Musings of a bookworm

By Zainab Khawaja
Tue, 10, 17

“These places are time machines, spaceships, story-makers, secret-keepers. They are dragon-tamers, dream-catchers, fact-finders, and safe places. They are full of infinite possibilities and tales worth taking home.”


“These places are time machines, spaceships, story-makers, secret-keepers. They are dragon-tamers, dream-catchers, fact-finders, and safe places. They are full of infinite possibilities and tales worth taking home.”

Jen Campbell, The Bookshop BookMusings of a bookworm

closed the book with a dreamy sigh, still dazzled by the pragmatic Atticus Finch and the strong bond he shared with his children. At that very instant, ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ became one of my favourite books. Looking around, I noticed no one was in class yet, and so I hurried off to find my Humanities Instructor. She is one of the friends, with whom I can have deep literary conversations and never get bored. As usual, she was dressed to kill in a long, flowy blue dress and her blond hair was tied back in a neat bun. For a moment, I paused to wonder how she could manage to look like a sophisticated character right out of a classic novel so early in the morning. After greeting her with a fond chuckle, I told her about my latest read, and finally asked her if she would recommend some more books. “Aha,” she exclaimed, radiating the kind of exuberance a bookworm shows when inquired about his/her favourite topic. She made a fascinating list for me, just before the other students started to fill up the classroom.

A few days later, I zoomed off to my destination. While in the car, I passed by what seemed like a toy-land of white and pastel houses and heard the chugging purr of the train. Autumn, which is my favourite time of the year, smelled of a blend of bitter brown leaves and gingery spices. My mind began to wander and I thought about the enlightening time I had spent in bookstores located in various cities. Whether it is a small stall at an airport or a bustling book fair, they all had the same welcoming ambiance and a lot of character (literally!), yet the experience of visiting a new one always felt like an adventure I had never encountered before. Sigh! Is it this sensational for everyone?

As I stepped out of the car, I noticed that the bookstore was immaculately tucked in position, surrounded by chic cafes and tiny gift shops. Upon opening the door of the wondrous place, a cool blast of air and warm smiles greeted me. In a world full of havoc, a bookstore grants one a sense of serenity. Being engulfed by magic and exotic places feels therapeutic. It helps a person to let go of stress and simply enjoy the gift of aesthetic pleasure. This was exactly what I was experiencing. Although, I had a long list of book titles in my hand, the magnetic pull of many others attracted me. The profound existence of Charlotte Bronte, Ernest Hemingway, Khaled Hosseini, Jeffrey Archer and other esteemed authors lingered in the air. Smiling gleefully, I waltzed between the chocolate brown shelves, perplexed about where to begin my search. I did check out the Religion, Science and Travel sections, but spent most of my time in the Fiction and Literature one. Initially, a nice, but clingy teenager with a long neck punctuated by a protruding Adam’s apple kept following me, in order to help me find the books I wanted. His dedication to the job was proving to be a bit irritating for me. I hoped some other customer would ask him for help, so that he would let me be. My wish was granted and once again, I could explore without feeling too conscious. I hovered over the plethora of books, skimming through smooth pages, smiling like someone deeply in love.

As time elapsed, I realized if I didn’t hurry, I would be late for a birthday party in the neighbourhood. Looking at the six amazing novels in my arms made me happy, but not satisfied. I wanted to discover and purchase more. Upon making my way to the counter, I beamed at the lady, who had a sweet, plump face and hair as fine as milkweed silk. I paid for what would become a fine addition to my prized possession- my collection of books, ranging from mystery to religion. I hope to turn it into a magnificent library someday. A library similar to the one the Beast owns in Disney’s version of ‘Beauty and the Beast’. As I exited the bookstore, an employee, tipped an imaginary hat and bid me farewell. “Come again,” he said. I gave the magical place one final glance, hoping to return soon. A drizzle was coming down now, so fine that it seemed to drift away in mist before even reaching the ground. I knew I was late for the party, but there was another place where I had to go, before turning into a social butterfly for the night.

A Bryan Adam’s song played in the background and a pair of cool sneakers hung above a carom board. Antique maps and local art adorned the coffee shop’s ethereal blue walls. After placing an order, I went outside and chose a mahogany table, where I could have a fine view of the street. A man sat on his patio, strumming his guitar merrily and children of all ages frolicked around. After getting my freshly brewed beverage, I intended to immerse myself into one of the six tales. But the mere act of deciding what to read first when you have a bunch of enticing novels is a hassle, indeed. Finally, I chose ‘Terms of Endearment’, written by Larry Mcmurtry, which turned out to be quite witty and richly detailed. Whirling galaxies formed in my steaming coffee, while I savoured these quiet, introspective moments. The swirl and swing of words entangled with emotions made me think if I could ever write so beautifully and craft stories that would tug at heartstrings and stay with readers forever. Sitting outside the small cafe, I breathed in the heady mix of coffee, books and damp earth, determined to spread love through words.