Tag Archives: travel books

Nomad Books

IMG_2837Nomad Books, 781 Fulham Road, London, SW6 5HA

Like many of you, I am, for all intents and purposes, a ‘grown up.’ I live in a flat, where I pay rent and bills and spend time between coming home from work and going back again. I have an alarm set for 7:20 every weekday morning. I leave the house at around 8:20 and take the Victoria line to work. I work until 6pm, when I walk back to the station and take the tube home. I worry about horrible colleagues, unmet targets and the damp in the corner of the bedroom. In other words, I have a routine. Most days, I do pretty much exactly the same thing. But some days, I do something different.

It seems to me there are two modes of everyday living. You can live in your little bubble or box, going back and forth between work and home and doing more or less the same thing. Alternatively, you can do something new every day, live a life of individual days, each one unique and exciting and new and full of adventure. Sadly, the world we live in makes it all too apparent that we are supposed to opt for the former – that this is a sign of success and normality. Sanity, even. So, most of us spend about 90% of our time in the box. The internet makes it easier, of course, by making our lives more uniform. It’s a shame, given the potential of the worldwide web to help us reach outwards, but sadly we never use it that way. The internet could take us to Maui, Malawi or Mexico, or let us see the Andes, the Aztecs or the Arctic. But the reality is that the vast majority of people, when they open Google Earth, look first for their own house. Yes, the internet, despite giving us delusions of grandeur, actually just seals the lids of our boxes ever more firmly. This isn’t the end of the world; very few of us have the energy or the funds required for a purely nomadic lifestyle.

Nonetheless, it’s in that 10% that most of us create our most treasured memories, so it’s that 10% I want to talk about. We all find ways of bringing that lifestyle into our daily lives and for me the main ones are reading, travel and buying books. Going to Nomad Books in Fulham is one little thing I can do to get a bit of adventure in my life. It is the perfect place for reading (and planning what I’ll read next), travelling (I take a long trip on the District line to get to their travel books) and buying beautiful books.

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Nomad Books has been on Fulham Road for over 20 years. It’s a lovely little building on the corner of a lovely little street. It is particularly popular for its large selection of travel books and travel guides, which are housed in a room towards the back of the shop, along withIMG_2830 the art, architecture, design and photography books. There is a small couch and table here, away from other browsers and staff. In some bookshops, sitting areas like this look a bit forced, but at Nomad Books, I really did feel that I could sit down with a book, get comfortable and read undisturbed for the rest of the afternoon. I might even plan my next trip away from the box while sitting in that comfortable seat and looking at photos of Peru.

Nomad Books also has a good classic fiction section and a very thorough display IMG_2833of contemporary fiction and non-fiction, prominently on display at the front of the shop. Bays full of recent publications, both the bestsellers and the more obscure, are dotted with insightful staff recommendations, so you’ll never be short of good suggestions if you’re overwhelmed by the selection. The fiction selection is by no means extensive; it’s eclectic. This is not Amazon and you will not be able to find anything you want. Embrace that and find something you weren’t looking for. Finding what you’re looking for belongs to the 90% realm. Finding something exotic and tempting and buying it on a whim belongs to the 10%. This eclectic fiction selection, such that it is, covers the walls on the side of the shop that is also a coffee, where you can buy tea and coffee and tasty treats and sit for as long as you like and admire the books or get a head start on the one you’ve just purchased.

At the back of the shop are the children’s books, with more comfortable chairs, IMG_2836couches and tables in amongst them. It’s perfect for an impromptu story time if you can’t make it to one of the shop’s weekly story circles. When I went in last week, during the schools’ Easter holidays, two mums with 4 children between them in tow where chatting away happily in the back of the shop about what books they’d buy. Nomad Books feels like it’s part of the community. These families passing through on their day off were not the only ones giving me that impression; when I walked in a very elegant older lady was sitting in the café reading. About fifteen minutes later, an elegant little old man walked in, gallantly took his hat off and sat down across from her. Eavesdropping told me that they both live in the area and often bump into each other here.

