Day 265: Reading room

"Madonna and Child with Book" by Raphael.
"Madonna and Child with Book" by Raphael.

Libraries are my favourite places on the planet – next to chocolate shops. No, wait … libraries first, then chocolate shops. Closely followed by a store here in Toronto that sells nothing but ribbon.

But somewhere in that top list comes book stores. There’s one in particular I’ve mentioned before and I returned today for the first time in months.

It’s a rough-and-tumble place tucked underground at the subway — perfect for commuters looking for a good read. Last time, I think I described the proprietor as a cross between Woody Allen and Barack Obama.

He’s tall, dark and nerdy, wears thick-lensed specs and a pilled wool cardigan. He rarely stocks new books, mostly remaindered titles and lots of reference volumes and children’s books. But in an era of big box book warehouses, it’s a pleasure to hang out in a place where the owner just plain loves books.

I wasn’t planning to buy anything today, just wanted to take a look. And as I stood there browsing, a university student came in, walked right past the shelves, sought him out and asked, “What do you recommend today?” After chatting for a minute about the types of books she liked best, he recommended a few, she took one and left smiling.

He then walked up to me and I thought he was going to ask if I needed help. Instead, he said, “How was your day today?”

I almost dropped the book I was holding. We talked for a minute, he told me about living in Australia and explained how they solved the wild boar overpopulation problem there. Did not have anything to add on that topic.

Before I knew it, I was buying not one but two books, not for myself, of course (you knew there had to be a good deed in here somewhere, right?).

But the receivers of these books won’t have me to thank for the gesture … only Woody Obama.


2 thoughts on “Day 265: Reading room

  1. Great story!

    It’s refreshing to hear when a store owner doesn’t hit you up to make a buy or even offer help. That gets so old. I really liked the idea of the open minded student asking what the bookstore owner recommended. That must be just as refreshing to hear for the bookstore owner, somebody so open minded as to trust their judgment. Who would know better?

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