Saturday, 29 November 2008

Apology to the bookshop on Windsor Street

If there's one thing I can't take in a bookshop, it's muzak. When I go shopping for books, it's not like I've got a shopping list from which I don't want to divert. On the contrary, I want titles to attract my attention, I want them to seduce me to take them of their shelves, I want to read the blurbs and first pages, I want to focus on them and I want them to convince me to spend my money on them. Walking through a book store with the radio on is more like visiting a graveyard: you read the names and titles, but the books can't come to life.

Today I payed a visit to Uxbridge's Waterstones' to order a copy of Kamila Shamsie's In the City by the Sea. I felt a bit bad because I'd rather order it at the little bookshop on Windsor Street (I don't even know what it's called, but I like the way it smells and I like the people that work there). Unfortunately, I've been putting it off for too long, and I figured Waterstones might get hold of the book earlier.

There was one book that caught my eye specifically: We need to talk about Kevin. It displayed a picture of a mischievous looking schoolboy and I could almost hear his teacher pronouncing the title. Despite the background music I picked up the book and read what it said on the back. When he's aged fifteen, Kevin runs into his school with a gun and kills several of his classmates and teachers. The book is a collection of letters in which his mum reflects on the way she brought him up.

Fair enough, the book had my attention. But the cheerful voices of the Abba Teens made it virtually impossible for me to understand the first page. With all the distraction it took me a lot of time to figure out what it said, but what's worse, I couldn't get the tone right. The atmosphere, the words didn't get through to me because I was feeling bloody Dancing Queen.

Their loss, I thought, and put the book back. They shouldn't have turned on that bleeding radio! This is not a supermarket and this is not the way to go about selling books. Their loss, not mine.

But that was not particularly true. Even though I wouldn't really have had the money to spend on another book, nor the time to read it, it still bothers me that Waterstones interfered with my flirt.

Now I realise why I prefer the small shop on Windsor Street. No chance of being disturbed by anything when shopping for books there.

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