All that paper and inkThis morning, I heard a story on talk radio about two young women in Pennsylvania who wanted a community market in their town so they could get good groceries, fresh produce from local farms, options for gluten-free diets, etc. Their neighbors shopped at the local gas station. And though gas stations have come a long way in their options, the kids in their neighborhood rarely ate fresh fruit and veggies, opting instead for items that used to be vegetables at some processing point. So, these women took it upon themselves to open a community market. As I listened to this story, I daydreamed about opening a bookstore, for many similar reasons as the market ladies.

For one, people need bookstores. They need a literary place to hang out—not just an empty room with a stage and a dank smell of yesterday’s spilled alcohol as they make their slam poetry dreams happen, they need a real store, with real, hand-held books, and shelf upon shelf of books that remind us that it can be done.

For another, we need rooms of ideas collected from diverse people who came up with them and believed in them enough to write them down and had agents and publishers also believe in those words enough to make them into books. Big books, small books, books with pictures, books with thick pages and large words, books with cool, smooth pages and small print, and that enchanting scent of all that paper and ink!

On Friday, I walked from shelf to shelf, opening books and breathing them in. No one stopped me. No one snickered that I must be a weirdo for doing it. No, book people get it, and they’re the ones enjoying their neighborhood bookstore, a store to which—and this brings me back to the community market girls–I had to drive a half hour just to reach. A half hour is too far for the nearest bookstore location. I’m surprised the kids in my town aren’t walking around saying, “What’s a book? What good is a book?”

My bookstore daydream continues. Yes, we can live without fresh food and without paper-and-ink books, but when you bite into a carrot and discover its sugary sweetness and when you open your own book to reveal a whole world within, ready to explore, your senses are opened to the difference. And you just can’t go back.

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Jody Brown is the author of Upside Down Kingdom, and is a multi-blogger, poet, and traveler. Her current writing projects, including her daily blog endeavor, #Project365, can be found at JodyBrown.com/writing. For more bookstore love, see the post Bookstore Camping.

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