Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Where's your favourite place to go?

For me it's bookstores. I love bookstores. I could spend hours in a bookstore, perhaps the whole day. It could take me an afternoon just to peruse one aisle in my favourite genre.

(This is the Selexyz Bookstore in Maastricht, Holland, installed in an old Dominican church.)

(Borderlands Science Fiction Bookstore in San Francisco is home to this hairless Sphynx cat.)

On Thursday evenings when hubby goes off to play hockey, kiddo and I head out to the bookstore after dinner. We'll take turns. First we go to the children's section. We'll play with the dress up costumes for a while, then take a turn on the train set with Thomas before settling into a corner to read a few of the new releases. If it's close to Halloween, Christmas, or Easter, then that's even better because we'll find all of the themed books and read them out loud. Usually, before we're done we've gotten the attention of a few other kids as well and I have a circle of chubby, rapt little faces staring up at me. It's hard at that point to call a halt to storytime, and I'll read "just one more".

(Shakespeare & Co. Antiquarian Books, Paris. Probably the most photographed bookstore of the world.)

Life in a bookstore is like a wonderful melding of cultures. I liken it to walking through Kensington Market in Toronto and drinking in all of the colours and scents, the people talking and shopping. No matter your likes or dislikes, everyone can find something to interest them. I'll look around and always see five or six people in the magazine section, picking up everything from home reno mags to magazines about fashion, crafts, pets, photography and sports. Then there are those who are hanging out with the comics and Manga books (I loved the graphics in To Terra, by Keiko Takemiya). And whether you're looking for a treatise on Catholic dogma, a history of the Mennonite faith, or a copy of the Talmud...they could be sharing the same shelf space.

(A view from inside the bookstore Shakespeare & Co)

You might find popular fiction next to the biographies, or science fiction next to a grouping of inspirational self-motivators. People come to sit quietly, curled up in a window with something new, or they come with friends and laugh at the happenings of the day over coffee. Whatever it is, bookstores seem to have a life of their own that encompasses wonder and excitement, laughter, tears and learning.

(A very cramped bookstore in Calcutta, India.)

For kiddo and I, after we've spent some time with Dr. Seuss and Harold and the Purple Crayon, we head over to the sci-fi and horror sections. While I'm picking up this book and that one off the shelves to read the first pages, my amazing child will sit on the floor and every once in a while he'll show me a picture or laugh over a word that he sounded out all on his own. And then we'll do the same over in the romance aisle before heading back downstairs to pay for our treasures. Finally, when the sun has long gone down and it's way past bedtime, we'll run through the cafe to grab a cookie for the ride home. As I'm driving, I'll look in the rearview mirror to find him passed out in his seat with his new book clutched in those little hands and it makes my heart melt.


Wylie Kinson said...

A lovely ode to the most magical places on earth.
It still amazes me that some people could/would want to ban books, or worse, burn them!!
I'm sure there's a special place in hell for those people ;)

I love cake said...

Great post! My son is 14 now and we still go to the bookstore at least a couple times a month. It's our favorite activity to do together. I hope that never changes!

Hmm...maybe a trip to Borders is needed today. :o)

J.K. Coi said...

Hi Wylie! It's true. Bookstores really are magical places, just like books are things of magic that can take us to even more, even better places :)

J.K. Coi said...

Mel, that's wonderful. I hope that my son and I are still going out to do stuff together when he's 14.

Amy Ruttan said...

Very sweet and cute.

Shelley Munro said...

What an awesome post, JK. I love bookshops and they're my favorite place to visit. Hubby just doesn't get it and trying to spend time in a bookshop with him in tow is just plain torture.

J.K. Coi said...

Thanks Amy and Shelley. My husband doesn't quite get it either, Shelley. That's why it has ended up being something that kiddo and I do just the two of us.

Tempest Knight said...

Well, it depends... I love going to the bookstore because I'm a book-buying addict. The only one in the west coast is Borders, so I'm there every weekend. The people there know me and call me by my name. Feels like "Cheers." But without the funny drunk guys. Hahaha!

If I want to relax, I either go to my aunt's country house or my other aunt's beach house. It depends on alone I want to be.