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Wednesday, July 17, 2024

EDITORIAL: Let’s Not Forget the Adventure of Exploring Old Bookshops


There’s a fantastic little bookshop⁣ that lurks on the corner ⁣of Union and South College Street, just across the way from Proctors‌ Theater. A quaint, weather-beaten building,⁢ conspicuously titled⁤ the ‘River Street Bookshop.’ It’s easy⁤ to pass by without a second glance, a ravaged casualty⁣ in​ our compulsive digital sprint⁣ into the future, overlooked by most folks who are simply much too consumed with their noses buried in their smartphones.

I’ve dawdled past its storefront a million times, sometimes ⁣simply to run my fingers along the dusty, cracked wood ​of the entrance‌ door, feeling the sensation seeping into them – a familiar whisper of days long past, breathing‌ in a poignant‍ blend of nostalgia and fallen ‌years.

Now, I’m by no means a luddite‌ or a technophobe. As a matter of⁣ fact, as I hunch over my tireless keyboard penning​ this, I acknowledge the benefits this technological age brought ⁤us. The instant ‍knowledge at our fingertips, ⁣the miraculous world​ of social media, the limitless avenues of e-commerce, and, of course, ⁢the flood of ⁤e-books.

But sometimes, you ⁢just have to put down the digital and inhale the scent of a time when life was ‍a bit more tangible.

When‌ I was a teenager, my father, a man of sincere austerity and a formidable bibliophile, used to ​bring me along on his ‍weekend ventures to this very bookshop. The collection was⁢ a‌ maelstrom of genres. Rows upon rows of collectively silent yet⁤ cacophonously whispering books, stocked away in an enigmatic labyrinth. Every visit felt like a grand adventure, akin to ​setting ⁢foot on a wild,⁤ unexplored continent in an attempt to unearth its secrets.

But it wasn’t just about the books. Each shelf, every⁤ well-worn, familiar corner, the ever-slightly distorted ​reflection in the rippled glass pane, has a story to tell.​ The legacy of ages, a testament to humanity’s thirst for knowledge, creativity, and narrative, arrayed therein.

Being within those enchanting walls was akin to wading through ⁣the Avalon of human ​consciousness, ‌littered with fragments of the past, tokens of the ⁢present, and speculations of the future, a sanctuary of learning‍ and exploration.

Now,⁣ this isn’t a pulpit from which I sternly denounce online libraries or the patronage of Amazon and their ruthless, sacrilegious⁣ ilk. Nor is it a desperate plea to return to the‌ days⁢ of yore. The confluence ‍of ink and parchment isn’t going to achieve​ some ‍grand resurgence, and in truth, it doesn’t really need to.

There are just some things that the cold, unfeeling metal of⁢ a Kindle or the harsh, illuminated pixels of a smartphone screen can never replicate.

It’s the sensation of being lost within⁢ a maze ​of⁤ unending shelves, crammed ‌with an infinite variety of expansive stories and smoky, historical records. The initial​ touch​ of a cover of‍ some forgotten tome, its previous owners perhaps long departed from this world, but the echo of their presence lingering still. The puzzling thrill of an unexpected⁤ treasure, unattended and overlooked, the score of a lifetime ‍unexpectedly found in the recesses⁣ of a‌ cluttered back room. Some ⁣obscure first edition, perhaps, or a scandalous, carte-blanche celebrity biography, caught in a humble sun ray slashing through the encroaching gloom.

But perhaps the most enticing charm that these rustic bastions of⁢ antiquity have managed to retain is⁤ the reaffirmation of humanity. ‍The knowledgeable, lab-coat wearing,‍ bespectacled shop owner who ‍not only knows more about books than you could⁤ ever dream of knowing but ​also has an⁤ unnerving ability to read you as easily as one of his well-stocked stories.

Back​ in the day, I might’ve‌ found ‍myself deep in conversation with the then-owner, Mr. Mancini, a wiry, elderly man with​ a mane ‌of unruly hair and a⁤ mustache to match. The bookstore was his soulmate, his life’s love. His​ anecdotes, the histories behind each book he sold, his passion for the lost art,‌ were infectious and refreshing. We ⁢would share stories, literature and personal, over a freshly brewed cup of coffee, concocted on a vintage percolator that still holds a hallowed space on the counter.

To wrap it⁤ in a nutshell, exploring an antiquarian bookshop is a tactile manifesto of human culture, a sensory invoking experience that‌ transcends beyond the simplistic scroll and ⁢swipe of an ‌e-reader.⁢ It’s an enchanting battle against the overwhelming tide of‌ relentless modernity and an era that ‍stubbornly refuses to ⁢die.

No,⁤ we may not be able ⁤to slow down the relentless⁤ advancement of ⁢technology,‍ our relentless march toward a fully digitized‌ era, ‌but am⁣ I so wrong in asking to pause on occasion, to remember to truly live and experience life in its most tangible form? To feel, touch, and experience?

So, the next time you find yourself meandering around ⁤the city, take a moment to push aside ⁤the relentless push ⁢notifications and maybe take a detour via that antiquated corner that you ⁢so normally overlook. For within that quaint, deliciously⁤ outdated bookstore, you might just ‍find a piece ⁣of your soul that you never knew​ was ‌missing. Experience matters. ​The journey is often more enriching than⁢ the destination. And ⁤in the case of old bookshops like the River Street Bookshop, the journey is the destination.

Brian McCarthy
Brian McCarthy
I'm Brian McCarthy! At your service to offer traditionally informed perspective on today's issues. Some call it out of touch; I call it time-honored wisdom.
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