I’m asked periodically if I always wanted to own a [used] bookstore. Was it a life goal? With a pending high school reunion (40th) I find myself reflecting on how this came to be. Me, owning a used bookstore. Was this my journey? How did this happen? Of course, I’m also asking myself HOW could I be celebrating (?) my 40th high school reunion? When did I get ‘old’?
So looking back on my life the first time I really remember having an association with books is actually when we moved to Vermont. I was 8. Though I do remember quite vividly (even in my old age) when I learned to read. I was in first grade (Ballston Spa, NY) and was in the low reading group. Those who couldn’t read. Book of choice was, of course, DICK AND JANE. Suddenly the letters became words and then the words became sentences! I remember jumping up and yelling, “I can read!” and started reading out loud and wouldn’t stop until I had finished the book. I ran home shouting all the way. We lived three blocks from the school. I didn’t stop until I found my mother and then started reading to her. I also remember learning the word “island” and it’s correct pronunciation from my brother, #1. A cherished memory. And by the way, after learning to read, the next day I was placed in the top reading group. No holding me back!
When we moved to the Middlebury area (Weybridge) I would ride my bike to the Ilsley Public Library and enjoyed walking around the library shelving and would even sneak along Main Street (we actually weren’t allowed to go into the town) to the Vermont Book Shop to admire their books. Each summer Ilsley would host a reading contest with the winner of each age category receiving a special prize for reading the most books. And each year I would vow to be that winner! Only I never won. One year out of total disgust I asked the librarian why I wasn’t declared the winner because clearly I read the most. We had gummed stars representing the number of books we had devoured after our name. I had proof! I was told of course I couldn’t win because I didn’t live in Middlebury. The winner had to be from Middlebury. Heart broken! My first lesson in self-satisfaction. Though I couldn’t be named the winner I was clearly the winner and everyone knew that. I had the most stars!
I’ve always been an avid reader enjoying my books – when younger – in a tree, in a specially built fort, or even sitting on my parent’s front steps. Spread out in a chair. I’d read just about anything. Except for Nancy Drew. Hardy Boys were my hero.
I was an adult when I dared to venture into a used bookstore. It was magic for me. All the books! All the piles! The smells. It was amazing. A positive experience that stayed with me. Once inside I had to visit other stores to see what they offered. How were they set up? What treasure would I find? I’d like to think that my store is bringing to life all those memories and sharing those experiences.
Though I really didn’t think I’d own a used book store I am so happy I do. And I’m finding I’m not all that surprised. Books will never go out. There will always be readers of paper books. And those who appreciate and need to hold a used book. Like me. Like you.