Thursday, June 30, 2011

An Old-fashioned Bookstore

I love e-books. I do. They are quick and easy and convenient - especially on vacation. But I also still love physical books. I can't tell you how many times I have loved a book so much that I've actually hugged it to my chest. There is nothing like the look and feel and smell of a book that you can hold in your hands. And, I love old-fashioned bookstores - those small, cozy places that are tucked away in secret spots in your city or town.

I grew up in Andover, Masschusetts. It's a beautiful New England town, perhaps best known for being the home of Phillips Academy, Andover. Or possibly, for being the hometown of Jay Leno. When I was a kid, almost every day after school, I'd stop into the Andover Bookstore. Some kids stopped at the candy store after school, but I went to the bookstore. (Okay, yes, sometimes I went to the candy store too!)

For me, the Andover Bookstore is the stuff of dreams. When you walk through the front door, you see, to your left, a wood-burning fireplace flanked by comfortable wing back chairs and a coffee table. In winter, the fire is lit and you are welcome to sit in those comfy chairs, warm yourself and look at the books. Immediately to your right is the old-fashioned, high, check-out counter built from some sturdy wood - oak, or perhaps mahogany. A set of stairs beyond the counter takes you up to a balconied area filled with books. Toward the back, stairs descend to what is now the children's section.

To the left, a few steps down lead to a sunken area, also filled with books. Built-in bookshelves line the walls and library-style shelves fill the room, creating aisles through which you can wander.

When I was a child, this sunken area housed the children's books. I loved stepping down those two or three stairs because I felt like I was entering a secret space filled with treasure. For me, it was a bit like Dorothy stepping out of her farmhouse and into the magical, colorful land of Oz. Sometimes I would touch the books, pick them up, admire the covers, read the inside flaps. But often I would just gaze at them. The folks behind the desk probably thought I was a bit coo-coo. But to me, these books and this bookstore represented true beauty.

My dream is to do a book reading and signing in this place that is so special to me. I am putting that thought out into the universe and will do what I can to make it come true. It would be like coming home to a place that I loved and where I felt my first true sense of belonging.

I am always delighted when I find small, local bookstores in places that I visit. Santa Fe, where I live now, is also lucky to have a couple of these: The Collected Works Bookstore and Garcia Street Books. These places, where the smells of old, polished wood and books mingle in tight and cozy quarters, are rare and precious treasures. 

Do you have a special favorite bookstore? I'd love to hear about it. You can check out the Andover Bookstore via this link:

http://www.andoverbookstore.com/news/txp/

15 comments:

  1. I liked the Borders here in the Salt Lake Valley because even tho they're a chain, they supported the local author, were so nice and welcoming, and they sold a lot of my books. They were always willing to host a signing, all you had to do was ask. The other day I drove by and felt so sad that they are gone.

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  2. Hicklebee's in San Jose. http://www.hicklebees.com/

    Mostly a children's bookstore, but their YA and adult section is wonderful. The store is crowded and cluttered and a place I could spend days getting lost in (even though it is tiny).

    Any book store with creaky wood floors makes my heart flutter...I love that sound.

    Thanks for the imagery! I love New England!

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  3. Yes, Karen G, I should clarify that I'm not against the big chains, I just love the cozy places more. And thanks Alienbody, I'll put that on my list of cool little places to check out in my travels.

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  4. There was a little children's bookstore in our town called, Once Upon a Huckleberry. It was delicious! Sadly it closed. I miss it. In general I love most bookstores, even the great big Chapter's we have in Canada. Chapter's and Starbucks - two of my favorite things. Both corporations do great things in the community(world) and help promote the love of reading.

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  5. I love Hodges Figgis on Dawson Street in Dublin. It almost feels like a library, with how quiet everyone is there. Wall after all of books watching you, waiting to see which one you'll pick. Great selection, and staff who'll advise you on books you might like to try, even if they don't have them in stock and have to either order them in or advise you to try somewhere else.

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  6. Paul, that sounds perfect, right down to the name! I can just picture it...

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  7. Hehe. Yeah, it's actually the oldest bookshop in Dublin, I think, though it's moved premises a few times.

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  8. I spent a lot of time at the library as a kid, so my hometown's library (and bookmobile!) hold a special spot in my heart. Kazoo Books in Kalamazoo, Michigan is great (they have a cat who roams around while you shop) and Anderson's Books near where I live now in Naperville, IL are my two favorite independents.

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  9. Thanks everyone, for the comments. It really doesn't matter, I guess, if the place is a chain, a library, or an indie book store - we are just drawn to these places where books are revered. I plan to check out all the ones you've mentioned.

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  10. there are a few book stores that I get lost in. My friend and I have literally stayed until closing time...hours and hours. It's my escape. Great post! I'm glad your book store is still around.
    Blessings, Joanne

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  11. I loooove books and bookstores, whenever I visit Germany my family would take me to one of the largest in Duesseldorf, 3 stories books plus antiques, the hours just pass. Somehow I have not yet made the transition to ebooks yet. I feel I need to hold the paper in my hands almost as if the author had written on this very paper, weird I know...

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  12. Thanks everyone - I've actually been in contact with the Andover Bookstore, and they will sell my book on consignment AND I will do a booksigning there, probably in early December!! I think this idea excites me as much as anything...

    Angelique, I know what you mean. E-books are great for on-vacation reading. If I really love a book though, and think it's a classic, I'd want to get a hard copy - so I could hug it!

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  13. That's fantastic, Melissa!

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  14. What a lovely sounding bookstore in MA. I wish they had more of those. Where I live, in SE Oklahoma there are no bookstores, like in none. I've always felt you can tell how good a town is by how many bookstores it has. I keep thinking about opening a used bookstore here, but think it would be doomed for failure. Maybe not though.

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  15. Linda, I am sad for a town with no bookstores!!!! The Andover one is just perfect (to my mind) and I'm pleased to say that I WILL be doing a signing there - probably early December. Yay!!

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