Writing 101 – A Room, A Place

In response to the “Setting” writing challenge, I’m posting this.

Hopefully, I will have caught up with the challenges by tomorrow evening (I’ll post twice in one day – thank goodness for vacation leaves). In any case, here goes (and I know it’s not as good as it could be, but oh well)…

(image by Patrik Goethe)
(image by Patrik Goethe)

Forest of Shelves

If I could be anywhere in the world right now, I’d be in Fully Booked Greenhills.

From the moment my Dad first herded me and my siblings into a bookstore, I knew that I would revere them forever.

Libraries inspire reverence, but it is reverence that can be compared to the kind you feel in a Catholic Church – full of silence and stillness and awe. The way we revere books in bookstores is a lot louder, noisier – a child loudly calling for her mother to buy her the new book in a series, a gaggle of teenagers giggling quietly at the Young Adult best sellers section, the two young men discussing the merits of Brandon Sanderson’s new book, the girl in the glasses muttering to herself as she tries to locate a copy of “Holidays on Ice” by Sedaris.

I tend to wander into bookstores alone – breathing in the smell of freshly-printed paper and listening for the rustle of page leaves; eyes tracking, always tracking, the shape of letters in new spines. There’s just something about them – a sense of power, a feeling of knowledge falling into the spaces between shelves, that sings to my bones, tugs at my muscles, enchants my soul.

But when I first walked into Fully Booked in Greenhills – and meandered through it without particular direction – I felt like I became a part of a whole other world. In here, characters and narrators live for people who listen to them, have conversations with them. It’s like I entered Narnia.

It has everything I adore: the walls full of books, the collection of spines looking like the bark on trees, the cascading waterfall of page covers on shelves, the magnificent geysers and springs of bestsellers, new arrivals, and discounted items on tables. And all of the fixtures evoke dark brown wood, the kind of color that is young and old and middle-aged at the same time, while the walls are a very warm ecru. The carpets are soft but firm, and these days a ramp curves up and over like a tiny overpass to a second level where you can find more books – and more nooks where you can deposit yourselves for some reading.

If I go there on a weekday, just as it opens, when hardly anyone seems to be awake, I can watch a paler light settle on the books and shelves like a bride’s veil. I can hear the squeak of the trolley for some last-minute shelf-stocking, a sound not unlike birds chirping at the break of dawn.

I can get lost in there for hours, under a canopy of subdued light and shadow. Sometimes, I find it easy to forget that I have another home, where I have an actual bed. Every time I look around, there is always something new – even in the same visit! There might be a sci-fi book lurking in general fiction, silver-gray against more aggressive yellows and greens; or a gem of romance in business, pastel against the authoritative reds and blues.

Once I walk out (sometimes with readables, sometimes without), I feel like I’m something new – like a seedling sprouting from the earth, breathing for the first time.

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