

      But my hubby has no desire to move anywhere, least of all out of the country, and we have a dog as well who’s seven now. The timing just isn’t right. Not that I wish anything bad happens to them (God forbid!!!) but sometimes I do imagine being alone and moving to Yorkshire and living happily ever after. My sister has the same idea, though her shop would be second-hand. She’s taken the biz courses, done the research, has a biz plan, and I created the name (Tea Leaves, as in tea and pages) and wrote the marketing copy. She’s been scoping out different places in North Yorkshire but the timing isn’t right for her either just yet. Instead they bought a cottage in Pickering so once that mortgage gets down, and the kids don’t need anyone home, then I think she will start. Perhaps even before then. In the meantime, she’s working at Betty’s in Northallerton, where she’s enviably, smartly, got her tea, coffee, and chocolate Master’s.

      Anyway, she and I get along famously, and I could see running the book part while she did the tearoom!

      1. Well, you and your sister are following your dreams by the sounds of it – the location just doesn’t suit right now. Not to worry, it will happen. I can’t wait to visit Biblio and Tea Leaves. Right now, I have my hot tea and am about to settle in with Olive Kitteridge, which is awesome so far.

        When I get back to Melbourne I hope to start committing to things that will keep me home in Australia for a while. Being footloose and fancy free is fun, but not always so fulfilling. First thing on the list – a doggy! I can’t wait.

        1. Steph Author

          I’ve been meaning to read Olive, too, but have never picked it up. Glad you like it.

          Oh, a dog will totally keep you rooted! We haven’t gone anywhere, unless we can go with her, for 7 years!! :)

      2. Tea Leaves is a great name! Let me know when she finally sets it up – I plan to be her first customer! Also, I will be in a meeting in Northallerton in the next few weeks so if I get the chance (between that and my other meeting in York) I will pop into Betty’s. What’s your sisters name, Steph?

        1. Her name is Anne (or Anne-Marie) Schutt. That is so cool! Do say hi to her for me. She’ll think that’s totally awesome that we know each other!

          Enjoy Betty’s in Northallerton! I’ll bet their window display is awesome.

          And yes, when she sets it up, I’ll let you know. :)

  3. Em

    This looks so cosy and seeing this picture makes me think that I might as well put the studying away for today (it seems obvious that I am not being productive) and go to sit in front of the fire with a glass of red.


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