bookshops

But 90 percent of us who buy books still get out of the house and go to the bookstore, to be among the books, yes, but also to be among other book buyers, the like-minded, even if we never say a word to them. — Lewis Buzbee, The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop

This quote reminds me of that camaraderie I felt when after hours of seeing no one along our hikes in North Yorkshire (which was also nice), my sister and I would suddenly come upon a couple or two pairs of people, socks tucked into their hiking boots, walking poles astride, breath coming in gasps from exertion, and we’d all nod to each other and smile, pushing wide our ruddy cheeks, for in that brief moment we knew we all felt the same appreciation for the daily constitutional among the misty moors and docile sheep. We were all out there because we shared a common passion, and it truly is wonderful to acknowledge and recognize that without having to say a word.

But this quote speaks of the book enthusiast. I’ve been thinking about my bookshop tearoom idea yet again and about what I want to include, or not, to make it what I look for myself (surely others feel the same?) and to make it different from the other bookstores around, a place people come to because it’s their favourite and there’s nowhere else they go that makes them feel the same cozy way.

As a bookshopper, what’s important to me is that I have space around me: not necessarily a large place but that I have personal browsing space, or at least that I feel comfortable shopping. I want to feel non-intrusive.

I want the people around me to be like-minded, if it’s not too much to ask, made possible by the particular focus and atmosphere the shop exclusively offers: friendly, welcoming, warm, cultured, enthusiastic, appreciative.

I want to be able to reach all the books. I love the look of a ladder, but how many people actually use it? Usually the books within arm’s reach are the ones most looked at. Anything higher, for me, is inconvenient.

I would like the music to be non-invasive, whether lively or subduing. I want things to be organized in a way that makes sense, though not so orderly and clean or minimal that it looks as though no one “lives” there, and to not be surrounded by tables loaded with kitschy do-dads piled willy-nilly but to find tasteful gifts (stationery, cards, and book and tea related things) available in attractive displays.

I wish not to be overwhelmed, especially if the place is smaller—yet, I want to see many books to choose from. I want the lighting to be warm but bright enough, and not too white. Basically, I want to feel as though I’m in a sacred place, a sort of haven more than a church, so not the kind of place in which you feel you cannot touch or breathe or talk; rather, the kind in which you can breathe quite deeply, sigh contentedly from happiness, hugging a book to your chest in the anticipation of making a purchase, perhaps while speaking appreciatively about it to another (it’s not going to be one of those places in which you feel you must whisper).

I do want to be able to combine my two favourite things, which are books and tea. So being able to buy a good cup of tea while book shopping is important to me. I am not the type to sit and read half a book in a shop (home is where I enjoy my books best, though I’ll bring them along with me everywhere), but if I can browse through the books I’ve picked out just to read a few passages here and there and make sure they’re what I want, and do this while sipping tea, I’d be quite happy.

I want my bookshop to be my favourite place to visit, so it has to be welcoming on a personal level, and to include small but meaningful touches that make people very happy about their purchases, such as brown paper-wrapped books, or nice bags, or receipts in little envelopes, or something. A pretty coupon for your next purchase, perhaps— things that make you feel excited about what you bought beyond what you actually bought. You know?

What do you want most from your bookshop?

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books

I can’t resist the book prices at Costco, even though the buying experience is nothing like what it will be at my bookshop. Still, no matter where I am, at Costco, Chapters, an independent bookshop here or in a village in North Yorkshire, the pleasure of purchasing a book is unparalleled.

Today I bought two books I’ve been long awaiting: Committed, by Elizabeth Gilbert (sort of sequel to my beloved Eat, Pray, Love, which I’m waiting to be given because I’ve given away about eight copies now and almost every one of them was my own first, so now it feels as though I can’t buy this book but have to receive it as a gift), and The Swan Thieves, by Elizabeth Kostova, author of one of my favourite books, The Historian. I can’t wait to read these! I might have to dive in before I finish Ferguson’s book (sorry, Will!).

I bought two others, as well. I couldn’t resist! One was Clara Callan, by Richard Wright, which I read years ago and enjoyed very much. At the very least, it won the Governor General’s Award and the Giller and the CBA Libris Awards Book of the Year. This edition is one of the nicest I’ve seen and it matches my editions of To Kill a Mockingbird and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. That kind of thing makes me quite happy!

And the fourth is called A School of Essential Ingredients, by Erica Bauermeister. I hadn’t heard of the book or the author before today but I love books that contain scrumptious descriptions of food and the storyline sounds intriguing and very character based. I enjoy a motley crew of sorts (one great example I can think of off-hand is the group of characters that meet on a rooftop in Nick Hornby’s A Long Way Down), and in a kitchen no less! So I’ll take a chance, as I often do. I am almost never disappointed.

Still have a hundred-dollar gift certificate to spend at Chapters, which I plan to do this weekend! I can’t wait!!

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reading

I’ve decided to start this blog as an attempt to become even more well-read and in preparation for when I have my own bookshop tearoom and can passionately share my love for certain stories with the customers who venture in. I also want to actually experience all the books on my shelves rather than simply collect them. And I hope this blog will act as a sort of catalogue, too, of what’s on my shelves.

Not least, I also hope to use this blog as a venue for my passion for sharing my love of books and great stories, and for you to express how you feel about what you read, too. I no longer work in a bookshop or a library, where I could discuss books all day long to people who actually cared. Instead, I copyedit as a freelance editor, and also work in a naturopathic clinic where the topic of the day is illness rather than books (although I have sneaked in a book chat or two with patients, especially kids, who come in bearing dogeared volumes to sit with while they wait).

Lastly, please don’t hide. If you’re reading this blog and want to say something, do! I want this to be an interactive site for everything books and for those who love books. Tell me your favourite place to shop and I’ll post it on the Everybody’s Favourites page. Send a picture of your personal collection, and I’ll add that to the Personal Collections page. Or simply comment whenever you have something to share. Reading is completely personal and subjective: there are no right or wrong opinions here.

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