IBW2021: Louise Jensen on the feeling of a bookshop

To celebrate Independent Bookshop week Louise Jensen, author of the upcoming thriller All For You, shares a beautiful piece on the feeling that bookshops give you.

The feeling of a bookshop

I have a bookcase full of books from my childhood, each one a memory. Sometimes I run my fingers across the cracked and aging spines, gently pulling out the one I’m drawn to, and instantly I’m transported back in time. Back to the small, cosy bookshop in Norfolk with the squashy sofa and the colourful rugs. It was there my Nana would take me in the school holidays when I’d stay with her. There I would spend the precious book tokens I’d always ask for, both for Christmas and for birthdays, because as a child I always had my face buried between the pages of a story. This made me very much the odd one out in the small circles in my small world.

Now, I couldn’t tell you the name of the shop, or its precise location but, even after forty years, I could tell you the way it made me feel.

Safe.

Secure.

Understood.

I can tell you, with clarity, that it smelled of lavender.

That we never felt rushed as we curled on the sofa, my Nana’s arm around me, my face pressed against the softness of her cardigan as she read me stories while I thought deeply about which ones to spend my precious tokens on.

I don’t know if the bookshop is there anymore, but it will always live on inside of my heart and there’s something comforting about the memory. A connection to my grandparents, to more innocent times.

A connection to my childhood self who felt awkward, out of place almost everywhere except surrounded by books.

I’d love to spend five minutes in that bookshop, on that sofa, with the girl I was and tell her that there’s nothing odd about her love of stories.

That one day she would make a living from writing them.

Read the rest of the IBW2021 series here. Louise Jensen’s latest thriller All For You is available to pre-order in your local bookshop or on bookshop.org

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