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I’ve spent a lot of money on books lately, but it was my day off, I was on the other side of the city and I was on an adventure, so I bought Kazuo Ishiguro’s new novel The Buried Giant. It is still in a beautiful hardcover edition that won’t be around forever so if you’re thinking of buying it, do it now. It cost £20 but if the first 100 pages are anythingIMG_2831 to go by, it was more than worth it. On the back of this lovely hardcover is written a quotation from the first chapter, written in large gold writing, which captures the feeling I got in the shop. It was the feeling that there are infinite worlds out there, in the world and in books, waiting to be explored. It was the feeling that life is too short to spend only 10% of your time on adventures. It’s the feeling we get at airports and train stations at the beginning of a journey. It’s the feeling readers get when they hold a heavy hardcover in their hands, or turn the brittle first page of a favourite old paper back or read a great opening line:

‘There’s a journey we must go on, and no more delay…’

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South Kensington Books

southkenSouth Kensington Books, 22 Thurloe Street, London, SW7 2LT

The other day I had to go to Knightsbridge and it was awful.  The crowds of tourists milling in and out of Harrod’s, the rows upon rows of astronomically expensive designer shops and the worship of consumerism and materialism for its own sake sicken me.  Did you know that Harrod’s has a bookshop?  It’s filled with screaming children, smells overwhelmingly of perfume and has Celebrations, the book about nothing by Pippa Middleton, on display. After about five minutes in there, I decided to take the long way home and go via South Kensington for a little bit of sanity.

The streets of South Ken are pristine, elegant and sweet and there are quaint little cobbled roads with small cafes and boutiques and little families who walk all in a line behind mother duck on their way to the Museums.  And right outside the tube, in Thurloe Street, is a beautiful little bookshop I can never resist popping into every time I’m in the area.  (For the record, on the rare occasion I’m in the area, it’s almost always because I’ve been at the V&A, which you’ll be pleased to know has an absolutely stunning library.)

After the madness I had to walk through to get to it, I don’t think I can put in words how much of a relief it was to come to this quiet little street and a bookshop that has real class.  If the future of book-buying is a loud, chaotic, overly-perfumed room sandwiched between the Luxury Gifts section and a toy shop, I want no part in it.  Give me South Kensington Books any day.  I would gladly forsake the company of the rest of human kind and even pay a bit more to buy my books here, where the money spent is so much less important than the experience of book-hunting.

But this little bookshop warrants so much more than a comparison with Harrod’s, so I’ll stop my griping now and give it the attention it doesn’t demand, but nonetheless deserves.

South Kensington Books blends perfectly into its surroundings; it’s elegant, understated, quiet and absolutely lovely. Its front window display is one of the most inviting I’ve ever seen with big beautiful cookbooks, children’s books, history books, novels, maps and postcards.  Above the books you can just about glimpse a preview of what’s inside; dim lights, wooden shelves and rows and rows of new friends to meet.  I blame this window for drawing me in one too many times and taking altogether too much money from me over the years.

IMG_1756The first room is full of your usual bookshop fare.  On one wall is its very well-stocked fiction section, where you’ll find most of the classics, contemporary fiction, the current bestsellers and all the award-winners.  All the books are brand new and ever so slightly cheaper than retail price.  For example, the retail price on Within a Budding Grove, which I bought and am now dying to read, was £9.99, but I got it for £7.99.  So, no, not a competitor with Amazon on price, I’m afraid, but they certainly undercut Waterstone’s.  There’s also a fantastic selection of beautiful art books, which I’m afraid I don’t have the intellect to appreciate nearly as much as they deserve, but still love to admire. The travel book section is wonderful (if a bit Lonely Planet-heavy, but what can you do?) and I nearly bought myself a guide book for my upcoming trip to Copenhagen, but decided I’d rather wander the streets without guidance or expectations this time around.  Don’t worry, if there’s a bookshop, I will gladly offer up the Matilda Project’s first Danish entry.

(Look at what’s just happened! Once again, a bookshop in London has had the power to transport me somewhere completely different, putting meddlesome ideas in my head.)

But back to South Kensington.

In the back room is the bookshop’s really amazing selection of history books.  This is my new go-to bookshop when looking for presents for my dad.  The man is obsessed with history.  For Christmas I got him Jerusalem: A Biography by Simon Sebag Montefiore.  It’s probably 700 pages but he was so excited and I IMG_1754know the enormous tomes on display here would make him very happy. British and American history and politics are very well-represented, but the selection is not quite as Western-biased as a lot of bookshops I’ve been in; the rest of the world gets its say too.  The back room also has a small selection of children’s books and a wall full of beautiful books of poetry.  They had the selected poems of Keats, Byron, Blake and Wordsworth in the lovely hardcover collections with beautiful covers that Faber & Faber released recently, where a contemporary poet selects the poems and writes the introduction.  Have you seen them yet? They’re gorgeous.  I almost bought Memorial by Alice Oswald, which is a brilliant collection of poems that’s sort of a re-writing of the Iliad.  She explains it much more eloquently than that though. I wanted it, but two books in one day seemed a bit decadent.

