Friday, August 1, 2014

Books, Coffee, and a Comfy Chair!

by Sofie Couch

It has been my habit on this blog to take an old book, slice it, dice it, and turn it into type-faced julienned fries. But not this month! Nope. I've been up to my usual antics and this month, I decided to follow a different sparkly distraction.

I OPENED A BOOK STORE!!!! (Kinda ... sorta.)

It has always been a dream of mine to have a little book store. Well, maybe not so much a dream, as a necessity. Maybe it's just that I know my eventual demise will come via a mountain of books. (Picture it. Some day my husband will come home and where there was once a precariously stacked, teetering mountain of books, there will be instead, a heap of books and protruding from it, a pair of ruby slippers and stripped socks. That was my future.)

Well, no more. Now my future looks more like a slow death by starvation, (because we all know how stable the bookseller industry is.) It all began with a move... followed by another move... and topped off with another move that will happen, hopefully, in the next year. All that moving does several things: you break a lot of stuff, you purge a lot of stuff, and you realize you're hanging on to a lot of dear booky friends who are freakin' heavy!
Shakespeare and Company Bookstore, Paris, France

Combine that with a family business and elderly parents who are ready for someone to step into their shoes. Operating an antique mini-mall has never been a dream of mine, but needs must, so I decided - lemons to lemonade - how could I make this something that I could be happy about? By surrounding myself with books, of course. So while we begin the transition with me slowly taking over the family business, my one mandate has been to convert one tiny section of the shop into a tiny used book store. And I've never had more fun at the shop!

I find myself going back to repeatedly peek into the little room. Ahhh, my dear shelf of romance novels, my shelf of mysterious friends, my disproportionately large section of young adult and middle grade children. Then there're my non-fiction buddies - their compelling covers calling to me and never lying about what's inside....

It's still growing, one-bookshelf-at-a-time. This weekend I'll add another bookcase of general fiction and a comfy wing-chair, to be followed by four more shelves, a "fireplace", free coffee, (no wifi), and a writer in residence. Is it the most lucrative spot in the antique mini-mall? No. But sometimes, it's not about turning a dollar. Sometimes, you just need a moment to catch your breath amidst the cocophany of stuff. Sometimes, you just need a comfy chair and a booky friend - someone who isn't going to mince words, but just give it to you straight-up.

So I guess, this month's post, is about sharing the little passions that define us. I would never regret not having a little used bookstore, but it's a layer of me that I never realized could be so much fun sharing with others. And it really is "sharing". The little book shop, called "The Squirrel's Nest", has already introduced me to some lovely people with similar interests. You're one of those people! Words, words, words, I love you... and coffee... and a comfy chair.


  1. O, Kindred Spirit! A book store of my own has always been my dream - and "The Squirrel's Nest" sounds like it's slipped right of that dream. I can easily picture myself in that wing-chair, lost in a book until you have to push me out at closing time. Good luck with this, Sofie - and thanks for sharing your passion.

  2. I've always wanted a little secret hideaway filled with books, a place to whcih I can escape. Unfortunately someone else keeps winning my lottery money - LOL

    So I have settled on keeping my favorite books in my office. These are the ones I use when I have serious writers' block. Reading some chapters helps my brain re-engage.

    Book Stores - sigh. Hope they will servive in the techno-world. Great post Sfie

  3. I'm a Beast Library girl. You know...the scene in Disney's Beauty and the Beast where the beast shows Belle his library? Like a true bibliophile, I melt into a puddle of want every time. The upshot, though, is the same. Bookstore or library doesn't matter. Every time we crack open a book, we enter a new world. It's our journey of discovery that we never tire of!

  4. Sigh. I just love you folks... kindred spirits... book lovers after my own heart... I'll post pictures of The Squirrel's Nest when it gets to that point. (It still look rather, er, ehm, non-book-store-ish. But I just nipped away to the workshop to construct another book case. I'm going for uniformity and functionality rather than beauty. Okay, my carpentry skills demand functionality and lack proficiency. I'm just aiming not to have one of them fall apart and kill someone. :)

  5. Sounds absolutely lovely! Where is it, so I can be sure to stop by if I'm in the area?

    1. "The Squirrel's Nest" is located in A&W Collectables in Keswick, Virginia. Y'all come!

  6. Hi Sofie--
    Congratulations on your bookstore! It sounds like a fabulous place, warm and inviting. Great idea to have no "wi-fi" and encourage visiting with books.

  7. What English literature major hasn't dreamed of working in or owning a bookshop? I still walk by the few that survive and am compelled to enter and browse. Once there was a fashion for book/coffee shops and there could not have been a place closer to heaven on earth. Lucky you!