Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Scotland: the beautiful bookshop

 When I was growing up, I could never quite understand my Dad's fascination with second hand book shops. To me, they were incredibly disorganised, higgledy-piggledy affairs, and I didn't know why you'd want to go into a bookshop where things weren't clearly labelled, and where you didn't know what you were looking for. Second hand book shops were, in my eyes, a delay to getting home, or wherever else we might be headed, because it was as though there was an invisible magnet that drew my Dad into any secondhand bookshop in the near vacinity. 

In my teen years, a second hand book shop opened up quite close to my home, and we would always pass it on the route to and from town. I remember the man who ran it, who had a giant beard - the kind that covered his mouth so it looked like he didn't have lips. I remember a friendliness between my parents & him, and cannot recall if that was because they knew him, or because they were such familiar faces in the bookshop that there was always an exchange of pleasantries whenever we were in there. I remember looking at this man with a new-found respect when I realized that somehow, on his old computer found amidst endless piles of books on his desk, he had some system of organisation to the books that appeared to me, to be completely orderless. To think that in his head, he probably knew 80% of the titles in his care seemed quite marvellous. 

Thankfully, as I have grown & changed, so too has my appreciation for second hand book shops.

On our return journey home from Scotland, we had a couple of hours in Inverness before we needed to head to the airport. Tim & Becky (who also seem to have access to the same invisible bookshop-magnet that my Father has) had spotted a great big second-hand bookshop when they had arrived in Inverness at the start of the holiday, and so that's exactly where we resolved to spend the next couple of hours. It turned out that we were a little too keen, and the shop didn't open until 10am, so we pottered down the road to a little cafe & consumed coffee, cake & smoothies until the bookshop opened.

Leakey's Bookstore is no ordinary bookshop. Thousands of books reside here, in this old, beautiful church and we did our very best to soak up as much as we could. We left our luggage next to the comfy sofas upstairs so we  could freely browse. And browse we did.

We crawled along on our hands and knees, inbetween bookshelves filled with row upon row of beautiful books. We breathed in the old familiar smell of books that have lived for more than the sum of our years, and revelled in the history set before us. Oh what fun we had. 

 {Becky & Tim browsing the extensive collection of books printed by The Folio Society}

Sadly, I was only able to buy one book as I was greatly restricted by luggage space, having only taken hand luggage on the plane. Becky,on the other hand, filled her arms with books until she was sure she could not fit in any more.

 {John & a wood burner + plenty of wood for the cold Scottish Winters}

If you ever find yourself with a few hours to kill in Inverness, this bookshop is a must (you'll find it on Church Street).

1 comment:

David Barnes said...

I now want to go to Inverness!

It emerged on one of my trips to the bookshop by the school that the beardy man also used to be a rock climber, so that opened up a fresh avenue of conversation! I think he actually mainly used his computer to play patience :)