What is missing from many of our days is a true sense that we are enjoying the lives we are living. It is difficult to experience moments of happiness if we are not aware of what it is we genuinely love. We must learn to savor small, authentic moments that bring us contentment. – Sarah Ban Breathnach, Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy
Some Saturdays, we get up and head over to the local coffee shop on our town square. My husband orders coffee, a cinnamon roll, and a slice of breakfast casserole. I take my Optavia breakfast fueling along with me and order black coffee. We sit at a table near the fireplace, where we chat and enjoy the meanderings of those, like us, ambling about town on a Saturday morning.
When he has extra errands to run that will take an hour or so, he’ll drop me off at the back door of the bookstore across the square, where the comfy chairs are circled around an oval coffee table, and I’ll gather a handful of books, grab a Cherry Coke Zero from the store fridge, and throw my feet up and read.
The place is magical from the moment you walk into the store. The smell of books greets you, and the floors creak under your feet as you browse the shelves. On the walls, there are watercolors and photographs by local artists for sale, and on the counters there is also handmade jewelry and other gifts. The new books are up front, along with the book club books that are lined up according to the month they’ll be discussed. The heart of the store is the used books – $3 for paperbacks, and $5 for hardbacks. And the lighting is warm and welcoming, giving the perfect ambiance for comfortable reading. Sometimes they play slow jazz.
I go straight to the travel and adventure books to see if there is anything obscure that grabs me, and I begin my book stack there. I mostly hang out in the nonfiction, perusing the shelves and searching the spines for titles that spark my interest. When I have one armful’s stack, I glance at the fiction and keep moving toward my chair – the one with the matching ottoman. I plop down, throw my feet up, pop my Coke top, and take a long swig as I begin with first glances at the books. What’s in the Table of Contents? When was it written? What does the back cover say? What’s the format, and do I like it? Is the print big enough? What do the pages feel like? Does it smell real?
Two members of my writing group have recently books – Starting From Scratch, about teaching poetry, and Kitchen Table Wisdom, about womens’ wisdom from ancestors with answers. I order these, and then I chat with two of the owners. Karen leads the writing group, and we share what we’re writing. I meet her daughter and grandson. I speak briefly with another owner, Chris, who is headed out for lunch, but always asks what I’m reading – so I tell her I’m reading around the United States, and I’ve just finished Stephen King’s On Writing for the New England states and am narrowing down my choice for the Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, and Wyoming states. I’m leaning towards Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore.
Today, I narrow it down to two books: The Iditarod Fact Book and The Happiness of Pursuit. And then I wonder: How am I going to meet my goal of getting down to two and a half bookcases if I bring more home? I think there is math involved: if I get rid of more than I take in, will it work? Somebody who can do math, please – tell me that it will. These are small, authentic moments that bring me contentment – – and books are what I genuinely love.