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'Those Little out of the Way Bookshops' - a Memoir Snippet From a Very Short Story!


"Do you remember them?" She thought, one fine contemporary day - Small, independent book-shops - existing solely around the outer fringes of towns and cities. Sometimes, the owner, a peaceful sort, laid back and reading, always reading, might peer over the rims of their glasses - just as soon as you entered. Making an instant evaluation of the kind of customer you were and possibly reluctant to answer any of your blundering questions.

In some of them, you might've heard a pin drop! An oppressive air of learning sank down deep over any dust in the place - silently flaking along the tidy aisles of books, and then, a resolute stranger, standing somewhere, far, inside, embedded in the fabric and heavily engrossed in some book you don't recognize. You pass them with your head bowed because they were there first and longer than you.

So, you reach out and select a book from the shelf, any book, the first one to appeal in its vivacity. The scent of new print and fresh pages grips you immediately and maybe you want it, because after all, the title did make you pick it from the rest, so it must resonate in some way. Perhaps, you put it back as neatly as you can and the next one you choose will be a better fit selectively and this one you'll buy.

You love the feel of a brand new book in your hands and you turn-it-round, twice, feeling an instant intellectual bond. You vow on the spot to read it - cover to cover and an innate excitement wells you over when you feel wonder spring with such knowledge. Decision made! And so, gingerly, you pass the stranger again but this time on equal terms, and finally, you approach the sales assistant happy enough with your choice. The sales assistant smiles, somewhat, plucking a neat brown bag from under the counter and gently places your item into it. The cash register clinks.

Outside, once more, you realize the dry bookish air has made your palate thirst and perhaps, it's time to satisfy your call and go for a warm drink someplace - because life indeed felt simpler. Somehow, the day fulfilled your inquisitive needs you and you had more time on your hands then... The cute coffee shop, yes, that one on the corner sounds about right and there you'll enter, take a seat at the back and order a fresh steaming mug and a coffee slice, filled with cream and laced with a fine sugary brown coat.

You thumb over the first page and read the dedication, at least that much feels more gratifying than it did in the tighter aisles of the books shop. Cars buzz past the window with a humming-easiness about them, and, well tucked in there where you sit is warm and friendly. You feel invited. The door opens and closes with a ring of the coffee shop bell, and several times, voices bounce up from the tiles, mocking the words held reverently in your hands - and all is well in the world.

There's some unexplainable charm about the day you spent and finally, when you're all done, shopping gathered and you return home, you're tucked up warmly in bed that night, reading, perhaps the best book of all - ever written - you fall into a deeper sleep enamored by sensuous wonder. Having stirred your imagination during those hours of the day when you'd thrust yourself into the world of words for a while and you frequented the 'little out of the way bookshop.'


Michael Claffey (author) from Coolaney on February 24, 2019:

Thank you so much, John, thank you for your kind comments! Means a lot. I guess whether my message came across or not, I don't know. The memory to me is of such a time, less rushed, more leisurely... and still work was done! Less depression...

I think it's a nice reflection when ordinary days seemed less complicated. Like society today is lacking something - if that makes sense - it sticks in my thoughts!

I really appreciate your connection, your poetry book looks wonderful (hardback) and your poems are outstanding, I look forward to reading more my friend, all being well this week..

Thanks again.


John Hansen from Gondwana Land on February 24, 2019:

Hi Michael. I love those little out of the way bookshops. The ones that usually offer a choice of new or pre-loved books. They are often hidden away in parts of the town that have been now by-passed by most in preference for the large shopping centre complexes.

I often seek them out, and the owner often looks up surprised when he hears the door chime announcing the arrival of a customer, often few and far between.

I actually used to work in a library, but always had a dream of owning my own second-hand bookstore. That never eventuated, but I have such a huge collection of books at home that I have become like a lending library to friends and acquaintances.

I enjoyed this memoir, and could easily relate.

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