Wednesday, 6 June 2012
ONCE UPON A DREAM; Bookstore Browsing.
My favorite bookstore chain is Waterstones - I love the dark wooden bookcases lined back to back to form corridors of books, the browsing tables piled high with the newest releases, the cosy carpeting inviting one to sit in a corner and read the first pages of a possible purchase. As a new writer in my early 20's struggling to make the writing pay, I spent a short time working in a local branch and the thing which struck me was how much Waterstones employees all love books; indeed many of them are trying to get published in their own right. I was already published at the time and my work was on the shelves, but it made me realize that writers are naturally drawn to the book publishing world, even if only on the fringe, working in bookshops.
I browse in bookshops quite frequently, and I do enjoy digging through the piles of old books in used bookstores. By far the very best used bookstore I have ever been in was a converted church in Inverness, Scotland....piles and piles of antique books of all genres; the choir gallery above was a coffee shop and the checkout point was in the carved wooden pulpit! It was full of atmospheric charm and I can't wait to go back there in autumn. New books have a different charm; the feel of a brand new first edition in your hands that has never been read by anyone is a simple joy. The discovery of a new-to-you novelist whose work you instantly love; the pleasure of anticipating the next release by a favorite author and the excitement of an unexpected find is like the discovery of treasure!
Although I browse in bookshops a lot, I also make planned visits which I save my money for so I can enjoy a splurge! I make a reading list of books I want to buy and save a little extra cash for the unexpected reads which demand to be purchased. I see these splurges as necessary investments as I continue to expand my personal library of books and increase my research materials. For me it is one of the nicest ways to spend an afternoon; a lingering trip to the bookstore, coming out with carrier bags full of new books, then settling down at home with a cup of coffee, going through the book pile and deciding which book to read first.
Reading is one of the great pleasures in life and I am always aware at the back of my mind, that there was a time in the past when women were forbidden to read books at all! Now women are published authors, novelists, poets, diarists, journalists, scriptwriters and more. As an author my life is weighed up in words; words read and written; an exchange of ideas between author and reader, a silent conversation. Once my own daily word count as an author is accomplished, I am free to curl up with the work of a fellow writer...I will be spending this afternoon in the company of Philippa Gregory, with my cat Pyewackett curled beside me as I make my escape into the pages of a novel. I cannot think of a better way to drift and dream on a dull grey day. Happy Reading!