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: