One of my favorite past times, when I am not reading, is visiting bookstores. I have always liked going to bookstores. But I wasn’t always able to enjoy such pleasures. Growing up in Brooklyn, I had to content myself with a weekly visit to the local public library. The one bookstore in my neighborhood sold dusty old second hand books, and new books which were not usually suitable for children. There was also a drug store and a stationary store, which both sold popular novels, which also did not attract much of my attention. But the library had the books divided up according to subjects, so if I was in the mood to read a book about space, animals, or a faraway country, my curiosity was easily satisfied. But mostly I loved the novels. To find a good one, I usually asked the librarian for a recommendation. Because of my librarian’s good taste and refined ways, I read such amazing books as Gone with the Wind, The Phantom Tollbooth, and Little Women at an early age.
It wasn’t until High School, and even more so, college, that I learned the joy of visiting bookstores. Until then my love of owning my own books was mostly satisfied via the wonderful company called Scholastic Books. Periodically, perhaps once a month or once every few months, my teacher would hand out a thin magazine printed on newspaper with lists of books which I could actually own. The day the books arrived at school was a happy day for me. I don’t remember too many of the books I bought from scholastic, but one of the series I enjoyed from them was the Harriet the Spy books.
But bookstores took buying books to a whole new level. Wondering through the aisles of a bookstore on a college campus like U.C. Berkeley, where I was a student, is an experience which can hardly be described in words. The subjects were universally fascinating, the textbooks brimming with the promise of discovery and adventure. Now, many years later, I am still in awe when I enter a bookstore, and can barely resist purchasing just about everything I touch. I still borrow many books from libraries, but my house is also filled with books that I have purchased, either on-line, from bookstores, second hand, or from various book clubs which I have belonged to. Certainly reading is a lifelong pleasure which I am grateful to be able to enjoy so thoroughly.