Wishing I Was There: The Book Barn

Today in the arid desert my lips are permanently chapped and the sun bleaches everything in a white glare. I’m hiding out in A’s shady office where the wooden Venetian blinds let in slits of light like we’re in the movie Chinatown. I’m dreaming of the east coast and humid air, of green forests with cicadas humming and most tauntingly, of summer rain. Oh, what I would give for a summer rain right now. Still, I’d give more to be at The Book Barn.

Located in Niantic, Connecticut, this beautiful book store, more of a compound, really, houses some 50,000 books on a dizzying array of subjects. The Book Barn is home to dozens of cats, some goats, and a few dogs for good measure. My father first took me when I was home visiting him from college. I think some small part of me moved to New York to be closer to The Book Barn, and my father, of course.

I can revisit the stages of my life by examining my first stop at The Book Barn. In college I beelined for the drama section. I bought up rare old plays and even some new ones as a way to save money on my required reading for class. Later as a New Yorker, I would peruse the literature section, desperately hoping to expand my horizons and catch up on so much world literature I had missed in my focus on theatre. When I moved to Los Angeles, my visits to the Book Barn were less and less, but I never missed an opportunity to look through their Architecture and Art sections.

cat

Today I would not beeline for any section, but instead take in the beauty of everything. With coffee in hand, I would search for cats in stacks to pet. I would watch the goats and hope for summer rain. Maybe I would even hope for magic. My friend in LA told me a touching story about The Book Barn.

She grew up nearby and spent her teenage years bumming around ‘the Barn.’ (My teenage haunt was Oxford Books. RIP, sigh) Recently she was back visiting and took her daughter to pick out some new books. My friend picked up a book she remembered reading as a child. On the title page was an inscription to her from her father. It was her childhood book after all now safely back where it belonged.

 

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