Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Corner Book Shop:

I miss the corner book shops. The little shops with small sections on every topic - sometimes so small that you would wonder whether you can ever find any book here.

One of my favourite such book stores is Facts and Fiction in Delhi (though I don’t know whether it still exists or not). Panels painted in green and situated at a corner of the Priya Complex, this bookstore had a wonderful feel the moment you stepped inside it. Books were stacked up in shelves and on the floor with hardly much space to move about. There was no order in which the books were placed within the sections which made browsing all the more interesting because you didn’t know what to expect next. Hours would just pass by while you read, re-read reviews at the back trying to decide which ones to leave behind. The proprietor or the manager was gruff and a man of few words but he didn’t need his computer to know whether a particular book was there in his store or not. If you asked, he would suggest you which books to pick up. Surprisingly the store had the exact type of books which you would want to pick up and many more.

In those days of no internet or rather not much use of the net, I intuitively picked up books which have made great impact on me, most of them from this corner book shop. Some of these books which I randomly picked out on my own are Into the Wild, Into thin air, Touching the Void, Brian Weiss’s Only love is Real, Horse Whisperer and many more.

It’s strange how you find the right books at the right time of your life... which I could find only at these tiny corner book shops. I don’t like the big sanitised bookstores because I don’t know from where to start and where to end and mostly they don’t have the ones which interest me. Online bookstores are great for their services and cheaper rates but you can buy only if you know what you want. No unexpected or happy discoveries here.

It’s been quite some time that I last went into such a bookstore. I have made a list of to-read books which I promptly order online one at a time. If some of these bookstores have gone out of business, then you know that I am partly to be blamed for it.