A child visiting the shop told me that her best book is The Stones of Green Knowe. It’s an old book because the pages are yellow and bent and it was her mother’s book. It’s about ghosts. It’s a straight up and down book and is about ghosts.
When she told me this, she made straight up and own motions with her hands. The ghosts are good and come forward in time to meet Tolly. It’s about Saxons. She said that it’s an up and down book like stones are. And that you could not forget Roger because for one thing he was a ghost and also he was old and from the olden days in history, one thousand years ago when there were stone castles. That’s how good this book was. It stayed in your mind like a stone or a pot.
Linda and Monique are mother and child. Today they are here at the shop, it is so cold, it is grey and dark but inside is warm and the coloured lights are at their best. Linda sits and reads, she is a still pool, just sitting and reading.
Monique, though, moves from shelf to shelf, from book to book, she examines pages and covers and the last page of everything. She is wearing thongs, not feeling the cold, she circles the table with the blue lights around the lantern and she gently touches this string of sapphire light. Then she puts the Redwall volumes back in order. Now she has The Clockwork Prince and she reads standing up. Linda reads on.
Other customers move quietly around them, the mother, a still pool, but busy, I don’t know what she is reading. The daughter darting again from treasure to treasure, examining the top shelves, the bottom stacks, the fallen books, the crooked books and ones that have ended up under the table. She reads the picture books, carefully and thoughtfully. Linda reads on, a still pool.
Monique reads standing on one foot, her head bent slightly to one side, a smaller pool, but already becoming a bigger one. Now she sits cross legged amongst science fiction and is she looking at Ursula Le Guin.
Linda reads on, a still pool.
Photography by Charlie Devoli