They came in together yesterday and looked around confidently. I could tell they approved. Connoisseurs of bookshops always enter with full sails. ‘Here we are…’
Then they pause, broadsided by higher authorities. An enormous spiteful Pepys. Tintin. Dickens, Pratchett, Adams. Sendak, Steinbeck, Atwood, Dai Sijie, Garner. Proust. The Quincunx and Ibrahim Nasrallah on the front shelf. Anais Nin. All out the front to help me meet the ego. Authorities, like me, pretend to have read everything. But we bloody haven’t.
The mother and daughter approved and warmed immediately. There was a burst of a Christmas excitement.
I want this.
I heard you. I heard you.
The mother came up to the counter and leaned in comfortably to tell me softly about What She Read. Outlander. It took over her eyes. She had to look away so she could see the plot and tell some of it to me.
The daughter kept on sorting. She loved the World Classics. She loved Lewis Carroll. She’d read Treasure Island. It was violent. She loved Charles Dickens. She loved hefty classics in small dense volumes. Red covers.
I love these.
I love these. I want this.
I have that…
The mother ordered copies of the Outlander series. The daughter looked pleased.
‘Then I’ll read them. After you.’
‘We have too many books.’ (We all do).
Then they gathered themselves together, paid for their books, moved out, hanging onto each other and talking about Game of Thrones.
Mother and Daughter at Table by Jean Edouard Vuillard