The best things to have in a bookshop by Claudia Kirby, aged 9

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  1. Good books for reading.
  2. Teddy bears around the shop to hold the books.
  3. A few chairs for sitting in case you don’t want to stand up reading.
  4. Bookmarks for the books so you know where you’re up to.
  5. Business cards to say who you are.
  6. Decorations that are awesome, like peacocks.
  7. Bookends to hold stuff up.
  8. Old interesting books for people who like vintage.
  9. Books with interesting titles such as A Series of Unfortunate Events.
  10. A bookshop looks good with some fairy lights.

 Claudia Kirby, aged 9

Claudia

Claudia

Claudia is interested in A Series of Unfortunate Events, although disappointed that volume two is missing. She has a feeling about these books that is different from how she feels about other books. These books give her an entirely different feeling. She has read a lot of books in her eight years.

Today she knows that something will be different about these books. She is drawing from the vast and complex knowledge of her own reading, and she is confident. And although there is not sufficient vocabulary available for her to clarify her predictions, she remains at the counter, attempting several times to gently illuminate, for me, the singular knowing that happens when you look at the cover of a book.

As she leaves, she is pointing, pointing through the door, at the warm day, and says: I have been looking for these books for all of my life.

 

The Slow and Careful Regard of Things

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A man bought Julia Gillard’s My Story because he had just met her the other day walking her dog at the Seacliff Caravan Park. He said: I just looked up and there she was. And so now, I am going to read her book…I bet it’ll be good.

He left here, with his book, tremendously pleased with his good fortune.

Peter told me that the difference between Kingston and Robe is that Kingston is sincere. I waited for a little more of the story but there wasn’t any. Then he told me that the Kingston Council didn’t even deserve a jetty.

Many details are shared with me in the shop, all of these things have a careful place in the lives of their owners.

I was told that reading Dickens is like pulling teeth, bloody hell. This man said that in one book, Dickens takes three pages just to describe a grey coat and that this is unnecessary. He spent a long time in the Science Fiction, only coming out to tell me that Isaac Asimov is not a good as people say.

One man browsed quietly for a long time and then came over to say that he once read only Famous Five and Biggles. He said that I would have read Pollyanna and What Katy Did. I said that I didn’t. He said ha ha ha ha.

A lady told me how The Other Grandma gave her a voucher at Christmas time for a clothes shop and it was a plus size clothes shop and she was hurt.

My friend has a friend who told me her grandchild is growing existentially.

(But I did not know what she meant). She came looking for some books to read on life in Ireland. She wanted to be a grandmother that did lots of things. Lots and lots of things. She seemed very anxious and determined to make sure she did enough things. I thought why is it that all women think they have never done enough things.

A small girl brought volumes two, three and four of The Series of Unfortunate Events to the counter. She spread them out so that I could see that there was no volume one. She and I both looked at the gap left by the missing volume.

In the letters of Robert Browning to Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Robert urges Elizabeth to consider the slow and careful regard of her health and life….”For what cannot be achieved this way?”

Photography by Rubee Hood