by Judy Westergard
available as giclee reprint at
It’s a cliché to say that time spent in a bookstore makes me feel like a kid in a candy shop, but I have no better words to describe how bookstores affect me. Stacks and piles and shelves of books -- the lure of potential escape begs me to spend the next hour wandering, touching, compiling lists of titles I want to read. And the aroma...oh my! A bookstore’s aroma elicits in me a nostalgia that I associate with a warm loaf of homemade bread.
I wander through poetry, fiction, memoir, history...children’s books! I no longer have children in my life but this doesn’t stop me from spending time in this section. Is it by accident that my eye falls first on C. S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe? I skim through the first couple of pages. “...it would be worth while trying the door of the wardrobe, even though (Lucy) felt almost sure that it would be locked.... She took a step further in -- then two or three steps -- always expecting to feel woodwork against the tips of her fingers. But she could not feel it.”
And suddenly I’m in a time warp. My surroundings change and I see myself in my small dark closet. I've tucked myself into my mother's wicker laundry basket. I hold a flashlight in one hand and my book in the other and I know with absolute certainty that if I could find just the right spot on my closet wall, like Lucy I would find myself in some other world, one that was more magical, more exciting than my 1955 world of school, church and chores.
And I did find that place. I didn’t know it then, but it was in that book and in all the books of my childhood that preceded it and in all the books that have since followed. Poetry, fiction, history, memoir and more...they’ve all been a kind of magic wardrobe for me. They still take me out of my everyday world. And yes, I still dream about finding just the right spot in a closet. It’s a dream I hope never to lose.