Yesterday, I walked the neighborhood, carried twenty or so books to sell to the used bookstore, also my go-to place for buying used paperbacks. Most of the books on my shelves come from their shelves. To my surprise, the store was half empty when I arrived. Empty bookcases. Hollow bins. A sign that everything must go. I immediately became frantic, What? You’re closing? The owner nodded. The lease is up. It’s time. But I saw, in the quiet way his shoulders shifted, this was not the full story.
I stood with a heavy bag of books slung on my arm. I had made the difficult decision to let go of them and I needed to unload. There is simply no room for them in my apartment. Despite that, I looked at the half-store of books that must-go, this store I had spent countless hours in, browsing and buying, and bought as many as I could.
I left the store with more books when I should have had less. I debated what to do. My shoulder, at that point, hurt. So I stood at the corner, looked up at a brownstone with its towering stoop and decided to leave the books I had meant to sell at the foot of it. As I arranged them, an older couple stopped to look at the titles. You can have any you want, I said and I left them all there (the books, the couple) with the hope they’d find a match.
As I walked home with my newly bought used books (confused yet?) I found this young girl. She also carried a bag of books, just bought from Book Court, the indie bookstore in nearby Cobble Hill.
It seemed she couldn’t wait to read what she had found. She read the opening pages while she walked.