“Ahhh, I miss the little bookstores….”

Elizabeth Bluemle - August 17, 2012

I have a friend, Guus, who grew up in the Netherlands. We were chatting online about books recently, and he began reminiscing about a favorite bookstore haunt from his childhood. I loved what he said so much I had to share it with you ShelfTalker readers.
“Ahh,” Guus wrote, “I miss the little bookstores from when I was young. There used to be a little secondhand bookstore in the town where I grew up.  I met the owner – a lady of roughly 30 years old – on a day I snuck out of school and spent the next six hours reading a rather old book holding the – actual – versions of some fairy tales. Bloody stuff!
“A bookstore with noneuclidian shelves, little nooks with reading chairs…. The owner and I made our acquaintance when I came to realise she’d simply put down a li’l plate of gingersnaps and a glass of milk down by me and went back to her desk. -That- made me decide to go and have a talk with her.
“Heh. She let a ten year old boy have cookies and milk over a book worth a couple of K. I was impressed. and HORRIFIED when I found out. But [she said] – ‘Books are written to be loved. And you were so into that one.’ She became one of my best friends. And I suspect she’s single-handedly responsible for my love of reading.”
I’ve heard these kinds of stories so often over the years. I think often we booksellers have no idea how strongly the very existence of our stores, the simple act of providing a welcoming place for children and books, might affect a young person. Anecdotes like Guus’s are so heartening (and they make me wish we kept gingersnaps and milk on hand!). Before I opened a bookstore, I used to dream of having a home in the country, and a bright library of books available to the neighborhood families, with pitchers of lemonade and window seats for curling up in. The Flying Pig isn’t such a far cry from that dream, and I hope the kids in all of our nearby neighborhoods feel cozy and at home at our store, like Guus did in his.
Did you have a special little bookstore in your childhood? If so, what was your favorite memory of being there?

3 thoughts on ““Ahhh, I miss the little bookstores….”

  1. Kathy

    Actually, I have a favorite memory of a library – it was in an old church and the windows had wide sills that could be (and were!) used as seats. I remember sitting there and reading as a small child. It was magical! I can just imagine a bookstore like you describe – what a wonderful place to make memories!

  2. Pamela Stone

    Did you know that my favorite reading place was a window seat in my bedroom? In addition to Nancy Drew and Walter Farley books, my mother stashed several of her own books. My first adult book was Marjorie Morningstar. Then there was Sayonara, Peyton Place (which she did not know I read), as well as several historical romances and mysteries. Most her favorites. And how old was I? Probably 12 or 13 years old. When my sixth grade teacher caught me reading one of these books in class, she did not approve. But I was so proud!

  3. Sharon

    There was a used bookstore placed in connected trailers that my family visited every year on our annual trip to North Carolina. It wasn’t the kind of store where you could pull up a chair and start reading; there simply wasn’t room. But it was a place that I loved. I loved digging through piles and finding books that perked my interest. It’s been probably twelve years or so since I’ve been there, and I wonder if it survived. I don’t even remember the name (Book Nook? Maybe?), but I spent many a happy afternoon there, and I hope it’s still alive and kicking.


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