Perceptions are powerful. We are drawn to certain colors and textures, to certain people, but avoid others, often without a conscious thought. Our brains make a split second decision on whether we want something or dislike something. Have you ever met a three-year old who has a wavering stance on something? Nope, didn’t think so. Our brains are wonderful adaptive masses of tissue and fibers. Through experiences we learn that appearances and perceptions can be deceiving. Like that delicious dark purple jellybean. You were expecting a sweet grape, but no, it is that villain of all flavors, licorice. You either love it or you hate it; there is no middle ground.
Books are no exception to this rule. I am a big fan of books with a good summary, a brief bio about the author, and a good cover design. I don’t pay much heed to the reviews from a major newspaper or periodical, or another famous author. My perception is more impacted by a great picture with a nicely worded title in a font that is appealing or different. I like bright colors; I guess that goes to my magpie roots.
The Little Bookstore is located in a historic home in downtown Big Stone Gap. To the locals the building has always been “that old house behind the liquor store.” One of my fellow local coworkers, and dear friend, was unaware of the treasures inside the bookstore until one day I needed to go buy some gifts and she tagged along. It is hard to change the perception of things that we have known for a very long time. They become sort of permanent fixtures in our minds. But when presented with new information, that image is no longer the same. There is a sense of newness, a small light in a dim room that grows brighter as we really see what is present. This is the same thing that happens when we realize “that old house behind the liquor store” is really a treasure trove of learning, adventure, and wonder.
What happened to change this perception came from books; many books. When we really think about what a book is, it is merely a simple organization of the 26 letters of the alphabet and a few (hopefully correctly placed) punctuation marks. Yet the power that is contained within that binding is limitless. They creep into those hidden recesses of the mind, in that deep part that is our self, and grow roots. Some roots are more troubling than others, especially if it is a horror or thriller that grabs our attention. Maybe the roots become intertwined with our thoughts and begin to influence our perception of the world. Like scales falling off our eyes, revealing a new and different picture. Books change who we are.
Books can change spaces too. That “old house behind the liquor store” is now a quaint little bookstore. But it is more than that. It’s a local meeting spot, a safe haven for intellectuals to bemoan, a quiet place to meditate and engage in a cuddle with a soft kitten, a place to weave and knit, a place to laugh and talk, a place to challenge ideas and engage in political banter, and a place to grow. Wendy and Jack have created their own oasis in the desert with the Little Bookstore.