Why I Love Bookshops
There’s a scene in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast where the Beast gives Belle a library. Since I saw that movie as a child, not only have I wished for someone who loves me so much they’ll give me a library, but I’ve also been fascinated by any place that is home to hundreds and thousands of books. Belle influenced me hugely because she taught me that books aren’t just pages with words on them, strung together to make some kind of interesting story. They’re doorways.
A single book, on its own, is a pretty spectacular thing. It’s like Alice’s rabbit hole or the wardrobe to Narnia. It’s a doorway to another world and home to people more fantastical than the real world can hold. A book can completely take you out of one place and plonk you down in another without you ever having to leave the house. (The proof is in the fact that the only reason I know about the rabbit hole and the wardrobe to Narnia is because I travelled through book portals to find those places myself!) So I always find it quite overwhelming when I walk into a bookshop that’s filled with hundreds of doorways, hundreds of worlds and hundreds of characters I could potentially explore and get to know. Where do you even begin?!
Being a working actress, I often find myself in central London between shows and auditions with a bit of time on my hands. So out comes my iPhone and without even thinking, I start ‘Google Mapping’ the nearest Waterstones because there is nothing I love more than walking into a bookshop and feeling that overwhelming sense of adventure and possibility flood over me. Walking into a bookshop, for me, is the equivalent of walking into a travel agency – except travelling to each destination consists of me buying a book (and using my Waterstones card, which is seriously worn out now!) and opening it up to the first page. It takes much less time and effort than a long-haul flight and often the destinations are far better than anything this planet has to offer!
Bookshops have been and always will be my favourite place to pass time. The only downside is the trauma I go through when deciding which book I’m going to purchase and wondering what I’m going to miss out on when I decide to put a book back on the shelves! It breaks my heart a little bit and I can almost hear the characters calling out to me as I walk out of the shop – but I always leave with the promise that I’ll be back as soon as I’ve finished the book I decided to buy and will give them a chance to tell me their story.
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