Confessions of a Bookstore Junkie

Posted on March 14, 2013

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I discovered a valid gift card to Chapters Indigo the other day, and I can’t wait to get there and poke around the aisles of books. I admit I’m a bookstore junkie by association. I’m blaming my obsession on my mother. I know that may sound like a cheap shot considering she is peacefully departed and no longer around to voice her opinion, but I believe she would be a bit flattered regardless.

You could say my fixation with books began back in the days when my two younger sisters and I were dropped off at the humble community library in East Vancouver for our regular Saturday morning ritual of scouting out what was new in the children’s section, while my parents visited with my grandparents just a couple of blocks away.

“The Sneetches” – a classic.

Dr. Seuss’ “The Sneetches” became one of my earliest favourites (and still is today). I just loved the rhythm to it and the zany characters. It wasn’t long, though, before I moved into the young adult section snagging all the Nancy Drew books I could manage in my book tote. (I do know how all of this is dating myself.) Back home, Mom wasn’t too critical of my selections, just that I took respectful care of the hard covers and be mindful of due dates. In the evenings, after homework was done and the dishes cleaned, out would appear the well-loved book bag for me and the newspaper or a magazine for Mom in the kitchen.

Over the years, gifts of books were common; the quirkiness of the gift giver was often mirrored in an interesting reference text or a reflective biography. (If you’re looking for a book on Chinese knot tying or a vintage 1918 book of piano selections, I’ve got ‘em!) Flea markets and outlet stores were great sources for bargain books. It was as if a voice was calling me: “You know ya wanna….”

Black Bond Books has been around for decades.

I found I couldn’t help myself around the larger book sellers in the mall with their enticing terraced displays at the entranceways. (I am so weak.) If I was escorting my mother and we happened to be within a stone’s throw of a W.H. Smith, Chapters, or Black Bond Books we were like moths to a flame. Like my Mom, I usually caved in – a little wander near the promotions couldn’t possibly hurt, right? An ear-to-ear grin would wash over her face as we approached and she would predictably exclaim: “Get behind thee Satan ….and PUSH!!” as I guided her wheelchair through the aisles. That familiar urge would tug at us and we’d leave the store with yet another bundle of books. (Weak again.) You’d be surprised at just how many books and magazines you can load on the back of a wheelchair and still push it! That was fun.

So maybe you could say it’s genetic, but I still like to think it’s Mom’s doing. My bookcases at home are overflowing, but I’m OK with that. It’s comforting to revisit the old editions especially. And just like genetics, I’ve already passed “the seed” along to my own children and the ripple effect keeps growing. I can hardly wait to pull out my ol’ Dr. Seuss gems for our little grand-daughter. Thanks, Mom for the push all those years ago!

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