There is no time I can remember in which I didn’t love books. Even as objects before I could read them. I’d look at the books in the built-in shelves in my living room growing up....I loved the fabric covers printed with embossed words and images, the glossy, full-page illustrations, the tattered covers and jackets.
The books of my childhood have also been embossed into my being. Oddkins, David and the Phoenix, Gwinna, The Mysteries of Harris Burdick, The Chronicles of Narnia...I liked magic and a little bit of darkness or mystery. As I got a little older, I loved Michael Ende’s The Neverending Story...I distinctly remember reading it in the bathtub, over and over.
Of course, I adored the movie before that book--like so many others, the bookstore in the movie took my breath away. More than anything, I wanted to explore it with Bastian. I just knew there were treasures in there!
Whenever I find bookstores now, I absolutely want them to be like THAT shop....the stacks on the floor, the dusty volumes, the leather and cloth and gold. When I lived in Vancouver, my favorite bookstore was MacLeod’s Books downtown, because it reminded me of the shop in The Neverending Story.
Recently, upon rewatching The Neverending Story (a frequent occurrence for me!), I had a strange feeling while seeing Bastian run from his bullies. The lampposts, the cobblestone street, the particular arrangement of buildings---this looked oddly familiar.
Through the door of the bookstore, I caught sight of the sign: Gastown. Gastown, a part of downtown Vancouver, where I’d walked so many times. Could this be? MacLeod’s reminded me of the bookstore in The Neverending Story because it WAS the same bookstore!
This makes me feel nostalgic and triumphant, all at once. And it feels distinctly magical.
This holiday season, like so many others, I’ll be giving many books as gifts. It’s inevitable. I’m sure you will be, too.
This week, I’ve been reminded of the power of stories, books, libraries, and art. What we create can outlive us, can teach us, can be an honest reflection and aspiration for us.
Let us all be open to the power of stories, which expand the self, and teach us to hear and love someone else.
What books will you be giving as gifts this year?