I think its strange how the concept of the nerdy girl in the bookstore – the one with her nose in a book and several under her arm, the one who strokes the pages nostalgically and holds each book she picks up as though it were an ancient document – somehow unites so many women in a common identity even though we must all be completely different people. Somehow, there must be some part of us that unites decisively. I don’t think it’s even the part where we all value learning. It’s more than that, at least. It’s the introspective nature we share, our sensitivity, to some degree social ostracism on account of our diverging approach to knowledge – the idea that there is more to know before we “know”. We pick up books with delicacy because we expect it to contain a new perspective on life that we might be able to identify with, learn from or be inspired by. The book is a living thing, a powerful object, a meaningful totem of someone who is undoubtedly attempting to reach out to us through the paper. That’s the girl in the bookstore. Whether naturally quiet or gregarious, we are the women defined by our open-hearted, introverted, reflective nature, arousing curiosity and emanating an air of mystery and intrigue because we defy the stereotype of girls as flippant, erratic, garrulous, insecure and shallow. These days we ourselves, as the “girls in the bookstore”, have become our own stereotype and I am more than pleased with it!
Still, there must be uniqueness to each girl who proudly owns this stereotype. I am the ‘girl in the bookstore’ who defines herself by the isolation of perspective and values that has made it so impossible to connect with another human being. I am the girl who seeks books to find inside an open invitation to share another’s most personal experiences to sooth the trauma of never feeling understood in real life. Books have always been treasure, artefacts of the past in their own right and more powerful than other items because nothing can speak so much, so profoundly, as a book. No ordinary artefact can communicate beyond its fabric but a book can.
So, the older it is the more precious the book is. My first trip to the British Museum and the British Library in London was like one hundred Christmases all compounded into one! I pored over the volumes of old texts I could access, gently and deliberately running my fingers down the edges of the yellowed pages and feeling an immense surge of love and emotion at the knowledge that the fingers of readers centuries preceding me had done just the same thing, in the same way, on the same page, taking in the same words as me. Connection.
There are so many things I should say to introduce this blog and who I am, why this blog is entitled “The Girl In the Bookstore”, but here is my first word. Connection. Because in my heart, I feel that the girls in the bookstores – those quiet, beautiful, ethereal female spirits who glide along book aisles, peer briefly at you from over their glasses in secret moments before looking away, who take their time and lose time often without resentment. They are the ones most in search of understanding – of others, of themselves, and of the world.