there is a small used bookstore around the corner from my house. i have never been inside, but recently i was out taking a walk in the warm Easter sunshine, and happened to stroll by. it was closed, but i stopped to look in the window.
ever since college, i’ve been a used bookstore junkie, always dropping in to see if there are any good remainders, or anything i need to round out my collection. i don’t need one more book, but it doesn’t stop me looking. it’s always fascinating to see the titles they choose to put out, too…literary window dressing is a brand statement that shows what you might expect to find in this particular store. i found the selection at this shop fascinating:
- The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien (an old printing by a non-mainstream press)
- The Transgressors by Jim Thompson (an old pulp noir novel put out by Vintage)
- Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond
- Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
- The Book of Gold (an old book that looked to be the kind a 12-year-old would devour in a weekend, learning everything there is to know about the precious metal)
- A book on Vietnamese history and philosophy (title and author escape me)
you couldn’t get a much more eclectic selection. well, i suppose you could if you threw in a B-grade romance novel by Danielle Steele, a collection of children’s nursery rhymes, and something about quantum field theory. but you get the point. just seeing what was in the window made me want to go in the store to see what else they have on their shelves, and also see who runs the shop. i’ll have to go back another day.
the other thing that caught my eye were the two hand-written signs in the window, each penned in blue ink by a slightly erratic hand. the first said, "We may, or may not, be open on Easter. — Mgmt (Thank you for your patronage)" at the bottom of the hours sign was another curious statement: that you could engage with the owner and store by appointment, or by chance. hours are for the world of the rational, this said to me…why not be open to chance as well? who knows what might happen?
imagine how it unfolds, how the happenstance walk could lead to a visit to the store, which is open by chance. a book lies on the counter, cast aside by a disinterested reader, but at that moment, in that state of mind, it is perfect somehow for what you need, the gem that inspires dreams or fills the soul or brings deep reflection and satisfaction. and maybe this book creates a thought, then an action, then a transformation. all by chance. just because the owner of the store decided to open their doors that sunny day, hoping to maybe fulfill a soul or fire a dream.
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