Bookstore Wandering

| 2 MINUTE READ | The small truces between culture and capitalism


My driver’s family returned to the village during lockdown. He moved into a shared dormitory where he pays 5% of his salary as rent. With physical classrooms reopening, he is making plans for his family’s return. Preparing to part with 30% of his income for house rent. Living with his wife and young son in a big city is not financially efficient. But there are other metrics beyond the mercantile, held by the heart and honed by culture, that guide us to choose the things we do.

A neighbourhood bookstore, that closed its shutters under the double whammy of Amazon and lockdown, changed hands and reopened a few weeks ago. The large, high ceilinged glass walls drench the place with light. Giving the illusion of being outdoors while retaining the comfort of being indoors.

I went there this morning and wandered around the store. It was early and the place was empty and quiet. I looked at the collection of titles, scanning an array of shelves. Tested the sliding ladder to access the upper racks. It was lighter than I imagined. Circled neatly stacked tables, stopping to browse for a line or paragraph to leap out and hook me.

The slow pace gave me the raw satisfaction of an unmoored traveller. Content to explore and alive to the promise of unexpected discovery. Ordering books on Amazon provide a transactional velocity that is hard to match. I arrive at the platform with an author or title in mind and in a few moments, before the tea turns cold, am provided with a firm date of delivery. But the online world has distorted the emotion we associate with browsing. A world constricted into a mobile phone screen disregards the value humans derive from a tactile and organic immersion into the world of objects. By the end of my excursion I had a book of poems, two collections of short stories, a layman introduction to String Theory and a meditation on freedom and happiness. None of which I would have gone out looking for on Amazon. All of which, in different ways, express a human spirit to transcend the conditioning that makes us predictable consumers and pragmatic citizens.

Our lives are a swirling dance between the compulsions and conveniences of capitalism and the intuitive and healing tug of an expansive stillness that survives at the centre of our bodies. This morning at the bookstore, they settled into a sweet equilibrium with each other.

47 thoughts on “Bookstore Wandering

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  1. Ananda, this is beautiful. The last 2 paragraphs says it all. Feeling like an “unmoored traveler” is the best feeling. The bookstore is absolutely stunning. It indeed captures the light and air of the outdoors (and the sliding ladder!). I love the message of this post and agree!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Marvelous! There is a whole different experience to choosing a product yourself. I feel my shopping trips are adventures in themselves, I wouldn’t change that for shopping on line for nothing in the world.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I agree, I like the touch and feel of books. When I can I buy a book but everyone doesn’t publish books and that is ok. You make a very good point and it is a great piece. Thank you and have a blessed weekend. Hugs, Joni

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Ah! the pleasures of lazy browsing through a bookstore! And the feel of a book in your hands, the slight sense of pent up anticipation as to what lies around the corner as you flip a page. Tactile indeed! An organic participant in the whole process and journey, and not just a ‘voyeur’ as when you read on a screen or Kindle. Here’s to bookstores forever!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Says it all – “Circled neatly stacked tables, stopping to browse for a line or paragraph to leap out and hook me.”

    Mesmerising and thought provoking composition Anand😌

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Well written kind sir, you gave a wander within us just as a book does. Takes us on a journey to show us something different and stretches our imagination. I love to be immersed in another world, it touches those parts of us that hopes and wishes, so much so that we even project on what we would like to happen…until the author catches us out in surprise. Is it that we are projecting ourselves, a natural occurrence in our everyday lives. And alas, just to make my journey even more difficult, someone taught me how to speed read…and a story is over before I get properly immersed in its journey. Thank you for sharing your tale Ananda, it did slow me down to appreciate some color and depth instead of that ‘life’ thing 😀 ❤️ 🙏🏽 🦋

    Liked by 1 person

  7. what a beautiful share Ananda! I too am tactile and yet I am here on the screen … a writer’s dilemma indeed and time savor at the same time. There is nothing like a book store that opens our senses and hearts and brings personally i savor every moment.
    Always love your reads and heart through words and this:

    💖💖

    “Our lives are a swirling dance between the compulsions and conveniences of capitalism and the intuitive and healing tug of an expansive stillness that survives at the centre of our bodies. This morning at the bookstore, they settled into a sweet equilibrium with each other.”

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Life’s always throwing new ways of expression, from oral to written to typed, tactile to visual. Ultimately, words, language, expression are all part of the changing, evolving world, reminding us of the transience..the book culture may fade into oblivion, to make way for electronic, but what’s unfortunate is the carefully cultivated thought culture, lending meaning to nuanced word and creating mind picture…words that tease you into delve into fertile imagination..thanks to the WhatsApp culture! Beautifully crafted.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. haymamtika@hotmail.com

    As always it’s all about choices and balance

    As I get along in years going out to do my chores,fulfilling my wants and needs etc is a refreshing activity keeping me in touch with my world , on the other hand I do consider it a blessing to find all I need at my doorstep avoiding the driving the
    traffic and most of all not having to depend and encroach upon others to fulfill my wants and needs making my life in a way comfortable for me and others too.

