My Bookstore

My favorite place to write is at the local bookstore. Sure, I could write at home, but there are too many distractions. Writing in a cafe can be difficult due to the noise level and it carries the prerequisite of purchasing a coffee or other such item, a habit I’ve been trying to significantly restrict. The library does not sell nor allow snacks or beverages, and at times it can be downright intimidating.

At my bookstore (did I just say my bookstore? Why, yes I did. That’s how I feel about it.), I can settle in to my table by the window, plug in the laptop or whip out a notebook and write away while noshing on my brought from home snacks and beverages.

At my bookstore I can focus. It’s familiar enough to feel homey, yet there are no nagging obligations. I can turn off the phone, I don’t have to look at the dirty dishes, if the bathroom needs to be cleaned, it will be done by someone other than me.

And my bookstore has air conditioning. It’s been in the 90s lately, and this little girl from Alaska has no air conditioning in her apartment and is having some difficulty managing the heat gracefully.

I went to my bookstore to escape the heat and get some work done and discovered that my bookstore is being remodeled. Books piled up on carts rather than bookshelves. The shelves pushed around in strange configurations. A huge 3000 square foot area is cleared out and empty save a few piles of rubbish.

This huge cleared out area is the area in which my table used to sit next to my window, where I would occasionally look up from my writing to watch the toddlers play in the playground outside. The window had paper taped over it, completely blocking the view. Many of the tables were piled in a corner, others were pressed into service as book display. The chairs were lined up along the railing looking out into the walkway like the chairs lined up outside of the principles office.


That’s the word of the day. I was discombobulated. I came to my bookstore for relief and found more frustration. I stood there looking around, wondering if I should sit in one of the chairs and wait for the principle to call me, or figure something else out.

I spent some time wandering around the bookstore and marveling at the way the books had been rearranged. I found Accounting and Bookkeeping books put away in the nature section (In my mind, accounting and bookkeeping both go against nature). In the Database/SQL Server section I found Breaking into Acting for Dummies, Three Theban Plays by Sophocles, and Pygmalion. In Regional Gardening, I was intrigued by The Boss of You: Everything a Woman Needs to Know to Start, Run and Maintain Her Own Business. I grabbed The Boss of You and retired to the store’s cafe.

I usually avoid my bookstore’s cafe because it is obscenely loud and it can be difficult to get a good seat. The baristas are curiously slow; so slow in fact that I find myself staring at them, not impatiently, I’m just completely mesmerized. There is no hesitation or confusion in the baristas, each movement is long and slow and languid and completely controlled. When she calls out my iced latte after setting it down in front of me, I’m startled back to this reality. I still need to find a table.

I sit at the one empty table, pull out my notebook and pen, and crack open The Boss of You to see what I think of the inside of this book. While perusing the table of contents I feel eyes on me. I notice over the top of the book that the elderly man with very long fingernails at the next table was staring at me while pit mining his nostrils. He stared intently and worked intently for a while, looking away only long enough to admire what he had produced so far, wipe it on the table, and then return to mining and staring. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. Then he went back to reading his magazines. I immediately swore I would never read another magazine (we’ll see how long that lasts) and from now on I will bring hand sanitizer to my bookstore with me.

Any hope of concentrating was gone. I left the book on the table and took my iced latte and notebook and went home. The Boss of You will have to be read and reviewed another day.


Seattle writer, Judy Schwartz Haley, blogs about raising a toddler while battling cancer, finishing a degree, and fending off ninjas. Also, she needs more coffee.
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