When I stopped in front of Derby Square Bookstore in Salem, it felt as if the books were going to burst out of the windows like a literary tsunami. Beyond the door, I was welcomed by a Leaning Tower of Pisa-esque bookcase, waving me in. While the store is small, every possible space is stacked with books. Each genre hugged me as I stepped through the stacks. I felt as if a misplaced breath would bring the walls tumbling down around me. I navigated through the paper maze, unable to see where I was going or what I might find.
Half of me expected to uncover a hidden door between the cracks of the books, a doorway that would bring me to Narnia or Hogwarts. If I removed a certain dusty hardcover from a shelf, would a winding staircase appear and lead me to the times of Arthurian Legend? It is silly, I know, but there is something truly magical about a bookstore that seems to have grown into a space. Could it be that a single page from a book landed on the floor and grew into a bookstore? Like wild vines, could the books have climbed up the walls and pushed against the sun lit windows? This is a place where my imagination starts to run wild without even turning a page.
You don’t go into this store to look for a specific book, you go in to be lost and let the book find you.