Chapter 4: The Unexpected Bookshop

For those who know me (and for those who don’t).  I have a love for travel.  A giant wanderlust, a wanderer and a bit of a gypsy soul.  So when it comes to bookshops, I always do my best to find the truly amazing, sometimes off the beaten path, perhaps slightly unknown (to the untrained seeker), independently unique bookshops.  While I love ALL bookshops including the largely popular big box beauties, it’s the smaller indies I feel contain some sort of magic and wisdom.

Each one tends to have its own subtle, sometimes quirky, always perfect inimitable character.  They also seem to have just the right people working there.  And if you’re really lucky, it’ll be the owner who will be manning or WOmanning the shop.

If you have been to any of these (or if you haven’t) you may know what I’m talking about.  The instant smell of old/vintage books (admittedly a book sniffer), sometimes creaky floors, floor to ceiling shelves, infinite aisles and sometimes stacks upon stacks on the floor.  Perhaps there are different rooms and even multiple floors of exploring.  All filled with books and authors of all genres and ages.  It’s like being instantly transported into another world.  THIS is my happy place.  A place to spend hours when you might only have minutes, and there is never enough time to see it all.  EVER.


There are many of these places I have been to and certainly need to revisit as soon as I can.  That said, there are also those times when you come across the unexpected.  I recently happened across one of these times.  I somehow found a shop online and reached out via email as I noticed it stated they were open by appointment only.  I didn’t want them to go through the trouble of opening just for me to come browse so I inquired to find out if they ever have times open for public browsing.  I received a near immediate response stating it was no trouble at all and to come any time.  Well….I was about a half hour away and asked if it would be OK to come within the hour.  He stated that was just fine so I was on my way heading in the direction of my GPS.

When my GPS lead me to a beautifully lovely residential home I thought clearly I had the wrong address and immediately called.  The gentleman answered and I asked if I had the wrong address as I was at a residence.  He said, no, I was in the correct place which is why he usually takes appointment only visiting.  I mentioned to him that I was there and he kindly said he’d be at the door.

Now… being a reader and at times a thriller reader and also being a young(ish) woman, all possible scenarios (not with the best of endings) enter into my head.

  1. Am I actually going to enter this man’s house?
  2. How do I get myself into these situations?
  3. Crap!  Why is this the only time I don’t have my mace on me?!
  4. No one even knows I even came here.
  5. My mother would probably kill me herself, knowing the situation.
  6. Well… it is too late now to turn back, I’ve already told him I was here.
  7. I really hope he’s got some great books!

Thankfully the last of those statements turned out to be true.  He greets me at the door and I walk in, I apologize again as I didn’t realize it was his home.  He again said it was no problem at all.  As soon as I walked in the door to my immediate right he had a large living room with wall length bookshelves housing the most beautiful books.  He mentioned everything was for sale and offered me some coffee or water while I browse. (Still paranoid I politely declined).  I tend to get overwhelmed when there is so much to look at and this was overwhelming.  The collection was stunning and he mentioned a nearby warehouse with at least 60k more books and most of his business is done online so if I didn’t see something I was looking for, chances are he could get it for me.

I asked about a particular genre and he said he may have a certain book that was good.  Checked his computer and said the book was upstairs.  (I stayed downstairs of course) He brought it down for me and at that time I had to ask how much.  He said $7.  A reasonable price considering the book I just picked up was a bargain for $1500!!! (gulp)

He then showed me to another set of shelves that I started to browse, all the while chatting, we found out that we have the same Alma Mater (with about a 40 year difference) but was still fun to talk about.  As we were talking I happened to notice some treasures in totes he had on the floor.  I started to poke through them he mentioned everything in those totes was $1 a piece.  I thought, OK… NOW we’re talking!  There were SO many incredible books I was in heaven digging through the fun.

As my typical bookshop browsing goes, I walk in with no intention to buy and (this time) walk out with 7 new books, totaling $25.  My justification being 5 of them were $1 and a couple were purchased as gifts.  All in all a complete success, AND I live to tell the story and told him I will be visiting again.

I suppose certain sayings hold true.  Always expect the unexpected and always expect something wonderful will happen.


Chapter 3: If Books & Bookshelves Could Talk

Have you ever wondered what it would be like if bookshelves or even books could actually talk to each other, maybe even to us?!  (Besides the words written on their pages of course.)  What would they say?  How would their conversations go?  (Yes… this is what goes on in my mind.)  Think about it.  Think about all the knowledge, history, fun, laughter, tears, life and love live on those shelves.

Here is just a small snippet of how I see things going.

Parenting & Pregnancy is placed somewhat near Children’s.  Coincidence?  I think not.  One of the Pregnancy shelves sees all the disarray in the Childrens section, looks over at Romance and says “You know this is all your fault!”  They both look over at Young Adult and see what is to come in the future and hear, “Gosh, look at him, what a Potter head.  Oh yeah, check out Fangirl over there.”


