Barnes and Memories

Walking through the doors, the air was filled with the aroma of fresh pages and brewing coffee. The intertwining smells seemed to relax my tense shoulders, whisk away my worries, and prepare my mind for a hunt.

I darted towards the ‘Teen Fiction’ section, a sucker for a good teen romance and sci-fi/fantasy combination. Picking up a fresh book, opening the pages, and hearing the spine make that creaking sound that all books do, put a grin on my face. My sister was meeting with her math tutor, so I knew my time was limited to find my new reading selection.

There were about five bookcase-rows of unexplored territory. I took my time. I started at one end, scanning the top shelf first, picking up books that seemed intriguing, reading the blurb on the back–and if it piqued my interest–I jotted it down on my notepad and returned the book to the shelf. This process repeated for all of the shelves and almost all of the rows.

When my sister was done with her tutorial, we grabbed some Starbucks coffee and returned home, my list of books snug in my back pocket. As soon as we entered the house, I darted to my tablet and started looking up each book that I discovered in the bookstore. I re-read the descriptions, wrote down the reviews, and placed the books in ranking order of which ones I liked the best.

The next week, I found the number one ranking book that I jotted in my notepad, and I dove into the smooth, untampered and fresh pages of the story. The ones that I liked, I begged my mom to let me purchase.

Little did I know the aromas of fresh pages and brewing coffee were going to become a distant memory. I didn’t know that seven years later, I would forget what it was like to read for the mere pleasure of my mind. Our classes had forced us to read books that sucked the energy out of imagination and creativity. The concept of ‘reading’ and ‘for fun’ was no longer associated in the same sentence.

In a lot of ways, it is hard not to see ourselves as a forgotten bookstore; a place filled with so much knowledge, excitement, and rampant opportunities, now being seen as unadventurous, old, and unexplored. People no longer have time to read for fun, to open themselves back up to a story on the page, or a sci-fi/fantasy love triangle between characters who possess special super-human abilities.

The fresh pages are now waiting to be turned, waiting for the spine to creak open, and anticipating a new mind filled with unashamed imagination.

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