I just love haunting used bookstores. There’s an energy there that invigorates me and heals my soul. I wander into the store, inhaling the special scent that is in all bookstores, anticipating the search for a new treasure, hidden there somewhere in all of those shelves, just beckoning me to it. I delight in feeling the books, running my fingers along the spines as I scan the titles, believing I can feel which one is the book to take out and peruse. Once I find one, I often sit on the floor if there is no chair around and read parts of books. That’s when magic happens. My surroundings completely disappear and I become lost in a world of my own, living only in that moment, in the book. Whether it is fantasy, a great novel, great poetry, a humorous mystery or comparative religion, I find myself drawn into the glory of the words.
Tonight, I was immersed in a book about Native American herbs and healing techniques. I thought about buying it but, oddly perhaps, felt that it needed to be there for someone else to find. As I was sitting in that section, cross-legged on the floor, a man and his young son, about five, came by. The son stopped, looked at me and as I felt him looking at me, I raised my head and smiled at him. He looked at me, just above my eye level. From the puzzled look on his face, he was surely wondering why a woman my age was sitting cross-legged on the floor of a bookstore and with the candid simplicity of childhood asked, “Why are you on the floor?”
I replied, “I’m sitting on the floor because I am reading this book and my legs are tired. What do you do when you read books?”
He looked up for a moment, then told me “I sit on my Daddy’s lap, but if he’s not there, I use a chair!!!” (“Silly woman” was in his voice, but he politely omitted that.)
I smiled and said, “But there isn’t a chair here. But the floor is.”
He looked perturbed and told me, “You’re a grandma. I can tell. I will go find you a chair.” My heart was touched by his generosity and courtesy. I looked up at his dad, who was patiently waiting and smiling during this exchange and asked if I could hug the little guy. He didn’t have to answer, because that little boy gave ME a long, tight and heart-felt hug. I thanked him for that sweet hug and the offer to find me a chair and told him I liked sitting on the floor. He said, “OK, if you say so. But you should find a lap.”
Out of the mouths of babes. Do you think bookstores should provide laps for reading? Perhaps not (darn), but parents should continue to share books and laps with their children. It inspires them to keep reading, learning and to explore the world.
Books open the universe to us. They expand our minds. They educate. They allow us to use our imaginations to find our place in the world and new ways of looking at others.
I look forward to my next adventure in a used bookstore. I sat on no laps, but I had a wonderful hug from a thoughtful young man who knows the value of a lap. And books. He now knows that even a Grammy can sit on the floor with a book. And lose herself in a world of words.