by Irene Xu, Davis
My favorite places outside of my home are bookstores, all kinds of them, from the ones that are big and showy, right in the middle of a busy business street and with lots of people reading a book or enjoying a cup of coffee, to the ones located in the end of a small and quiet road, run by one smiling manager behind the checkout counter and with only a few frequent visitors every day. I like reading paper books because of their special smell and the feeling of excitement when I open a new book and am about to start a new trip to a wonderland. Bookstores usually provide lots of books from a large range of categories, a warm environment to read unlike the serious-looking libraries, and a fun and simple place to hang out with friends and have some great memories.
The most important things inside a bookstore are the books. Usually, big bookstores have lots of different books from all different genres. They have several of my favorite manga and detective/mystery stories from my favorite author Keigo Higashino. Several of my favorite books that are written by him are Salvation of a Saint, White Night, and Who Kills Her. They are all fun to read and interesting. The endings are always surprising yet reasonable. There are always little hints here and there in the books, but you won’t notice them the first time you read. However, when you reread the whole book after you read to the end of the book and know the truth, you will probably be thinking “how could I not notice such an important clue when I read it before!” When I was first reading Salvation of a Saint, there were tons of little pieces of scattered information that I found weird but didn’t successfully put together. However, when I knew the real criminal at the end of the book, suddenly everything made sense and this clear timeline of the crime appeared in my mind. This kind of experience always makes me want to read more books and explore different stories. I still remember the time I first read this book. I picked it up from a bookshelf near the bookstore’s cafeteria, read the title and the summary on the back page, and immediately fell in love with this book. I even forgot to find a comfy chair to sit down on. I spent more than half an hour standing near the shelf and reading before the manager patted me on my back and told me that I could sit in the seats under sunlight for a better view. After that, I found a place to sit and put my backpack, and then continued finishing the book in an afternoon and drowning in the peaceful environment in that bookstore.
One of my favorite things about bookstores is that they are kind of like libraries, which have lots of books and are filled with people who also like reading. However, I prefer bookstores over libraries because of one major difference in the environment. Libraries are always so serious-like and quiet, which is good for studying and reviewing for exams, but when I am trying to read a novel, this environment seems a bit too serious. But in bookstores, they always play some soft piano or violin music and even some relaxing pop songs once in a while. I like sitting near the cafeteria in the bookstore. There are lots of sofas and small tables for you to put your stuff on. The best thing is that it is near the glass walls of the bookstore and the warm sunlight shines directly in, which makes me feel like I’m bathing under the sun with a book. The decorations are mostly light brown, which give them a more relaxing and warm vibe, just like nature. However, when I’m reading mystery books, I prefer to sit in the center section of the bookstore, where the decoration is mostly black and future-like. There are even some small lamps shooting out white lights to add to the mysterious aura of that place. When I’m reading in that section, I feel like I’m right in the middle of a futuristic game and this helps me to concentrate more on the book I am reading.
My best memories about bookstores come from the one called BoKu just outside of my weekend classes, even though it’s one of the chain stores across the whole city and is supposed to be showy and kind of splendid like the others, this one gives off a warm and delicate vibe. The first time I ever went into that place, I didn’t pay much attention and was just thinking about how I took a half hour train ride just to get to my class and that I’d better make the train ride worth it by reading some books from the new bookstore. But once I stepped into the bookstore, I immediately fell in love with it. It has the special smell of new books that includes the smell of warm ink and something else I can’t name, combined with the sweet flavors from the tea, chocolate, and snacks they sell at the cafe inside the bookstore. The bookshelves are warm brown, and even the blank spaces on the bookshelves are filled with little decorations like small book statues, metal bookends, and photos of the different drinks in the cafeteria. I told my friends about this great place I found to hang out as soon as I discovered it, and we went to BoKu Bookstore every weekend after a morning of intense problem solving. Sometimes when we don’t have classes that weekend, we still spend half an hour and come all the way from our home to there just to read and hang out. We even told our other friends who don’t take this weekend class to come with us one time. The cafeteria workers saw us and said hi to the ones they have never met before. To this day, I still have no idea how they figure out who is new to the place and who is not! One year, we all bought our New Year’s Eve’s gifts for others in the bookstores and exchanged them, just to find out that two of us bought the exact same Handbook for each other. We laughed the whole day and teased those two people for the rest of the week. Sometimes we also found practice books and prepared for our monthly exams there. This bookstore is filled with one of my happiest and favorite middle school memories.
Bookstores are fun places to read and explore different worlds and adventures in different books, enjoy reading comfortably in a not-so-serious environment, and hang out with friends to either study or relax to leave lots of warm-hearted memories. Most people’s favorite place is where they can be comfortable and peaceful and just be themselves. Some find peace in art studios, some find peace in small shops near their homes, and some may even find peace in their working areas. These vary and there’s no right answer for this question. The most important thing for everyone to remember is to enjoy their lives the best they can in their favorite places.