In Between Tall Shelves of Books, I am Home

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I only tried to eat out by myself maybe three or four or five times; eating isn’t something that one must do alone. It is understandable to do this when you’re living by yourself, but if there’s a chance to be with a family member or a friend, be with them. I’d like to believe that this is the reason why tables in restaurants or shops always have two seats and not just one.

Like what a cross-stitched text said in my Tita’s home, “The best memories are made around the table.” Truly, it is after we eat and the dishes are dirty with the food we partook together that the stories come rushing in.

However, since I am alone most of the time, I learn how to eat by myself. As much as possible, i do not eat out, because there hasn’t been a place that I could comfortably be just myself. I can’t stay there too for such a long time like how others do. It just isn’t for me, I guess. I tried to just draw on my sketchbooks, but I feel so self-conscious.

Which is why when I just go to the mall, the only places I visit (and dwell in) are the bookstores (there is the exception of the grocery, of course!) Ever since I was a child, my Mom and Dad would take me to bookstores. We would joke that even if I actually did grow up buying from National Bookstore, I still don’t have a Laking National card. (Lumaki na nga sa National, pero wala pa ring Laking National card. Haha!)

It is my safe place, just as our home and this little nest where I live in are. It is the refuge in which I can be myself at my own pace. I can gaze at the books, touch the spines, go back over and over to a certain shelf, and never get tired. It is life, it is life, it is therapy, it is a comforting friend.

When I am in a bookstore, I can be myself. It simply comforts me. Likewise, books are friends always and forever. On our way back to the Philippines, my hand-carry was heavy because of the books I found during our trip.

Amber Unicorn | 2101 S Decatur Blvd #14, Las Vegas, Nevada 89102

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Jango introduced me to Amber Unicorn in Las Vegas where you can find secondhand books. It reminds me of Booksale, another bookstore here in the Philippines where you can find pre-loved books at affordable prices. The place was small with tall and short bookshelves, and it feels warm and inviting for the weary traveler. A kind old couple gleefully welcomes you and offer their assistance in finding you the books you are looking for. A bespectacled man with kind eyes helped me find Madeleine L’Engle’s books.

Barnes and Noble

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On another day, Jango and Kuya John C accompanied me to the Barnes and Noble near Kuya John C’s school. It was huge, and it reminded me of Fullybooked! It had a music section too, which sadly, I wasn’t able to visit. I was hoping to find Switchfoot’s Fading West. If we had the whole day, I would have asked to stay there and sit in one corner just as every person who finds solace in books would do!

The Upstart Crow Bookstore & Coffeehouse | Seaport Village, 835 W Harbor Dr, San Diego, California 92101

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Meanwhile, there’s The Upstart Crow Bookstore and Coffee House in Seaport Village, San Diego. This one had an Edgar Allan Poe feel to it. Maybe it’s the crow, evermore? And I love how it looks like a quaint little house from this entrance!

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Anyway, I’ve always had this dream of starting my own cafe/restaurant with a book store/library in it. When I realized that the Upstart Crow was like the one I envisioned, I was struck with joy and surprise. I think I could stay in here for the whole afternoon, but we still had a lot to do afterwards. The staircase had inspiring words written on them, lots of new books I wasn’t familiar with, the second floor was filled with children’s books, and there were several novelty items and little trinkets everywhere you look.

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It’s such a homey place. I’d love to open up a place where people can feel comfortable and at home just eating healthy food and reading a book or sharing a story with people they are with. (On a side note, I love how they had Little Golden Books in their kids’ section on the second floor! It reminded me of the ones that my Mom and Dad used to give me when I was a child.)

The Last Bookstore | 453 S Spring St., Los Angeles, California 90013

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Lastly is The Last Bookstore in downtown LA. I’m thankful for Kuya Romar for taking the time to find it for me prior our stay in LA. I found out about this place before just here in Tumblr, and I’m glad I was able to visit it last January 17.

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I love how all the bookstores we’ve visited make you feel at home and read a book in peace. The Last Bookstore had a vast space and high ceiling; I was overwhelmed by the interiors. Bookshelves around me, distorted sculptures of books, rows of more books I didn’t know, books that cost a dollar each (!), records, and galleries.

It’s like these places of books left their mark on me. I pray that the books I have found in them will leave a mark on me as well. I pray that they will house more people, travelers and locals alike, people who read and want to start reading. Bookstores are places for everyone to be at home.

Here’s to reading, here’s to learning, but I’d like to say instead: “Here’s to sharing what we have read and learned.” It is not what we know that matters – it is what we have done with what we know that matters.

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