Oh, and the entire back wall was covered in cookbooks of all shapes and sizes, ranging from your conventional recipe book to a guide to what flavours work well together.

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The last time I was in here, they also had a whole shelf of Folio Society editions of some classic and some contemporary novels.  If you’re not familiar with them, the Folio Society produce beautiful hardcover copies of books, working on the ethos that ‘Some books are worth treasuring.’  Their books are the kind that you use to build your perfect library, and then pass on to your children. I went in once and saw a really wonderful Folio Society edition of the Complete Works of Arthur Conan Doyle and from then on have been pretty much sold.  Another time, I found their copy of Disgrace by J.M. Coetzee which had amazing colour illustrations by Andrew Gibson.

On my most recent visit, though, they were conspicuously missing. I asked the bookseller what had happened to them and he’d told me that since the last time I’d been in there, maybe a month earlier, the majority of them had been sold.  This is a good thing, I suppose, since it means the bookshop must be doing all right and that people still care about having books that are more than just a file and still feel the need to treasure them, share them and pass them on.  I’m not going to pretend I didn’t miss admiring them though.

A quick note on the Folio Society.  They earned my eternal love and devotion the day I first saw this advert on the tube:

‘Rekindle your love of Beautiful Books’ is obviously a not-so-subtle jab at Amazon and their Kindle and I think it’s brilliant.  Wake up, humans, your Kindles aren’t special!

And here we go, time for another one of Emily’s rants.  I get a lot of comments on this blog saying things like ‘I have and Kindle and I love it, but I still love paper books!’ I have a friend who owns one and says as useful as it is, she’ll never stop buying real books.  Well I’ve got news for you, guys.  Sorry if it offends, but you can’t have both.

If you want to own a Kindle, knowing that it threatens to put bookshops and publishers out of business and stifle high-quality creative output by letting it get lost in a sea of self-publishing and digital ‘files’, you are not allowed to complain.

You’re not allowed to moan when your favourite newspaper stops producing print copies.  You’re not allowed to grieve when your local independent goes out of business.  Because you know what?  It will be your fault.  If you stop going to libraries and bookshops and buying from small publishers and supporting authors at events in real life, you’re not allowed to complain when those things disappear.  If you buy more ebooks than print books, whether you like it or not, you’ll play a part in putting amazing places like South Kensington Books out of business.

When HMV went into administration, I listened to my friends complain about how there would be nowhere on the high street to browse, to fondle physical copies of the music and film they love, to talk to humans about them.  Finally, I got fed up and asked them how many of them had actually gone to HMV in the last year and was met with silence. If you say you love something but don’t support it, what kind of love is that?  It’s like not voting and then complaining when the candidate you wanted doesn’t win.

So listen to the Folio Society and take the lead from this gorgeous bookshop.  If you love books, please, I beg of you, support the independents who really care.  Support the man behind the till at the South Kensington bookshop who spent twenty minutes trying to locate the book a woman wanted, working from the single clue ‘They were talking about it on Radio 4 yesterday.’  Support my wonderful friend and former bookshop co-worker Wendy, whom I  once watched patiently talk to a family for 30 minutes trying to find a perfect book for each of their three children.  And support the values that made my dad come home from work every night just to turn the pages with his five-year-old, trace the words and letters with his finger and tuck her into bed before going back to work, just because he knew that those moments would be what mattered.

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Stanfords

IMG_1646Stanfords, 12-14 Long Acre, London, WC2E 9LP

Going to Covent Garden a week before Christmas is a really, really bad idea.  Yes, it looks lovely.  Everything is atwinkle with the light of a million Rudolph’s noses and the festive cheer is contagious.  But unless you’re someone who loves crowds (I’m not), you’ll feel like a total Scrooge for wanting to swiftly and silently murder the throng of jolly Yuletide shoppers.

No one wants to feel Scrooge-y.

The only reason to brave such an excursion is if you are on the prowl for a bookshop.  Today, I battled through with my elbows out to get to Stanfords on Long Acre, the famous maps and travel bookshop.

