The Magic of Barnes and Nobles (or bookstores in general)

A nerdy kid’s equivalent of Disneyworld.

I’ve got nothing against libraries, really. In fact, I love libraries to death! As a little kid, I would go there and check out chapter books, and just stay on the couches and read them all. And repeat, several times a day. Yeah, I was a nerdy little child. But I’m glad I read so much, because I’ve got a mighty expansive vocabulary, and an enduring passion for reading. Even when I don’t have time, I can always rely on literature to bring me back down to the ground. And I developed this love for literature in my local library, for years and years.

But the reason I don’t go there anymore is because libraries depress me. I go back once in a while, and leave sadder than ever, after seeing how FEW people go there anymore, and the poor quality of the building. Funding continually gets redirected away from libraries, and I just see the conditions deteriorate. I am overwhelmed with the sadness of it all. Yet amidst all the social problems that exist today (poverty, discrimination, wars, genocide) I must force myself to be a rational decisionmaker, and deal with the fact that the world has limited time and resources, and that we must effectively manage what we have. So, because there really isn’t going to be any real consequence if libraries become less popular (except the destruction of my childhood – sob), then I feel as if it’s only rational to put Project SAVE THE LIBRARIES on the backburner, and focus on my education, so that in the long run, I can aim my time and resources towards the most pressing social issues. And that’s the way it should be done, in my opinion. This is how we ought to deal with problems.

So, because it saddens me when I go to my local library, and because I have grudgingly decided to stand by and watch libraries become more and more scarce, whenever I need a book or a quiet place to work or read, I go to my neighborhood Barnes and Nobles. I used to go to a local Borders, but then I moved, and it closed down.

Can I describe to you why I love my Barnes and Nobles so much? Can it be described? There’s not a single word that can describe my experiences there, each time allowing me to have a different epiphany each time I step out of those metal-detector-secure doors. I’ll do my absolute best :)

Walking into my Barnes and Nobles, the first thing one experiences is the COLD. Especially these days, when outside it’s sweltering hot, you immediately get a chill down your back when you feel the twenty degree difference. I don’t know why they do it! But I appreciate it; it keeps my denim jeans out of my winter clothes box, and continually hanging up in my closet, ready for my next trip to the old B&N.

After you get over the initial shock of the chilly environment, you will notice shelves upon shelves BOOKS OF EVERY KIND! And while I’m sure that all other Barnes and Nobles, Borders, other bookstores, and libraries have just as many books, if not more, I like to think that my bookstore has the best of the best; nevertheless, the fact that everyone probably has some sort of bookstore/library within a 20 mile radius from their homes makes this topic all the more relatable :) Every genre that you could ever possibly think of lies within the safety of the study book shelves that stretch on forever, or so it seems. On my way to the bathrooms, I try to take different routes each time so I can see just what surprising category of book Barnes and Nobles has been offering. I’ve seen:

  • Teenager (of course)

  • Architecture

  • Gay & Lesbian

  • Cooking

  • Whole shelves dedicated to holding only YOGA

  • Poetry

  • and the list goes on…and ON…AND ON….AND ON!!!! It really amazes me, the extent to which I can learn, if I simply pick up a book and read.

Why don’t people just drop out of school and just spend all day at Barnes and Nobles? Oh right, because then they’d start charging you for how much time you simply spend in there, and then…we’d have a crisis on our hands. But really, I’m often overwhelmed with how much I could potentially learn, or hone my knowledge, with endless resources basically free to me, if I were willing to spend all afternoon there, which I totally am.

Another thing I love, is that at my B&N is a little Starbucks on the very side. Often, I don’t even need a book when I go to Barnes and Nobles. I just need a different environment to read/learn/study in, and the bookstore has become my home away from home. The Starbucks baristas never fail to give me a cheery (despite sometimes being forced) smile, and I feel as though placing my order without ease has become comparable to reaching into the fridge for a quick bite to eat. Free internet, food? We should all drop out of school and….I don’t know where I’m going with this one.

My all time favorite part of Barnes and Nobles? THE PEOPLE!

Even though I have only been going to Barnes and Nobles for a few weeks since school has started winding out, I feel as though each stranger that sits across me at those awkward but ultimately comfortable 2-person tables is just another story that – each time – I choose to deal with differently.

So far, I’ve only gone to work on my SAT and AP studying, and so I haven’t had the pleasure of sitting down to relax with a good read. But I enjoy watching other people read for leisure, glad that even if I can’t unwind, at least they can. I also enjoy when other people cram and shove information into their heads as I am, because then we can mentally and unconsciously sympathize with each other.

Branching off of the idea of the PEOPLE being the greatest part of going to your local bookstore, there’s a sort of silent, unofficial system of trust that encompasses the whole building. Or at least, I really hope there is….

Initially, when I had to use the bathroom but was too lazy to pack up all of my books and pencils and paper and other items, I debated whether or not I should just do it, or just trust that the man sitting in front of me reading a political book would have the common sense to watch my things. In the end, my laziness ended up winning, and I left all my things there, except I sprinted to the bathroom and back. But this happened twice again that day, after the old man had left, and so then I started to slowly get used to leaving my stuff, with only a lingering of a feeling of distrust. That man though? Before he left, HE WENT TO THE BATHROOM! He quietly said 4 words that so simply and effectively communicated the message to me that I should watch his things, and also the underlying sense of trust that each person acquired when they walked into the B&N doors: “You will be here?” A heavy accent, and that’s all it took me to never feel any doubt about leaving my belongings unattended during a quick trip to the bathroom. Who knows? This might all turn out to be only in my head, and come back to bite me when I come back to find my phone, my books, and (essentially) KNOWLEDGE gone.

SIGH. The wonderful world of Barnes and Nobles. :) Have I convinced you? Is Barnes and Nobles NOT a wonderful place to go? Or maybe you something that has continually irked you? I can’t think of anything, but if you can, I would love to know what! Thanks for reading!

4 comments

  1. Pingback: September Favorites 2015 | Catherine Zhang
  2. Pingback: Libraries Are Magical Too |

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