We all have them. Bad days: times when something happens that knocks you sideways, and stops you from being able to smile. I’ve read somewhere that without bad days, you’d never fully appreciate the good days, so there’s always a silver lining.
The first thing I do when I’m feeling a little less cheery is reach for my favorite book. You know the type of book that feels like a friend? One you’ve read a million times, and will read over again because it’s almost as comforting as a deep and meaningful with your best friend. Sometimes more comforting, because you don’t have to spill your secrets, or worry about being upset. You can just grab your book, go soak in the tub, and let your troubles float away, while your fictional friends entertain you.
My go-to book at the moment is The Fault In Our Stars by John Green. I know what you’re thinking. A story about two teens with cancer isn’t exactly uplifting, but it is. Of course it is.
There’s so many sentences in that book that make me pause, and wonder at the sheer perfection of his writing.
I don’t think I’ll ever tire of it. And Hazel and Augustus feel like friends.
Bad days come and go, but the love of a good book can make almost anything better.
Do you have a go-to book?
Today a package arrived. A box; small, square and wrapped in butcher paper. There was no return address. My name was written in elegant cursive on the front, in what looked to be ink from a calligraphy pen.
The package rustled a little in my hand. It murmured. I blinked twice in the dim light of the bookshop. It shook this time, as if urging me to rip the plain paper off to see what treasure lay beneath.
Once more, I scrutinized the package to try to discern who’d sent it. Maybe there was a note inside?
I walked with quick steps to the back of the bookshop, where the soft afternoon sunlight streamed in, and sat on the chaise.
The butcher paper made a satisfying ‘chhhh‘ as strips fell from my hands to the floor.
The title of the book gleamed, all at once old, but oh so new in my hands. THE BOOK WITHOUT SOUND. A small vibration went from the cover to my fingertips as I gently pried it open. It was inscribed: “She loved this book, and I wanted you to have it. Soon, I will join my glorious Gloria, and our life will be a symphony once more. As ever, Gerald from Chicago.”
I closed the book and wept. For them, for me, for a world without Gloria and Gerald, and all the bookshops that they’d never step into. But then I smiled. As I imagined them together again. And who knows, maybe one day I’d feel a whisper of a breeze on my neck, and know it was them.
I ran my hand lovingly over the cover of The Book Without Sound, and felt the gentle hum of appreciation. There was only one thing for it. I settled back on the chaise, and began to read.
The Bookshop on the Corner
Snuggled in the cozy bay window of the bookshop, I looked up from my novel as the first golden rays of sunshine brightened the sky. Resting my head against the cool glass, I watched the light spill, as though it had leaked, like the yellows of a watercolor painting. Almost dawn, it would soon be time to switch on, and get organized for another day at The Bookshop on the Corner.
Every day I arrived at work a few hours prior to opening to read in the quiet, before customers would trickle in. I loved these magical mornings, time stolen from slumber, where I’d curl up with a book and get lost inside someone else’s world before dog-earing the page and getting lost in mine. Sure, I could have stayed in bed at home and read, but the bookshop had a dream-like quality about it before dawn that was hard to resist.
I turned back to the inside of the shop to watch shards of muted sunlight settle on piles of books, as if it were slowly waking them. The haphazard stacks seemed straighter, as if they’d decided when I wasn’t looking to neaten themselves up, dust their jackets off, and stand to attention. Maybe a customer would stumble across one of them today, run a hand lovingly across their covers, before selecting a book that caught their attention. Though my theory was books chose us, and not the other way around.
The bookshop was silent, bar a faint hum — were the books muttering to each other about what today would bring? Smiling to myself, I went back to my novel, promising myself just one more chapter.
When I looked up again the sun was high in the sky, and I’d read a much bigger chunk than I’d meant to. Some stories consumed you, they made time stop, your worries float into the ether, and when it came to my reading habits I chose romance over any other genre. The appeal of the happy ever after, the winsome heroine being adored for who she was, and the devastatingly handsome hero with more to him than met the eye tugged at my heart. And I’d read about them all: from dashing dukes, to cocksure cowboys, I never met one I didn’t fall for.
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