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The shop is full of maps!  Maps as big as your wall and maps that fit in your pocket; maps of the whole world and maps of individual neighbourhoods.  There are travel guides, travel fiction and travel accessories.

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Stanfords is bigger and more commercial than most of my usual haunts, but variety is always a good thing and Stanfords really is a lovely place.  I don’t know if it was just because it’s so close to Christmas, or if it’s the fact that everyone in the shop is dreaming about their next adventure, but the atmosphere was positively buzzing with excitement.

But when you think about it, of course it is!  Even those who aren’t afflicted with IMG_1649a travel addiction know that the thought of vacating your everyday life for a little while and going somewhere exciting and different and fundamentally new is intoxicating.  Looking at maps, spinning globes and reading about museums, galleries and independent cafes in other cities is a joy.  In Stanfords, I think what people are really buying are the possibilities.  They’re buying the knowledge that Spain and Thailand and South Africa and Brazil are out there, somewhere, waiting for them. They’re imagining that those places can be explored by strolls through piazzas, wanders through independent librerías and restaurants with ocean views or by treks through the forests, bike rides along the coast, hikes up the mountains.  Stanfords has maps and books for all these possibilities, telling you how to cycle through France, jog in New York, hike in Tibet or bungee-jump in Vietnam.

IMG_1650Stanfords has everything you need for a trip to, say, Moscow.  Maps of the city and all its neighbourhoods, a huge selection of travel guides, guides to the surrounding area, books about contemporary and historical Russian politics, histories of the Czars and the Russian Revolution and books written by Russian writers and set in Russia.  Because who wants to go to Moscow without having read Tolstoy?

And the fact that Stanfords realises this is what I love most about this bookshop.  Books are not only seen as accessories to or facilitators of travel, but also as travelling companions.  They are worth bringing along not just to consult them about whether there’s a Starbucks in Lima, but also to complement your experience of the world’s invisible cities by reading the stories of their famous voices and their marginalised ones and by understanding the vast differences and, more importantly, the similarities between them.

Personally, I’ve always tended to separate reading from travelling, though I don’t know why I should!  Although one of my favourite parts of visiting a new city is exploring its bookshops (in fact I got the inspiration for this blog in an independent bookshop in Stockholm), I tend to imagine that there are the real journeys I make through streets and cities and the imaginative journeys I make in books, while sitting in my armchair with a cup of Darjeeling.  My visit to Stanfords today reminded me that a book, even if it’s just a map or a travel guide, is the perfect travelling companion.  Not only does it quietly acquiesce without a single complaint to your insistence on visiting every single church in Florence, but it lets you stick your tickets and metro passes in its pages, to be pulled out and remembered one day years later. My own copy of Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South will forever remind me of a romantic weekend in Sweden spent reading, drinking tea and eating kanelbulle in Östermalm, as will Strindberg’s Miss Julie which I bought there in a foreign language bookshop.  One day, looking back at your swollen copy of Dubliners you’ll remember that it rained every day you were in Ireland; your tattered map of Tangiers will remind you that for the life of you, you just couldn’t get the layout of the city straight in your head and it will call to mind the many  unplanned adventures you had in its back-alleys.

Lutyens & Rubinstein (and two Bonus Bookshops)

IMG_1634Lutyens & Rubinstein, 21 Kensington Park Road, London, W11 2EU

I didn’t even mean to go to this bookshop today, but it was a very happy accident.  I’ve been into a lot of interesting bookshops in the name of The Matilda Project and in them I’ve found intellectually, aesthetically and emotionally pleasing sights, but it simply cannot be denied that this is the most beautiful bookshop I’ve been in yet.

Hanging from the roof there are elegant white lighting fixtures and, scattered amongst them, small white explosions that look like flowers or birds or snowflakes.  But really, they’re books.  Old books whose pages have been used to IMG_1625create the sense of being surrounded by a flock of birds, whose wings are printed pages, about to fly off, out into the streets of Notting Hill.   I’ve always felt a certain ambivalence to book art, even though I know that there are some truly beautiful sculptures made of hollowed-out, old and obsolete books.  Of course it depends on what the books is.  Cutting up the pages of a book about business-management-finance-legal-bureacray-or-whatever doesn’t seem like such a crime at all, in fact, making it into a piece of art is doing it a favour.  But to desecrate a copy of the 1623 Folio would, obviously, be an atrocity deserving a lifetime in jail.  Listening to Rebecca Black.  In a way, books are brilliant because they give their authors (and sometimes their readers) a life that goes on even after the individual is gone, so why shouldn’t we return the favour, and give them a second life?  It’s a bit of a sticky issue and I haven’t figured it out, but the book birds at Lutyens & Rubenstein, no matter what I decide, will always be something special.

