If you’re anything like me, this article describing a world tour of bookstore cafes, including Mexico City, Boston, Hong Kong and more, makes you want to pack your bags and hop on a plane, ready to see the world with a bookstore cafe as your new homebase.
I don’t drink coffee, but there’s just something wonderful about a bookstore cafe; not only can you wander the aisles and stumble across something new and potentially life-changing, but you can curl up in a comfortable chair and start reading it, perhaps with a muffin or scone to keep you company. It’s a public space that is welcoming and quiet and centered around books, without the looming menace of overdue fines to haunt you. It’s a space where the odds are high you might find someone else who likes that obscure graphic novel or klezmer band.
My all-time favorite bookstore cafe is Grounds for Thought in Bowling Green, Ohio, where I earned my master’s degree, made some amazing friends, and started dating the boyfriend who is now my husband. Clearly, this was a magical and momentous time in my life, and many of those hours were spent at Grounds with Laurie, one of my dearest friends from that time in my life. We would bring our homework and projects, camp out at a table and work, pausing now and then to drink hot chocolate, argue about the value of theory, or note the entrance or exit of a cute philosophy grad student Laurie had a crush on. From time to time, other friends would join us; it was in a conversation at Grounds that I first heard a gay friend talk about couples who made up a new last name when they decided to commit to each other, which my husband and I decided to do as well. When I would daydream about the future, as I often did in that first year, sometimes I saw myself behind the counter of my own bookstore cafe, in some undetermined location, passing out books and baked goods with both hands and watching them nourish my customers.
I haven’t found anything to replace that here in Baltimore; though there have been some likely candidates from time to time, none have lasted for me. Sometimes I still daydream, not about opening my own, but about happening across the perfect haven, full of aromas and books, in the perfect life, where I have plenty of hours to while away in a bookstore cafe.
Any bookstore cafes to add to the list, or any memories to share?
- Holiday Win: An Ode to the Indie Bookstore (kimwerker.com)