On Books and Bookstores

There is something in me that stirs when I step into a bookstore, a sort of longing I suppose. Sometimes I wish I could live there, spending all my days lost in the pages of the books. In a sense, books have been lifelong friends. They have been involved with every major phase of my life. So when I’m in a bookstore it’s as though I’m among family. Maybe this makes me a little strange? Eh, I can live with that.

Yesterday, Natsumi and I spent an hour or so in Borders. She and I share this same love. I made my way to the vegetarian/vegan section and she went of to the teenie-bopper area. You know, with the Twilight books and all. See? This is what I mean. Right now, my choice to change my lifestyle is an important phase of life for me so where do I find that comfort, that support, that “helping hand?” I find it in the pages written by those who have already made their way far along the path on which I have just begun.  In the same way, Natsumi can find her comfort in books and novels in which the authors have given voice to the tween perspective.

I also see the bookstore as a sort of gathering place. During that said time in Borders, while looking through all the different vegan cook books, painfully trying to decide which one to try next, I met Wendy. What started as a simple question, “are you vegan?” turned into a whole conversation between me and Wendy and led to me gaining a new vegan buddy and a cheap vegan resource guide/cookbook (she found it on her way out and came back to show me – it was only $6. Problem solved, I bought that). To me, this was just another case of community found in the bookstore. I sit in the vegetarian book section, and lo! I meet another vegetarian.

Honestly, I don’t understand why more people don’t read real, physical books. The computer and internet are wonderful tools, but nothing can replace curling up with a real, thumb-through-the-pages book. I think of all the nights when my dad used to read me bedtime stories before tucking me in. I just don’t think it would have been the same if he was sitting there with a laptop or a Kindle in his hand. I think of all the hours I spent with my mom in the bookstore, looking at different books, reading excerpts to each other. I doubt that us sitting next to each other, reading from separate computer screens would have had the same impact on me.

My point, if I actually have one, is this:  I hope as a society we never lose real books and bookstores. The idea of everyone downloading “e-books” from an online store in the convenience of their own home saddens, and somewhat scares, me. Where’s the community in that? The internet is great for bringing people long distances away closer together, but it tends to isolate us from the world that is around us. This is just another example, I guess.

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