Friday, February 12, 2016

Bookstore reflections

My recent reading has turned up a number of quotable lines about the nature of bookstores, so today I would like to quote them. Most come from My Bookstore, Ronald Rice's excellent collection of essays by American writers about favorite bookstores, but a couple were found in The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap by Wendy Welch. Those attributed to her are from her book, the others from Rice's.

"Here was a place I belonged." -- Richard Russo

"The only place as comforting as a friendly bookstore is probably your grandmother's kitchen." -- Isabel Allende

"If you love words, it's the place to be." -- Rick Atkinson

"The place has the quietness, the friendliness, the smell, and the tangibility that a bookstore ought to have." -- Wendell Berry

"A bookstore is a physical place, of course, But it can also be a state of mind." -- Kate Christensen

"It's a kind of sanctuary." -- Carmela Ciuraru

"The main thing was that the instant you walked inside the door you knew that this was a place where books were honored." -- Jon Clinch

"Many people, myself included, think of the store as a second home." -- Angela Davis-Gardner

"Every time I enter a bookshop, I still fill the same way, filled with a sense of possibility. It's like going to a dance when you're 21." -- Pete Hamill

"It is my de facto office, my classroom, my place of worship, my site for dates, and (not unrelatedly) my ideal location for getting lost." -- Pico Iyler

"It's my personal idea of heaven." -- Ann Patchett

"This bookstore reminds me of the bar in Cheers -- we all want to be where somebody knows your name. That's what makes it work -- it's a place where people know your name." -- Lee Smith

"Sometimes you really do want to go where everybody knows your name. And sometimes you want to be where people know you only as 'that short, pleasant woman who reads J.A. Jance.' Either way you slice it, a used book store should be able to serve it up, the place where people got to define themselves for themselves." -- Wendy Welch

"Human beings breathe slower in a bookstore." -- Wendy Welch                                                              
Most of these lines get an amen from me. Do you notice how many of them contain the word place? Here's another quotation from My Bookstore. Emily St. John Mandel asks, "when was the last time you walked into Amazon and got into a conversation with a bookseller about this new book that you probably hadn't heard of before but that the bookseller thought you might really like?" You may get cheaper books by ordering them via the web or catalogs, but you can't get the kinds of things mentioned by these writers. And these are priceless.

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