from st. andrews

img_15262“Welcome to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, Daniel.”

“When a library disappears, or a bookshop closes down, when a book is consigned to oblivion, those of us who know this place, its guardians, make sure that it gets here.  In this place, books no longer remembered by anyone, books that are lost in time, live forever, waiting for the day when they will reach a new reader’s hands.  In the shop we buy and sell them, but in truth books have no owner.”

from The Shadow of the Wind, Carlos Ruiz Zafon

I found one of those cemeteries today, at 31 Market Street in the county of Fife in St. Andrews, Scotlanimg_1523d.  From all the colorful and previously loved books in the Bouquiniste, I chose Stories from Shakespeare, told to the children by Jeanie Lang.

In the opening pages, Ms. Lang wrote:  “Some day, when you are older, you will read the real Shakespeare for yourselves.  You will know then why people call him the greatest writer that ever lived.  And then you will say: ‘The little book that I read long ago was only like a faint little pencil outline, and this is the greatest picture in all the world.'”

Stories from Shakespeareimg_1582 was published by Thomas Nelson and Sons Ltd, of London and Edinburgh, with pictures by N. M. Price and Others.  There’s no publication date, but it was given to Janis Murray for regular attendance at the Abbeyhill Methodist Sunday School for the 1947-48 Session.

Tonight, March 12, 2009, this little book reaches new hands.

the art of reading

img_12241“Bea says that the art of reading is slowly dying,

that it’s an intimate ritual,

that a book is a mirror that offers us only what we already carry inside us,

that when we read,

we do it with all our heart and mind…” 

Carlos Ruiz Zafon,

The Shadow of the Wind.

Reading, as well as writing, helps to bring to the surface what I’m thinking and feeling.  It helps to put into words those thoughts that are floating around unmoored.  It gives voice and shape to the amorphous.


At the end of The Hours, in the Acknowledgments, Michael Cunningham thanks Three Lives and Company for being in existence. He describes this bookstore as “…a sanctuary and, to me, the center of the universe.  It has for some time been the most reliable place to go when I need to remember why novels are still worth the trouble they take to write.”

It’s the real books–made of paper and ink–that I find in libraries, bookstores, and on my own shelves, that give me this same feeling of being worth the trouble they take to write.

Carlos Ruiz Zafon, writes, “Every book, every volume you see here, has a soul.  The soul of the person who wrote it and of those who read it and lived and dreamed with it.  Every time a book changes hands, every time someone runs his eyes down its pages, its spirit grows and strengthens.”  from The Shadow of the Wind

It’s the real books that create this feeling of a hallowed place–this feeling of sanctuary.  It’s sitting among them, holding them, smelling them, running your finger down the soft creamy pages…