Aged Pages: Through the Eyes of a Convert
For as long as I can remember, books have been a part of my life. I started young, with the classic children’s book “Goodnight Moon” being read to me every night. From there, my love of books grew. I learned to read at a very early age (at one point, my parents thought I was a genius) and went through books like they were going out of style. At around the age of six or seven, my aunt bestowed unto me her cherished collection of L.M. Montgomery’s “Anne of Green Gables” books. I quickly fell in love with Anne Shirley,Montgomery’s spunky protagonist, and delighted in following the goings-on in her life throughout the series.
Yet I always wondered where these books, filled as they were with their bright characters and beautiful worlds, came from. Everything in my tiny collection was a gift, but if I wanted to expand my library, I had to find the source. I can’t remember for the life of me the first time I entered a bookstore, but I was hooked from then on. I would beg my mother to take me to the mall, and while most girls my age were making a beeline for Claire’s or Hot Topic, I would run straight to Waldenbooks. I sat on the floor and read as my mother ran her errands, and would be fully engrossed in whatever book I had picked up by the time she came back. As I got older, I must sheepishly admit that my taste changed and I spent a majority of my time and money in the manga (Japanese graphic novel) section. Yet Waldenbooks was always my first stop at the mall, right up until the very day it closed. Once I grew a little bit older and had my own mode of transportation, I would hop in my car and drive to the Borders a few towns over. When they opened a Barnes & Noble at the mall, you could find me curled up in a chair in the corner of the store, happily reading whatever I could get my hands on. I would gladly spend my hard earned money at these big-name, corporate bookstores if it meant I could get back into the worlds an author wanted to share with me.
I went on in this manner for a number of years, well into my early adulthood, blissfully unaware that there were alternative routes to the book world. Whether this was a product of my environment or my upbringing, I’ve yet to determine. I’m sure used bookstores exist on Long Island, I’m just not sure of where to find them.
My outlook on the world of books (not to mention my outlook on life) was changed forever the moment my path intertwined with that of the handsome, debonair pirate/cowboy/poet/man known as Robert Zimmermann. All sappy girlfriend feelings aside, Rob is a genuinely passionate man, and his love for the literary world is limitless. You don’t have to look very far to know this is true, just read through his blog and see how the love shines through.
The first time Rob and I visited his local used bookstore together was a magical experience. It took mere seconds for my way of thinking to shift. This haven, this treasure trove, was unlike anything I’d ever seen, and in its hometown quaintness, infinitely more beautiful than anything a corporate store could ever hope to offer me. The floor-to-ceiling bookshelves, filled to the point of bursting with more books than I could ever hope to read in a lifetime, brought an enormous grin to my face. The quiet and welcoming atmosphere made me feel at home immediately. And while having a $20 in your pocket won’t get you very far at a corporate store, Catnap will make anyone feel like a millionaire with their amazingly low prices (the $1 paperbacks are my weaknesses, as are the trade paperback shelves). This is not to knock corporate bookstores; they have thoroughly legitimate reasons for the prices they charge. And while it’s true that some of the books at a used bookstore are not always in pristine condition, I’ve always had a mild fear of ruining a brand new book. This doesn’t mean that I won’t buy new books, or that aged pages should be treated with any less care than their newer counterparts, it may just mean that I have very strange neuroses. If anything, the wear and tear that used books may sometimes have shows what rich histories they’ve accumulated. And while some people of my former mentality may turn their noses up at a secondhand book, I for one embrace them in all their pre-owned glory. Sometimes, you can even find bits of their previous history tucked away in the pages. For example, on my most recent visit to Catnap, I found a copy of Nikos Kazantzakis’ “Zorba the Greek,” and when I picked it up off of the shelf, an old bus ticket was peeking out of the top, acting as a bookmark.
I don’t need bright lights, lattes, or plush furniture, all I need is a way to gain access to books. I’m not quite against corporate bookstores or the amenities they provide; I’ll still visit them from time to time. But used bookstores have shown me another way into the literary world, and I’ll happily sit in a corner, either on a stool or the floor, and read to my heart’s content.
About the Guest:
Jackie Vazquez is my girlfriend. She doesn’t really have all those “cool” links to hand out like past guests. But she’s really cool. She’s also busy working and going to grad school to be a school psychologist. That’s why I wrote up this bio myself. I don’t want to rant and rave about her too much since you might like her more than me, if I were to keep talking 😛