The rest of the shop is bright with an open, modern feel.  A sleek white staircaseIMG_1629 leads to the downstairs and the children’s section is up on a little mezzanine level with a view of those paper mobiles and the rest of the shop.  It’s a really beautiful shop, worth it even if you’re not a big reader just for the absolutely lovely space.

But if you are a reader, you’ll be pretty pleased as well.  Upstairs is the beginning of the fiction section (A to about F, I think), a poetry corner and many books about art, history and politics, as well as biographies.  The selection is fantastic and represents a real mix of classics (there were SO many Dickens books!) and contemporary fiction.  The choice of books about culture, politics, history and media was thoughtful and relevant.  Downstairs there was a IMG_1626really impressive selection of  art, architecture, photography and fashion books, displayed neatly and beautifully on the shelves, a table and even sitting in one of two armchairs.  The other one, I was delighted to find, was empty, tucked in a corner and had a little lamp beside it.  I cannot express how much I love bookshops with comfortable seating.

I was tempted to buy a very interesting book about the Regent’s Canal, which IMG_1630replaced the south bank as my favourite running route when I moved all the way to North London (shiver…just kidding, now I love it).  It was such a cool book, tracing the canal as it moves through different areas of London, from Little Venice to The Olympic Park.  So cool!  I decided not to in the end and it was my boyfriend who ended up making the purchase.  Since reading The Book of Daniel by E.L. Doctorow, he’s been looking for something else by him but has been having a hard time finding it.  In L&R, Doctorow was there and he bought Ragtime.  I overheard him having a chat about it with the very friendly bookseller while I was looking through the children’s books.

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Once again, I came out empty-handed, possibly because I know that Christmas is coming and I will very soon have to fork over lots and lots of cash in bookshops. (By the way, if you haven’t seen it, Jon Green’s video about buying books for Christmas is brilliant: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y4UT9iBdQDI and I’m in love with him.)  Despite not buying a book today, I love this bookshop.  It’s a quiet, beautiful space, a bit like an art gallery or a museum, where the centrepiece is BOOKS and all kinds of beautiful, clever, interesting, unique books.  Spending half an hour among the paper birds and flying away with the words printed on them is a lovely way to spend a morning.  And if you can do it in a light and pleasant bookshop while sat in an armchair in a basement, well then you’re pretty lucky, wouldn’t you say?

Two Notting Hill Bonus Bookshops!

1.  IMG_1616Books for Cooks, 4 Blenheim Crescent, London, W11 1NN

If you find yourself in the area with time and the inclination to browse around a bit more, try Books for Cooks! This lovely little bookshop is just around the corner from L&R and if you love cooking (or just love food) it’s a fantastic place to be.  The walls are covered with bookshelves and the shelves are absolutely crammed with cook books.  Organised by region of the world, you’ll find more than your standard Jamie and Nigella here.  These cookbooks bring the whole world and all of its smells and tastes to even a cold and dreary December morning in Notting Hill.  The sheer number is quite overwhelming to anyone who’s not a chef or an absolute connoisseur, but even if you know nothing at all about food, poking around is fun! And if you get there early enough in the morning, you can even grab a bite at the cafe in the back of the shop!

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2. IMG_1619

The Notting Hill Bookshop, 13 Blenheim Crescent, London, W11 2EE

Built on the site of the Travel Bookshop made famous by a certain film called Notting Hill (maybe you’ve heard of it?) this little bookshop is officially the most tourist-y bookshop in London.  In a way, that’s cool.  In a way, it’s completely and totally awful.  If you can bear the crowds, it’s actually a really lovely little bookshop, with a great fiction and poetry selection and well-stocked history and politics sections too.  And of course, a wide range of travel books.

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Riverside Books

Riverside Books,  Unit 18-19, Hays Galleria, Counter Street, London, SE1 2HD

I love London.

Today I went for a nice long walk from my flat in King’s Cross down to this bookshop in London Bridge.  Despite the drizzle, the cold and the wind, it was a lovely walk, because I passed St. Paul’s Cathedral, crossed over the river at Southwark Bridge, getting a view of the Tate Modern and Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, walked through Borough Market and made my way along the river into Hays Galleria, just off Tooley Street.  The walk along the south bank of the Thames is amazing.  When I lived in Spitalfields, my favourite route for a run was down to the river at Tower Bridge and along the south bank up through Central London.  Oh, I could rave about that route for hours, but it’s one of those things you have to do for yourself if you ever have a sunny (or not!) day in London.

