Serendipity and bookshops

Calcutta Chromosome’s recent post on what makes a great bookshop (The Bookstore Mojo) makes for thought-provoking reading.

After I’d stopped wanting to visit all the bookshops he recommended, I got to thinking about what makes a great bookshop for me.

An enthusiastic second-hand bookshop habit, combined with an aversion to new book prices, meant I used to (used to? Ok, still do, just less frequently) browse bookshops without any intention of buying anything – always promising myself I’d work my way through the piles of second-hand books first. So instead of buying I often just enjoy the feeling of calm that being surrounded by books always engenders.

Up to a point I just like going to a bookshop, any bookshop to look around. There’s always something to consider adding to a future reading list.

But beyond that, which of Diptakirti’s suggested reasons of size, staff, savings or serendipity make one shop stand out from another?

For me it’s serendipity. This is often, but not always, a product of size. And it’s led to Nelson Algren in Dublin, Richard Brautigan and Allen Ginsberg in Boston and a lovely hardback volume of Sunil Gangopadhyay poems from the Central Cottage Industries Emporium on Chowringhee Road, Kolkata.

Now I realise that just as music often has such strong personal associations for people, perhaps so too do books.

Where you bought them, where you read them, where they are stored and, ultimately most important of all, the effect the writing has on you.

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