I walked into one of my favourite shopping centres yesterday and began making my way to the supermarket to do some grocery shopping. By force of habit, my steps automatically led me to my most favourite place in any shopping centre….the book shop. I stared in shock at a ‘For Lease’ sign outside the shop. The book store had closed down. Over the years, I have seen several bookshops close down and each time I’ve experienced a deep, aching sense of personal loss. What could be worse for a book lover than to stand in front of a sad, desolate, empty shop that used to once buzz with activity…where readers browsed…and looked for their favourite authors..and delighted in making new discoveries of authors they had never read before?
I remembered rainy afternoons spent in the book store…walking down the aisles and re-discovering my childhood as I walked past neatly lined Enid Blyton classics….Mallory Towers, Famous Five, Secret Seven, The Naughtiest Girl series and so many others. I remembered chatting with the staff at the check out counter and exchanging stories about our favourite authors. I remembered bumping into other readers (perfect strangers) somewhere in the aisles and smiling the universal, knowing smile of recognition that all readers share with each other. I remembered all this and more and felt a deep sadness. One more bookshop bites the dust!
A day will perhaps arrive when there will be no more bookshops. New generations to come may never know what they have missed. But my generation and countless others that came before will remember the good, old-fashioned book store with love, longing and gratitude and truly lament a lost era!