From author Tiffany Baker:
When I heard about the Newtown school shooting yesterday, I think I reacted the same way as every other parent in America—with a passionate and immediate desire to drive straight to my children’s school, bring them home, line them up on the couch, and then throw my body over them. For the rest of time.
I didn’t, of course. For one thing, it would have scared them. For another, I was reasonably certain they were safe where they were. But how could I go on with a normal day when the very worst thing about being alive—the threat of suddenly and violently losing one’s children—was being played out in front of the nation’s eyes?
The answer is that I didn’t. Instead, I went to my local independent bookstore, which probably seems like an odd and maybe even capricious decision, and did to me at the time, as well. But I think I understand what was behind it. In the face of a most horrible and devastating story, I needed to be in the one place I knew that could not only accommodate that narrative, but would provide a kind of dialogue about it.
Book Passage is more than just a store. It’s a longstanding community hub, a place to grab coffee and talk, a locus for lectures, classes, and clubs. It’s where I used to go as a child, where I took seminars as an aspiring writer, where I’ve given readings, and shopped, and made connections with other writers. It’s part of my life, as necessary to me as the grocery store.
. . . .
A bookstore—a good one, at least—is far more than just a retail establishment. It’s a bank of the human condition. The shelves of Book Passage offer succor to the grieving, wonder to the jaded, advice to the confused. You can go in alone, and come out with an armful of company. If you are a regular, chances are you can walk in and someone there will be able to prescribe exactly what your spirit needs.
In a bookstore, you can find all manner of villains and heroes, both real and imaginary, in a tangle of interrelated pages. It’s a safe place to ask the big questions. Where does evil come from? Are heroes born or made? And most especially, in the face of something like the Newtown shooting, the simplest and hardest question of all: Why?
Link to the rest at Tiffany Baker