I have used this line so many times over the past several years, answering the often-asked question as to what made me want to open an independent bookstore. I am "a child of books", I will respond at some point in the conversation, meaning that I grew up in the world of books. My mother was a student of English Literature and taught composition and literature throughout her years in teaching. She created my world by weaving masterful stories to tell to me when I was pre-reading age, whetting my appetite for adventure and imagination. I was eager to figure out how to decipher the letter combinations on the pages of her giant (to my tiny hands) books, lining the walls of just about every nook and cranny in our big house in the woods of east Tennessee.
Some of my very favorites in my younger years were The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams and The House at Pooh Corner by A.A. Milne. But, that said, due in large part to my mom's love and retelling of J.R.R. Tolkien and The Hobbit, I longed for adventure books and imagined Gandalf accompanying me as I hopped along the larger rocks and stumps in the forest to avoid the fires of Mount Doom in Mordor.
I am a child of books in the sense that I was raised up in a household that treasured the written word and celebrated a well-crafted tale. My mom would quote Shakespeare to send us off to bed, "out, out brief candle...life is but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage" reminding us that today was done and tomorrow (and tomorrow, and tomorrow) was nigh upon us. Even as I child, I hung upon those words and ventured off into dreamland with the most elaborate imagery in my head. I have always had a love for stories for as long as I can recall. So, I suppose it might have been inevitable that I open a bookshop to help supply my own community with the stuff of imagination.
It's funny, though, that early in my curation for the shop, I actually stumbled across a children's book with the same title as I had been describing: A Child of Books by Oliver Jeffers and Sam Winston. It is a lovely tale, aptly describing the imaginative world that is offered up by the words, sentences, paragraphs and chapters provided by amazing authors and storytellers throughout the ages. It's such a celebration of the world of a young one's mind when immersed in books that it reminds me of my own childhood and reminds me why I might love the children's section in the shop more than anything! The opportunity to spark another's own love for books is the most inspiring part of my "job" at the shop.