Those who know me know that I cannot pass a store that has tables of books sitting out front of it. My husband totally understands; he will nod his head and point toward a coffee shop, where he'll patiently wait for me.
When our library holds their annual book sale in my city, I am there, waiting in line, anxious to get through the doors and swoop down upon tables of literary treasures. But it is the little used bookstores that grab my soul. Stacks and stacks of books, proud towers, calling my name. And I answer that call with my usual enthusiasm.
I love real books. I love their smell and feel. I love the fact that books are always waiting for me on my many bookshelves. I don't have to download them, or worry if I drop them. I don't have to experience anger when a book I've downloaded suddenly disappears. The only thing I like about e-readers is the fact that they light up when darkness surrounds me. But I don't own such a device (I find them very impersonal); reading a screen for hours at a time hurts my eyes. When I was working at Borders, I had a customer who used to buy stacks and stacks of books every month. He told me that he had to look at computer monitors every day, and that reading a real book was soothing, indeed.
Deborah Meyler, author of the new book, 'The Bookstore', has touched upon the love we all feel for real books. She worked in a bookstore for six years, so she understands the world of those who take great pride in selling the thing we know will never become extinct (some may think they will, but I, for one, do not).
Esme Garland, a young British woman, is studying art history in New York. She loves the city and her classes, but especially loves her boyfriend, Mitchell, an old-money, handsome, spoiled young man. Esme has everything going for her...until she learns she is pregnant. But when Mitchell dumps her before she has a chance to tell him of the pregnancy, she decides that she must find a job to make ends meet. When she discovers that her favorite used bookstore, The Owl, is hiring, she applies for the job. As she grows used to the ways of bookselling, she forms an unbreakable bond with the staff and the odd assortment of customers. But when Mitchell returns and wants her back, she must make a choice that could change everything.
While reading this story, I was so sure, almost certain it would become so simplistic; that it would have a tidy, typical ending. But Meyler tricked me. Her writing is lyrical and sublime; only someone who lived in New York could describe it with such love. And her characters are so spot-on, yet so surprising; from George, the owner of The Owl, surly and studious, yet so warmhearted. And Luke, the guitar-playing assistant, a loner with a conscience. There are so many others who are drawn so carefully that I wanted more of their backstories.
If you have worked in a bookstore; if you still work in a bookstore; if you have ever wanted to work in a bookstore, read 'The Bookstore'.
And keep all bookstores alive.
'The Bookstore' by Deborah Meyler, will be published on August 6, 2013, by Gallery Books, a division of Simon & Schuster.