I had walked past Riverside Books many a time before today but never actually gone in.  I’m very glad that today I finally did!  It’s a wonderful little shop, right on the river, just west of Tower Bridge.  It’s a bit of a departure for me, since my favourite haunts tend to be old and crumbling and delightfully unreliable, but this bookshop is modern, fresh and neat.  Normally, that’s not a complimentary description coming from me, but in this case, it works.  I think what’s so appealing about it is that it’s modern but without being a giant conglomerate or an indifferent money-machine.  There’s still character and charm in this shop.

The shelves are populated by a careful, deliberate and masterful selection of books.  All the books which have recently won or been shortlisted for any of the big prizes are on display, so you’re sure to come across not just a book, but a good book.  Of course, even the most prestigious of prizes are awarded to a dud sometimes (cough, cough, The Sense of an Ending…) but I still think that when you’re looking for a good read, starting with prize-winners is not the worst thing you could do.  In addition to these, there is a whole bay dedicated to new releases, some by famous and acclaimed writers and some by less-known authors or newcomers.  Bestsellers, of course, also have their place, but I was delighted to see that while those dreadful books by that despicable fifty shades woman were present, there were only one copy of each “book”.  Instead of the entire bay of copies you’d see in some bookshops, here they got half a shelf.  About a million times more than they deserve.  There was a wide range of books in the fiction and poetry sections, so I was very happy!  I was also delighted that there was an entire section of literary anthologies!  They also have an amazing collection of travel books and guides, which I always enjoy looking at and imaging the possibilities.  Berlin!  Vienna!  Nice!  Dublin!   The wide range of cookbooks, crime, fantasy, science fiction and children’s books was more than you’d need and they were all arranged beautifully and organised perfectly.  As it should be, the books take the spotlight in Riverside Books and it’s a beautiful sight.

Like any good bookshop, this one still has customers shuffling in and out and in a relatively small space, I enjoyed eaves-dropping on them this morning.  A couple came in about the same time I did and when they went to pay for their books at the till, the bookseller asked the man if he wanted a loyalty card.  His hilarious response was, “No, I’m not loyal to anything.”  His girlfriend, without missing a beat, replied, “Thanks for that”, leaving him awkwardly fumbling with change and words to try and make the situation go away.  Listening to snippets like this is, aside from the books, one of my favourite parts of going to a bookshop!

I was particularly excited to see that there were lots of books about books, as I’ve pointed out in a couple of other shops recently.  Is it possible that as we see physical books, publishing and a reading culture in general being threatened, people are mobilising, making their voices heard and taking time to talk about, celebrate and properly appreciate books and the printed word?  One can only hope!  Anyway, it was in this section that I found the book I came home with today.  This is not the end of the book;by Umberto Eco and Jean-Claude Carrière is a conversation between these two literary men about the future of books.  I laughed out loud at the quotation from Umberto Eco on the back cover: “The book is like the spoon: once invented it cannot be bettered.”  And it’s true, isn’t it?  In my life, books, the physical artefacts, have been as common and pedestrian as spoons – always a part of my daily life, quietly appreciated, needed and never questioned.  The difference being that I actively adore books.  Spoons I just feel okay about.

But books, real books, are exactly perfect, just as they were the day the first one was bound.  They fit in our hands, they play with our senses, they create joy and excitement with the built-in metaphors of turning new pages, starting new chapters.  Books are our lives; we move through them the way we move through our years. Our bodies, like our books, are always being shared,  being admired, getting damaged, being marked by experiences (whether ear-marked or scar-marked), changing (whether yellowing or wrinkling), being loved, being forgotten, being remembered.  And our hearts, in our lives and in our books, are always changing, growing, making new friends, missing them when they go, fearing what comes beyond the next turn (or page, or chapter), wanting to flip ahead to make sure it all turns out all right but knowing we can’t, worrying about how many pages we have left.  Books and human lives go together, perfectly.

At Riverside Books, I was reminded of this.  Places like this are a relief, a redeeming bit of sunshine and of hope, where books (and truly good books) are all that you really need.  Well, okay; a view like this doesn’t hurt either.