There are a lot of things I love but I particularly love bookshops. I love the rows upon rows of colourful spines in wooden bookshelves. I love the new releases, displayed with their book covers facing out and often a staff recommendation attached. I love the bibliophile merchandise – the mugs, the tote bags, the pencil cases – there for anyone who wants to declare their love of reading. I love the people who work there, who tell you they stayed up all night reading the book you are about to buy and recommending another author to try. And I love the atmosphere of possibility, of escape, of knowledge, of entertainment, of debate, of shared ideas.
- Buying a book supports an author – one step away from bookshops are the authors who write all those books. Did you know that the average yearly income for an Australian author is less than $13,000? That’s why most authors have a job and write during tram rides to work, on their one day off, on the weekends around their kids’ sport, at 5 in the morning or during the midnight hours. Writers often describe their days in shifts – the first shift is paid work, the second is looking after the kids, the third is housework and life admin and the fourth is the odd hour or two to write. That’s why social media and writing workshops and writing festivals are so important because it provides a platform for authors to promote their books.
- Opens your mind and your heart – hand in hand with knowledge comes empathy. I wouldn’t have any empathy for people of British-Pakistani descent if I hadn’t read Home Fires. I wouldn’t know what it was like to a be a ten-year old girl living through WWII if I hadn’t read The war that saved my life. I’m currently reading Jon Kabat-Zinn’s book, The full catastrophe – and I’m learning meditation to help with my migraines.
- Local is wonderful! I know the booksellers at my local bookshop – they ask about my writing, I ask them for recommendations and we have a shared discussion about books. I’m supporting a local business, they’re providing me with choices and community. And I’m not paying for postage or packaging.
- I’m buying a book that I can share with others. If I buy children’s fiction, my kids will read it. I often share my children’s books with teachers at my kids’ schools, and I share adult fiction bookswith my friends.
- It’s for me – I’m buying myself a few hours of entertainment, or escapism or daydreaming or general knowledge or writing knowledge, which can lead to shared discussions with others.
I hope you find time tomorrow to go out and support your local bookshop, strike up a literary conversation, support an author and grow your mind and heart and community!