    For me the choice I make is dependent on how I feel each moment each day

    As the wise say …, only change is constant , how we accept and flow with change will take us along gently through the journey of life.

    Haymantika

    Liked by 1 person

  10. A small event / experience for most people – provides a large opportunity for an expansive and aesthetic narration for you! This is the same principle that has triggered the original creation…Big Bang…a dimensionless point of infinite mass expands into forming multiple universes!!!

    A bookstore provides the change of “time-space” coordinates to perceive a new experience. Mobile “Phone + Amazon” operate on the theory of uncertainty – mutually cancelling the very event… 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Thank you for that walk down the memory lane of a book store which are near extinct. You have captured the essence of feelings one goes through while browsing through those books, admiring it’s cover and some random illustrations. One also looks into another section again to feel good about the variety of subjects one can browse and then tell yourself that you don’t have time for that right now, may be next time. So the account with that shop is always open in your mind.
    The Amazon on the mobile is nowhere near this happiness in our lives.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Reading your writeup I felt like an unmoored traveller myself, chancing upon an unexpected discovery . For these exact same thoughts were vaguely floating around in my mind, but I had never given words to the thoughts even to myself. When I read your beautiful way of expressing the same sentiment, its a revelation to know there are more kindred souls out there than you’d expect.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Beautifully written as always, Ananda, a gentle stillness within a busy day, life a play between what we think we want, what we leads us gently towards it and what actually is 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Oh, the joys of bookstore wandering! I miss the “the raw satisfaction of an unmoored traveller” experience physical bookstores provide. I’ve written a lot about the frustration of finding and buying books (except for international bestsellers) as I live in a country where English is not an official language. So, I won’t rant here. 🙂 Instead, all I can say my love-hate relationship (both as a reader and writer) with the omnipresent Amazon continues.

    Thank you for this brilliant write. It reminded me of the sweet unhurried weekends in Johannesburg, browsing books and reading magazines at my local bookstore.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Delightful read! I’m so with you on this. Though equally guilty for resorting too often to the online route for ordering books! The lockdown can take fair share of the blame. All book lovers who have ever browsed in book shops – once upon a time – will love this post. I do!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. The short posts beautifully done always touches the heart. Brings back memories of train travels to me. A H Wheeler & Co used to be regular features of most Railway Stations and loved dropping into one prior to the cosy journeys. Simple pleasures, no more now.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Brilliantly written as usual. Indeed, the bookstore is a wonderful metaphor for life. Opportunities abound for the “unmoored” traveller to explore, experience and learn from the surprises life has to offer.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. As I was reading this I was imagining the smell and texture of books in a bookstore. I can get lost in one for hours. I try my very, very best to only buy books from small local retailers. They need my money – Jeff Bezos definitely does not!

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Bookstores are irreplaceable. That richness of experience – looking, touching, inhaling the scent of those covers and pages. It’s something that can only be experienced and not explained. Walking into a bookstore is like walking into a candy shop. There’s so much to choose from and the excitement and allure makes one want everything. I’ve spent plenty of time in my younger days browsing and discovering books that I couldn’t have known existed. Amazon may be cheaper, but the wandering, pausing, reading, and moving ahead to the next book adventure is sorely missing. The photo is a beautiful one. Would love to visit this place. Thanks for sharing your wonderful experience, Anand. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Hello Ananda,

    Thank you for sharing of your experience in the bookstore. You took us there, through your vivid description. I, too, prefer excursions to bookstores; but I’m also grateful for being able to order certain books online.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Amazon is boring efficiency and certainty. In Amazon you choose a book. In a book store as you put in your characteristic way, it is almost as though the book chooses you. You could even go in with a resolve i will merely browse and won’t buy a thing.thing and lose that resolve and not be unhappy about it

    Liked by 1 person

  22. I love this sentence, “But the online world has distorted the emotion we associate with browsing.” What a lovely post about the encroachment of our modern “productivity” and the benefits of doing it with “expansive stillness.” Beautifully written!

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Wonderful journey in book store . Your wandering made me feel if I was myself in the book store. The convenience of ordering from home cannot substitute this lucid experience, though other factors may dictate our decision to order from home . Your description of such simple subject carries your usual stamp of real life phenomenon well described.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. 👌 Yes! A very thoughtful and insighful examination of two worlds. don’t think I have set foot in a bookstore for some years now…

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    Liked by 1 person

  25. Loved it.
    I stopped buying online a few years ago.
    Airports see me making a beeline to the book-store – but it is mostly bestsellers only.
    When-ever I can I go to old-style bookshops – but can’t often enough.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. You’re right. I much prefer browsing for books in bookstores rather than Amazon online. Why?
    Being surrounded by books in the real elicited a surreal feeling of either knowledge sought or perhaps knowledge already gained.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Awesome Anand !
    Indeed, online browsing can never match the ambience of a bookstore, the feel of a book in your hand and the aroma of printed paper.

    Liked by 2 people

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