My life is not long enough to do this reading that I want….


“Renaldo the Fox or Reynard the Fox….I am sure that was the fellow I read about when I was a boy. Something about cherries and this fox.” This customer stood for a long time trying to retrieve this memory of his long ago favourite book.

Another lady was also telling me how amazed she was that her daughter chose a book: ‘I can’t believe she did, she usually has to wait until something really gets to her, it takes ages and ages.’ The child had chosen a second volume of a series that she had never read before. I was respectful and did not question her choice.

I was urged to watch the series Game of Thrones before I committed to the books as I would be better off that way.

Two children stood and stared upward at the Harry Potters for a long time. Their father said that he just needed to get something for himself first and then he would get the Harries. They stayed there, quietly watching their books that were stacked on the highest shelf.

A young woman brought up a volume of Poe and George Eliot’s Silas Marner. She said: my life is not long enough to do this reading that I want.

A child wrote carefully for me on a slip of paper: The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams with good pictures please.

The boys waiting for the Harry Potters finally got them and they carefully separated their father’s Stephen King choices and placed them far away from the Harry Potters, at the other end of the counter.

Outside, passing tradesmen told each other to go get a book. They laughed and told each other to go read the Julia Gillard, the helicopter lady.

A man said it is surreal to find book shops still open, especially two in one town.

Margaret rang for a copy of Coffin Road. She said they are underwater and flattened by the wind where she lives.

A young man said the Asterix books are now printed on the wrong paper and a man swung a biography of Jack Nicholson to the counter and quickly paid, he said, in case somebody else got it.

I was asked for The Miniaturist and The Forger’s Shadow and advised to read The Historian.

I was asked for the dates of Antique Fair and for Gangsta Granny by David Williams and I was reminded that Thursday felt like summer but more rain was coming.

The day is ending. I will go home and get back to The Arabian Nights, which are colourful and violent and began with a long introduction which I skipped. Robert said he has the most astounding volumes of these, in a slip case and rabidly expensive but were beautiful enough at the time to throw caution. He also said: there’s one good rainbow over Woodchester, a proper arc.

Margaret left her bag right in the doorway when she stopped to tell me about her reading group that is doing Red Dog by Louis De Bernieres ‘who is not even Australian!’ (They are just back from Europe and dying to get back to their bookshelves.)

Sunday is cold and raining hard and people are dashing past the door to get to the bakery. Some people stopped and considered Mao’s Last Dancer through the window; peering through the glass and shouting over the rain something about the book.

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