With my body exahusted by the flu, and my mind restless and tired of resting (even though it’s been only a day if even that) it’s no wonder, I guess, that my mind started to wander into books, owning books, reading books, bookstores, and my funny little dream of owning a bookish coffee shop, while reading a book about books (I love books about books and reading!).
So, as Thea in the book The Bookshop of Second Chances (by Jackie Fraser) wss getting her first impression of the used books store, Fortesque’s Books, in a little town in Scotland, my mind flew to all those quaint little bookstores in Dublin. Bookstores that were, like this store in the book, established in old brick or stone houses turned from family homes into stores. Little stores with curved staircases and an odd assortment of books hand-picked by the owner.
I felt a pang of sadness thinking that this is something we don’t have in Helsinki. What with the two centrally managed main chains of bookstores, the selection of every store basically the same, making up the majority of bookstores here. Of course there’s books in the bigger markets too (mass-market stuff) and your odds and ends in second-hand stores. Piles and piles of books dumped there by the heirs who don’t know what to do with all the books the previous generation collected.
Then I thought back to some really nice looking used bookstores I’ve seen here and there, some of which I even follow in Facebook, though I admit I have never set my foot in any of them. As much as I loved to scour the bookstores in Dublin, while walking back to the hotel from the conference center, with no worries or hurries, my normal life does not allow such. Or maybe it might, but I always seem to be in a hurry to go somewhere, get the most pressing matters taken care of, just to get back home.
So, not to self: visit AT LEAST that quaint looking antiquariat Sofia literally 93 meters from our office! Yes, I checked the distance with Google Maps.
No, I DON’T need more books, if that’s what you’re thinking now. Nope, I don’t. But with books it’s not about NEEDING as much as wanting. I DO need books to live, because as Mary Ann Schwalbe said, reading isn’t the opposite of doing, it’s the opposite of dying. I couldn’t imagine a life without books OR reading, and while books are essential to reading (in my opinion), reading is not essential to books.
What I mean is that reading books and collecting books are two separate hobbies, and while they often overlap, that’s not always the case. For me it is, though.
I want to be surrounded by books. Even if the books are such that I will never read them. Like the political history and law stuff in the parliament library. I would never ever have the desire something like that, for i find it immensely boring. But I did love it when I visited it (for work). Just to have all those books around me. All the POTENTIAL!
I want to touch books. Even if they’re books I wouldn’t read. I like the feel of books and the smell of books and the physicality of books. I like to feel the material of the cover under my fingers, the feel of the pages as I turn them or flip through them, the weight or the lightness of the book.
I want to smell and look at books. The musty smell of and old volume, rarely opened. The smell of ink still almost fresh on new books. The decorations, fonts, pictures, little symbols, all those things that make the book, beside the obvious, the story.
And I want to read books. I want to dive into a new world that’s not mine. I want to become the main character. I want to feel and experience things that are not my life. I want to submerge, to be carried away by the story. I want to learn about lives that are different than mine. I read mystery, fantasy, history, drama, romance, action, biographies and auto-biographies (I prefer those). And when it comes to reading, ebooks are just as well as paper books.
My Our library is my collection of books and it is ever expanding. There’s much that I have read, much that I will read, and quite a bit of books that I may never even open. I don’t buy books that don’t have the potential for me to read them some day, even though for some books the day may or may not ever come (I mean, come on! So many books, so little time in this short life!), but I have inherited quite a bit of books that I value even if they’re not something I might read.
Some day my dad will die. He has, probably, even more books than I do. I won’t be able to take all of them, nor will I probably want to. I doubt there’s much value in them, selling to some antiquariat might not even be possible. Still, I do understand the notion of Thea when she thinks she should sell at least some of the books she inherited, the ones she really does not like or know at all. “Because, think of the other books I could buy with the money.”
The sad thing is, that as genereations go on with books so readily available (no, digital books have NOT killed the physical book), we start drowning in books no one wants. I guess we might as well start burning the excess in fireplaces; at least they’d keep people warm. It pains me to say so, but it’s the truth.
Which is why I buy some books in paper, to have them in my library, to have my heart warm up at the sight of the books, while some books I only buy for Kindle. And before you can ask, no, I don’t do libraries. I love libraries, but borrowing books is not for me. Not even those I don’t specifically desire to keep. I flit and float through my TBR pile, selecting books according to my mood. I can’t be restricted to what I can get from libraries and when.
However, I do have this funny little dream. I would like to open a coffee shop with books, walls covered in books. A coffee shop where you’re not allowed to use any devices, a place where people would come to read. You couldn’t take books out, only read them in the shop. I know, even I wouldn’t frequent it. But it’s a dream, a little dream of a common living room / library for people to come and read. Homeless people would get their coffee and cinnamon roll for free.
So now you know what I’d do if I won the lottery. Oh, I’d need to buy the tickets first, so don’t hold your breath 😀