Some of my most calming, curiosity-piquing, wonder-filled memories are of libraries and bookstores. Even the smallest or dimmest or least organized are magical places, perhaps made more so by their imperfections and the sense of exploring a cavern of delights.
Years ago, I used to spend my lunch breaks at The Snooper's Barn on Towson Avenue in Fort Smith, Arkansas, poking through the dusty stackes in the back where history books and old volumes -- some antique -- were shelved higgledy-piggledy, sometimes in precarious Jenga-like towers.
I recently introduced my eldest niece to an excellent independent bookstore in Oklahoma City. When we entered Full Circle Books -- serving readers for more than three decades -- we stepped not through the looking glass, nor through a wardrobe, but through a modern glass and metal door, yet the magic still welcomed us.
She fell in love with the rambling space filled with hidden rooms and cozy nooks, and the old-fashioned ladders that travel back and forth on metal tracks in need of oiling.
The children's rooms are well-stocked with old friends and new, including a French copy of Dr. Seuss's One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish -- my niece's first excuse to climb a ladder, but I don't think she really needed a reason. ;)
Same spaces have the atmosphere of a comfortable corner of someone's home, and every doorway welcomes.
I came around the corner and encountered mysteries. There's a metaphor there, I'm sure.
My niece later found another reason to climb a ladder -- various collections of Edgar Allen Poe, to which she coined a pun: "If one is perusing the works of Edgar Allen, one could be said to be reading Poe-etry."
We are a silly lot.
On the mantel of one of the fireplaces stands this whimsical fellow:
If you ever visit Oklahoma City, try to carve out time to visit Full Circle Books, especially if you're an independent author. The staff are friendly and professional, and the store supports indie and local authors, and the variety of books is vast.