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Bookstores, Silence, and Solitude

Stacks By Kirby Gladstein

Tonight I did something that I haven’t done in a long time – I took a walk, by myself, and browsed through a bookstore. Alone.

The happiest place on Earth

Not a lot of people know about my book publishing background or the fact that the happiest place on Earth is getting lost in the stacks at Powell’s City of Books in Portland, Oregon. Growing up that was my oasis. I would get absorbed in the fiction section for hours and emerge with a tower filled with an army of protagonists. When I was in college Powell’s was my solace, my break, my habit. I went there to discover new thoughts, new ideas, and meet new characters that I would take home in perfectly bound, 288-page escapes from real-life.

Books breathe things into your life that you never thought you were missing. They give you a perspective that you weren’t looking for and never knew that you needed.

And that smell of paper and wooden shelves. And the low hum of voices, pages turning, and shoes clomping, delicately, on the wooden floor, trying to be impossibly silent.

Silence and being alone yet surrounded by endless opportunities and new pathways, that’s the feeling I appreciate the most about books and bookstores.

When was the last time you ‘turned things off’ and went dark?

And I’m talking more than unplugging, but literally not communicating with anyone other that that who is inside of your head or a book away.

Not in the crazy kind of way, but the solitude kind of way.

When was the last time you did that and it was okay?

Photo Credit: Kirby Gladstein

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