Bookstores

by bellasemplicita

I love to read and I love books.  I can’t understand why someone would ever want to read a book electronically!  I understand that sometimes you can’t be lugging a heavy volume around with you, but who would want to miss the smell of a well bound leather book and the feel of the crisp pages on your fingers?  Mmmmmmmm.  As all of my friends know I collect books.  I don’t own all that many (maybe bordering five hundred), but I love them all.  I can still remember who, where, and when I bought each and every one.  But to the point: I love bookstores!  There tends to be a somewhat large deficiency – at least in my area – of a really good and cozy bookstore.  My dream would be to own a bookstore just stuffed to the brimful with good books.  The other day as I was reading Dicken’s Martin Chuzzlewit, I cam across these two paragraphs that I loved and thought I would share.  One of the characters, Tom Pinch, who is very poor, has gone to town to pick up one of his masters new pupils.  He is looking through all of the stores and comes to a bookstore . . .

“But what were even gold and silver, precious stones and clock-work, to the bookshops, whence a pleasant smell of paper freshly pressed cam issuing forth, awakening instant recollections of some new grammar had at school, long time ago, with ‘Master Pinch, Grove House Academy,’ inscribed in faultless writing on the flyleaf!  That whiff of russia leather, too, and all those rows on rows of volumes, neatly ranged within: what happiness did they suggest!  And in the window were the spick-and-span new works from London, with the title pages, and sometimes even the first page of the first chapter, laid wide open: tempting unwary men to begin to read the book, and then, in the impossibility of turning over, to rush blindly in, and buy it!  Here to were the dainty frontispiece and trim vignette, pointing like hand posts on the outskirts of great cities, to the rich stock of incident beyond; and store of books, with many a grave portrait and time-honored name, whose manor he knew well, and would have given mines to have, in any form, upon the narrow shelf beside his bed at Mr. Pecksniff’s.  What a heart-breaking shop it was!

There was another; not quite so bad at first, but still a trying shop; where children’s books were sold, and where poor Robinson Crusoe stood alone in his might, with dog and hatchet, goat-skin cap and fowling-pieces; calmly surveying Philip Quarll and the host of imitators round him, and calling Mr. Pinch to witness that he, of all the crowd, impressed one solitary foot-print on the shore of boyish memory, whereof the tread of generations should not stir the lightest grain of sand.  And there too were the Persian tales, with flying chests and students of enchanted books shut up for years in caverns: and there too was Abudah, the merchant, with the terrible little old woman hobbling out of the box in his bedroom: and there the mighty talisman, the rare Arabian Nights, with Cassim Baba, divided by four, like the ghost of a dreadful sum, hanging up, all gory, in the robber’s cave.  Which matchless wonders, coming fast on Mr. Pinch’s mind, did so rub and chafe that wonderful lamp within him, that when he turned his face towards the busy street, a crowd of phantoms awaited on his pleasure, and he lived again, with new delight, the happy days before the Pecksniff era.”

– Charles Dickens, from “The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit”


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