Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Bookstore Ambience

To say I visit quite a few bookstores a year is an understatement. Practically everywhere I travel I bring a list of all bookstores within a 25 mile radius with me. Still, no matter how many bookstores I hit in my lifetime I don't think any of them will hold that special place in my heart like my local Barnes and Noble does. I've been trying to put my finger on why that is considering this B&N is pretty much like any other one you would visit. Finally it hit me. It is the ambience of that particular store- the feeling it conjures when it enters my memory, the knowledge that once I walk through those doors the stress of the day will just fall away and I will be completely relaxed.

Thinking about it some more it is easy to understand why this particular store strikes a chord with me. It was my home away from home in middle school and high school. My best friend and I would beg our parents for rides so we could spend the day lounging on the cushy chairs sampling books and for some reason just being in the place was an inspiration for our most strange (and "brilliant") ideas. Now when I am particularly stressed I go there and wander the aisles for an hour or two, Starbucks in one hand and ever growing wishlist in the other. Just the act of strolling the aisles, thumbing through the books and eavesdropping on the roving bands of teenagers who try to act cool by making inane comments loud enough for those three aisles over to hear (was that me once?) is enough to make the coming day a little easier to handle.

Not many places do that for me. Maybe Argos book shop which has delightfully creaky floorboards and that wonderful old book smell but it is hard to find a place that has that certain je ne sais quoi.
Fast forward 15 years from that middle schooler who would walk ten miles in a snowstorm (uphill both ways of course) to spend a couple of hours there. Now I am married, have a child, and my dad, the most influential person in my life, has passed on recently. We are at a point in our lives where we are considering uprooting and moving to NY so I have been thinking about the things around here I will miss. The house I grew up in? Of course. Pere Marquette park with its gorgeous 2 mile stretch of Lake Michigan beachfront? Yeah. Friends and family? Maybe ;-) But somewhere on that list will be a place for the local nothing special to look at Barnes & Noble.
Anyone else have a place like that?

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