The Weekly Bookstore Tradition: A Post-Father’s Day Reflection

Father’s Day this past Sunday reminded me of what a major role my dad played in my love for books.  In transcribing all of these interviews for this independent press project, I began to look at that history in a new light.

Growing up, one of the few things my dad and I did together, just the two of us, was go to the bookstore.  I watched him come home every night, sit in his chair, and crack open a book.  I started to imitate this behavior and not long after, I began tagging along on his weekly trip to Barnes and Noble or Borders.  He would wander off to his favorite sections and I would head for the Children’s section and later on, Young Adult.  We’d reconvene after an hour or so of getting lost in the book titles, and we’d each have a stack of books in our hands.  I’d be anxious the whole time, wondering if he’d make me put one back, so I’d try to limit myself to two books.  He never made me put any of them back.

I am sad to think of the now closed Borders we used to visit in Wheaton, IL.  I grew up, stopped going to the store every weekend, and now it’s gone.  Of course, it’s not as simple as all of that — there’s Amazon, the growing popularity of ebooks, and new storytelling formats.  If I were a little girl growing up now, I wonder if Dad and I would still be going to the bookstore — or if we would be doing something else, like playing with his iPad.

I don’t visit the bookstore on a weekly or even monthly basis now.  I order all of my graduate school books off of the internet, and only go to bookstores for a special treat.  Would I still love books in the same way if I hadn’t made those weekly trips to the bookstore?

Though I feel guilty for neglecting the bookstores, I take comfort in the fact that my love for books has not gone away.  I may not visit the store quite so often, but I’m still reading.  I’m still buying books.  My hope is that as long as we’re still showing up to read, books won’t be going anywhere anytime soon.

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