I’d like to think this all goes on after the doors are shut on the bookshops after hours at night, but you know this probably isn’t true.  All this goes on while we are there browsing but in a voice or language that is inaudible to human ears.  You know Sci-fi loves this.  They’re over there gloating, “Ha! Silly humans, can’t even hear what we’re saying.  Clearly we’re in a completely different realm.”

Cooking is over having a chat with Health & Fitness, “You’ve got to try my new cheesecake recipe, it is to die for!”  “You know I can’t do that!  Summer is coming soon and I’ve just started this new diet.”  “Suit yourself, more for me.  Enjoy your kale!”

Then there’s Poetry…

“Upon my shelves lie some of the best.

We are far superior than all of the rest.”

Horror does not take kindly to this and viciously glances over.  “Careful Poetry… might want to keep one eye open when you’re sleeping.  MUHAHAHAHA.”

Fashion and Photography seem to be ignoring all of this, “A little to the left, a little more, PERFECT!  That’s it, that’s the shot!”  “Does this shelf make my spine look big?  How’s the lighting?  I want to make sure my title looks perfect.  Do you think I should be faced?”

History is chatting (debating) with Fiction, “If you only knew what we’ve actually lived through, you try, but you have no idea.”


Antiquarian chimes in, “Nice try History, but in our day we didn’t have fancy dust jackets or covers.”  They call over to Childrens, “Hey kids, come check this out.”  “Woooaaah, look at that marbling.”  (Antiquarian glances back at History)  “How’s THAT for history.”

True Crime is often very quiet, they’re just trying to be on their best behavior in hopes to get chosen and move on to their page turning parole.

Then there’s Travel, Travel is just in a constant state of excitement.  “Where are we going? Where do you want to go?  Pick me!  Pick me!  I’ll show you the best places, just you wait and see.  It’ll be amazing.”

I won’t even get started with the argument going on between Religion and Science.

And all the while Self-Improvement is always trying to keep the peace and positivity.  “You’ve got this!  We’ve all got this! Just be yourselves and they’re going to love you!  I promise.  Here, here are some steps to help you out if you need them.”


All this and many MANY more.  So next time you’re browsing your favorite bookshop, I hope you think of the fun conversations those shelves and books are having.


Chapter 2: Spirit Animal

I know many of you were probably expecting to see a picture of an animal attached to this post.  Sorry to disappoint, but for me, my spirit animal happens to be an author.  Helene Hanff to be exact.  There’s a bit of a backstory to this, so stay with me.

Helene Hanff is most well known for her book 84 Charing Cross Road.  People ask how I first heard about the book.  While I’d love to have some amazing story behind this part, I don’t.  But….  84 has been my favorite number since I was in high school (this is not a lie, ask my family and friends).  That being said, I may or may not have been looking one day to see if there were any books that had the number 84 in the title.  Why?  No idea.  Were there cocktails involved? Maybe.  Was I bored?  Probably.  But lo and behold the first book to show up in the results was 84 Charing Cross Road.

After reading the brief synopsis I immediately went out and bought the book.  Read it in one night.  Laughed and nearly cried throughout the entire thing.  The connection was instant.  I sat there thinking…. This is me.  We share similar writing style (please tell me if I’m wrong) as well as the same sense of humor, sarcasm, passion and love.  Before coming to my spirit animal conclusion I of course had to find other books she had written just to be sure.  I found and purchased The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street, Q’s Legacy, Letter from New York, and The Apple of My Eye (and I’m still on the hunt for Underfoot in Show Business).

Below are a few definitions I have found that explain what a spirit animal is.

“A representation of the traits and skills that you are supposed to learn or have.”

“A person or character that represents your inner personality.  Someone who behaves as though they are showing your feelings through their own actions.”

“An animal who chooses you or you choose it to get guidance and learning to help you thru life.”

That being said, after reading all her books, there was no doubt Helene was surely my spirit animal.  If she were alive today I would do everything in my power to meet her.  In her life she did reply to nearly all her fan mail so I’d like to think there would be a chance.  However I’d probably have to refrain from mentioning the spirit animal part.  Wouldn’t want to come across as crazy or stalker like.  Who knows though, maybe she’d appreciate it.

Just as the spirit animal definition states.  I’m certain Helene definitely chose me, (even if she doesn’t know it).  Although she probably does know and is somewhere saying “Of course I chose you, you nut!  I’m only on your shelf 9 times, soon to be 10 or more!”

Needless to say I can only hope to embody a small portion of her spirit and perhaps one day have great books published as well.  Until then, Helene has my heart and I hope I can entertain you just as much through these posts as she entertained me with her books.

Some call it a problem, I call it passion.  Yes, I have 5 different editions of the same book.  Yes, when I find others I will get those as well.  No, I don’t see this as a problem.