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Eating books

I want to be buried at Chapters Indigo.

Let my body be incensed with the smell of new books and Starbuck’s coffee. Let family and friends read over my casket from new releases, Heather’s Picks, and mouldy oldies from the discount bin. Folks chatting each other up, drinking coffee and munching goodies, occasionally wandering off to a quiet corner of the store to read for a while before coming back to the festivities – a fitting tribute to someone who loved books and spent so much of her time in this store or on their web site.

If heaven ain’t got a Chapters, I’m staying put!

(I used to think working at a bookstore would be a dream job until someone explained it would entail actually talking to people and making financial transactions. “You mean they don’t pay you for just coming in and reading the books?” I asked, unable to keep the incredulity out of my voice. Another illusion shattered.)

The Chapters delivery guy has been here so often, he’s like family now. He was admiring our new porch step and sidewalk when The Mister quipped, “Had it put in just for you.”

“Dude! That’s so nice of you!”

The Mister froze for a second then muttered, “Uh, yeah, sure, no problem…” then ducked back inside.

It’s been a tradition going back many years that when Christmas is on the horizon, my dear sister Chris will offer me a gift card to the store of my choice. And every year I reply, “A card for Chapters would be nice.” This year she said, “I’m sensing you’d like a gift card for some place literary perhaps?”

She sensed correctly.

Usually, I’ll take said card, put it under the tree, and not touch it until sometime after Christmas. But the temptation was too great this year. Few pleasures rival the delight of sitting at one’s computer, browsing the books, reading the recommendations, the reviews, admiring the cover art, then ordering up a passel of ’em. For me, it’s like eating a delicious meal, lovingly crafted and presented. Yes, that’s it. Books are food for me.

I ordered two books I’ve been itching to get into – Anne Lamott’s latest, Small Victories: Spotting Improbable Moments of Grace; and The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. I glanced through Anne’s book (I’m sure if we met she’d want me to call her by her first name) and bless my soul! it’s printed in gorgeous blue ink! Wonder how much that set the publishers back. And I read the introduction to Paulo’s book (first names here too) and was shaken by his compassionate and honest description of the obstacles we must face and overcome to fulfill our purpose in life. And that’s when I knew I would have to pay for the sin of violating the Spirit of Christmas Present (pun intended).

I can’t read these books now. I have too many others on the go and my life is too busy to give them the attention they deserve. Florence Scovel Shinn says we are “magnetized” to attract our good in life. I believe I’m magnetized to attract books, exactly the books I need to read at exactly the right time. Skimming through them would be like wolfing down a gourmet supper, an insult to the chef. No, these books will need to be read carefully, savoured, and appreciated. And I can’t do that right now.

Someone up there is laughing at me.

So the books will go under the tree and stay there until after the New Year. And though I can’t eat them now, at least the anticipation is sweet.

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