There’s a strange wistfulness in used bookstores I just can’t resist nor put my finger on. The particular scent of ink, years and paper, that no one’s ever managed to tame into a bottle, it hits me soon as I walk in the door. I’ll stand quietly in a volume-stuffed corner, my eyes taking in author’s names; the story-tellers, secret-keepers, fact-finders, private-weepers… My vision deftly sweeps over title after title. Each bravely telling a thousand words with lonely few, trusting me to judge, with a glimpse, the entirety of what resides within two covers.
I’ve learned to open books so carefully, as each turn of page is like looking through cracks around the door into another’s soul. Mentally rummaging, I wonder where a book has been, whose dog-eared the pages, spilled coffee, fallen asleep with their nose in a chapter as I feel its weight, then its spine give way, cradled in my palms.
But more than anything, I consider the stories, the memories, the lies, the truth; things so long past, yet locked onto paper, in words for someone else to discover. The curiosity to know what someone else has felt, thought and known before just never tires, nor the mystery of what I’ll find pressed between end and beginning.
Briefly, I’ll peek over my glasses, you know and see the quirky, quiet types milling about silently. Fancy coffee or thermos in hand, all seriousness yet never completely put together, something small yet significant always askew. They’ll look stunned when randomly spoken to and there’s an unspoken, knowing glance every newcomer receives when entering an occupied aisle.
So this day, I glanced down at my own fancy coffee, matching accessories and slid my glasses back up my nose for the umpteenth time. It was then I smirked at the empty place where a large, silver button’s been missing on my plaid coat for months. I bought a book, denied a bag, took a nice deep breath of that “something” in the air and left with a new journey tucked gently under one arm.
It’s always the same, hunting for that new, old bit of time standing still on pages. The bookshop people don’t change much, just the faces and perhaps the particular whiff of coffee I’ll catch in passing. It’s rather nice, fitting in with the delightfully strange.
There’s a peculiar wonder in always finding a new way to fall in love with the same old thing all over again. Also, I seriously don’t seem to own the indifference to pass a used bookshop without stepping inside. I hope they never manage to bottle that smell we’ll wander in for. Some things are just better left to ink and years and paper.
#bookstores #books #mystery #delightfullystrange