I wrote this original post on December 30th, 2015, at the end of my first six months in the shop. I didn’t, back then, realize how valuable these days were, or how important those first customers would become. I know that these days will return, and hopefully everyone with them. But it will be different now. What is important has changed.
It is hot today. Customers are exhilarated and expansive because Christmas is over, and the Hard Work is done.
A lady who suffers terribly from insomnia tells me that insomnia is lucky, as it gives her time to read. Her husband said that he has no time to read, never has had. He looked at the volumes of Ngaio Marsh she had set aside to buy. He said he doesn’t know where his time goes these days. She told him that it has probably gone to the pub.
A little girl asked for Harry Potter but her mother reminded her that there would be no time to read it. So best leave it.
Kerry said he can get through one thriller a night. I asked Robert how long it might take him to get through The Gnostic Mysteries and he said he will never be done with that book, even after he dies he will still be reading it. And when the government discovers his body still reading it, they had better be worried.
A little boy said he could read a Geronimo Stilton in five minutes, but his sister said that this was a lie.
I have time to think about Henry James.
Fiona picked up her order and said that there is no technology yet that can track what happens to the human mind when we are reading. It can track the activity of the brain but not of the mind.
I tried to imagine what my mind was doing when I read Darius Bell and the Crystal Bees.
Robert, who is still here, said that if the government knew what his mind was thinking when he was reading they would put the watch dogs onto him. We asked him what he is reading (besides The Gnostic Mysteries) and he said The Greek Myths by Robert Graves. This is so he can find out what’s going on in the world. Better to read The Greek Myths or Homer to keep up with things because everything in the newspapers is an insult, including the weather.
There were some new visitors from interstate. One was feeling hilarious because he’d found a copy of The Unseen Academicals, which is the Exact Book he is up to:
‘I’ve got so many books to read, so many, just so many, we are always just buying other ones. I sit there in the caravan park,and I’m just laughing out loud, it’s so funny. I will have to read for ever. I think it’s possible, that’s why we get so many. I am collecting every book by Terry Pratchett, I read them more than once and they actually GET FUNNIER.
Then at the end of the day, a small boy asked me for a Christmas book that had been in the window last week. He saw it and wanted it, and when I brought out the stories that were left he pointed to a heavy green Faber anthology of Christmas stories. His mother told him that it was a book for adults. His father told him to leave it until he was older. But he gave me all his money and whispered that it was the one he wanted. He defended his choice patiently to his parents, told them that this book would NOT run out of pages. The other books there would run out of pages. He was six years old, and he convinced them; he got his book.
“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” Annie Dillard