I was brave or foolish enough to brave the 250+ store mall in the centre of the city – The Eaton Centre – this Black Friday. Canadian Black Friday is not by any means the American Black Friday. There are no fist fights, the line ups are orderly, and the customers are civil. But, that said, things do get a little busy. More than busy, they can get overwhelming for a book nerd like me. Throw in the book nerd wife, and it’s double the anguish.
I need new glasses and decided that a “1/2 price on lenses” sale was enough to get me out and to the optometrist. In the mall. It’s been a year and a half since I was last checked, and my prescription had changed. I knew that by the fact that I could barely read anymore. We arrived at the optometrist at 11:30 and snagged an appointment for 2pm. We had a long wait. In a big mall. On Black Friday.
That’s when we went to the big Indigo store in the Eaton Centre.
We go into bookstores all the time, but prefer the smaller, quieter and often quirkier used bookstores. Being in Indigo, during a mad shopping day, was an eye-opener. But not in the ewww-I-hate-people sense. It was an eye-opener as in I-have-found-a-refuge sense.
I don’t recall ever feeling quite like this. Yes, I am a middle-aged woman prone to forgetting basic things like nouns, but this feeling… I don’t think I have felt it quite like this before. I was blissful. We were among people who wanted books, clean books, new books, unmouldy and fresh books. They were there to buy books for other people, to figure out “what would Samantha want,” to give, in generosity and the spirit of the upcoming Christmas season.
Refreshing, to say the least. Most bookstores that we frequent are full of people who want books for themselves. Like what we buy, the purchases are largely selfish and, I don’t know… psychically slow.
In a used bookstore you take time to reflect on each book. Do I want this book? How does it feel in my hands? Will this impact my life?
At Indigo during a buying frenzy, most people don’t actually seem to think about themselves, but about the recipients – others, not themselves.
It was glorious to be around people who wanted to share books with other people.
We, however, did not do that. We looked for books for ourselves. Were we being naughty instead of nice? Maybe. Probably. Don’t know. Found many books I want. Don’t care. It seemed joyous and alive and celebratory and mainstream and booky all at once. It was a refuge from being insular, quiet, weird. Short-lived, but an exhilarating feeling.
I do know, if I could experience that even once a week – a month – I would be in heaven.
Here are my choices. It’s like Christmas come early. If only I could buy the refuge as easily as the books. Maybe all I need to do is actually go to the bookstore to find it. Huh, I wonder if it’s really just that easy…
(sorry for the blurry pix)