The Charm of My Local Secondhand Bookshop
There is the most amazing second hand bookshop in walking distance from where I live. There are row upon row of shelves, and delicious little nooks and crannies where you can (and ‘people’ do) hide from your spouse who wants to get on and march off to do something practical. It’s a place where time can stand still and you can disappear into another world.
I walked into the bookshop at Logie Steading alone and breathed in the comfortable smell of old paper that’s been pressed together for years. There’s a display of beautifully-bound books in front of you beneath the till desk and above that you are (on most days, as I was today) greeted by the cheerful face of Ruth Boardman who, with her partner Annie Cheese, owns Logie Steading Bookshop.
About Ruth, the Shopkeeper: A Born Bookworm
I got talking to the exuberant Ruth and discovered that surprise surprise, she is a bookworm herself (funnily enough not all bookshop-owners are keen readers themselves, it turns out). Ruth has been a book-lover from birth. She can’t remember a time before she read, she studied English Literature and Creative Writing at university and (while spending 25 years in nursing) has read and written ever since. Ruth says that she thought working in the bookshop was living her ideal life, but when the opportunity came along to buy the bookshop, it was a dream come true.
Ruth revealed that her favourite authors are Maya Angelou, Virginia Woolf and JK Rowling, that she loves poetry, that she writes both poetry and prose herself (I’m looking forward to the day Logie Steading Bookshop hosts her own book launch – her father recently launched his first book here at the age of 89!) and that she has personal experience of how reading can unite different generations. Ruth shares her love of JK Rowling with her niece and nephew and even took them to Edinburgh to queue overnight in wait for the final Harry Potter to be released – a shared love of books can create an intergenerational connection and memories to stand the test of time.
It turned out that Ruth and I shared some similar book-tastes and the friendly chat, the rows of books, the familiar bookish smell and just being in this shop was such a generally positive experience it made me wonder – why aren’t I in here more often?
Why I’ve Been Missing Out
The fact that I haven’t bought more books here is strange really, because I love the shop and I am the type of person who can’t resist a book and has piles of them – unread, half-read and re-read – in leaning towers beside the bed and Logie Steading Bookshop is the kind of place where any book-lover would walk in, face transformed into the hearteyes emoji, and lose her (or him) self for hours.
Anyway, I’ve come to the conclusion that the reasons have been two-fold:
1. Lack of solitary time. I’m just at the stage of life with three young children where leisure time isn’t really a solitary experience – my days of quietly perusing a bookshop in peace will no doubt one day return. As such I rely on recommendations from friends and then just buy that specific book, and I’m starting to feel that I’m missing out this way.
2. I do come and buy books here, but – you’ve probably guessed it – they are mostly for my children. It’s a great treat for our kids to be taken with some of their birthday or Christmas money and to choose their own books. And often their choices are not as I would have predicted (the trip where we purchased a health manual for the five year old springs to mind). They love the children’s corner, which really is a cosy corner with bookshelves on all sides, a teeny chair and books right down to the floor for little people to reach. For once I didn’t have any of the little monsters with me on this trip so here’s one from a while back of the three year old making his selection from children’s corner – with grandma.
So while I’ve been shopping for children’s books, books for me have taken a back seat and it’s seemed easier to ask a friend with similar taste to recommend something and just order it. Not very imaginative. And it means I’ve been missing out on serendipitous book purchases.
My Back-to-Reading Solution: Recommendations
I explained to Ruth that I didn’t seem to have time these days to really enjoy my past pastime of forgetting time and reality among a bookshop’s shelves, and perhaps the solution was to ask her for some suggestions, or nudges in a direction, to help me along my way. She was almost reluctant at first, as she says that she feels that people often don’t want to be advised or ‘sold’ to and I agree but feel that there’s quite a difference between being pushy and making a helpful recommendation on request. Especially to someone time-poor but who loves reading and doesn’t know where to start among the shelves for fear of disappearing amongst them for far longer than allowed. Anyway, it turned out that we have some similarities in our tastes: novels with a human element, believable people rather than fantasy and often books about women. I allowed myself two books (with another resolution that I’d finish these, at least, before coming back for more) and walked away with an intriguing novel based on the trailblazing pilot Amelia Earhart and The Outrun by Amy Liptrot, an unusual sounding memoir about her life on Orkney where she returned after a decade of addiction in London.
I’m Back to the Bookshop. Again
Suffice to say that I am delighted to have rediscovered the charm of my local secondhand bookshop. After this lovely sojourn, home I went, finished my day and then – children to bed, husband out, fire lit, glass of wine poured, telly off – I actually read. It was delicious.
This book-buying style suits me, and the me that is now. I’ve got stuck right in to The Outrun and am looking forward to the pleasure of choosing my next purchase, most likely with Ruth’s help.
If you too love books and enjoy losing yourself amongst the shelves, Logie Steading Bookshop (like Logie Steading in general), is a place to enjoy and take your time. It is so diverse and well laid-out that there is a corner for everybody. From maritime books to local history, novels to poetry, gardening to cookbooks, and all number of specialities in between, there’ll be something to pique your interest. If you are someone who is at a point in your life where you do have time to yourself (I’m aware that the stage I’m at now will likely be a brief one in the general scheme of things), rest assured that if you want to take a break from life and peruse in peace, you will be left undisturbed – no-one will pounce on you or hover around offering to help, but if in doubt or in need of a little inspiration, don’t be shy, do what I did and just ask!