A short narrative of a ten-year old bookstore
Open up a bookstore, and the most common reactions are either of readers who swoon at the idea of being in a magical place surrounded by stacks of books or worried opinions on how much the general public doesn’t read and how many people opt to shop online these days. When Junction opened its doors to readers on July 4, 2010 my excitement of being one of those people completely smitten by the magic of bookstores dominated comments like, “How is the bookstore going to survive?”, “Who reads anymore?”, or people who proudly proclaimed, “I don’t read and haven’t picked up a book since I was in school”.
Bookstores, especially small ones like ours, do hurdle through many obstacles, but the lack of readers is not on the top of the list. The general upkeep of the shop, and the agonizing decisions on what books to order, their editions, and quantities, are plenty. Junction is far from my idea of an ideal bookstore, but the idea of running the shop was not to reach a place of perfection in terms of the physical look of the store, rather I’ve always wanted to maintain the spirit of creating a community of readers that we started out with.
Starting conversations on the topic of books is a great way to form beautiful and lasting friendships. Sometimes just a simple, “that’s a great book you’ve picked out”, can lead to long, interesting conversations. I have made friends with people I would have never otherwise interacted with had I not been behind the store counter, commenting on their selections. Through Junction we organized many small gatherings; readings for children, scavenger hunts, exhibitions, trivia, and my favorite, a book club. Our book club meets every Thursday, and we are now a small group of close friends as opposed to a massive group of strangers, which is how it started out. We’ve argued over characters, plots and genres, and enjoyed many new authors and titles we would’ve never selected on our own. Reading ties us together, and we’ve encouraged each other to read more, learn more and engage in absorbing conversations on a variety of subjects.
Junction was also synonymous with being the home of many beloved stray dogs in town. Led by greasy Motay, the pack comprised of handsome Updown, docile Peelu, friendly Pintu, Ewok-looking Brown Brown, veteran Gunther, sweet Scruffy, squinty Bumchu and rugged Rango, made the bookstore their home. Regulars at the bookstore knew most of the dogs by name and didn’t mind that they had to walk around the dogs who were usually napping around in the most objectionable places, for instance: at the entrance to the store or in front of the cash counter. We’ve lost most of Junction’s four-legged residents over the years but we remember them fondly and have framed pictures of them for people to remember them. The three black dogs on our logo Toto, Suzy and Domchu, are Junction’s mascots, and have grown up in and around Junction. Now that they are older they spend most days at home. Pintu and Brown, the last remaining strays, are now retired at our home and do not have to fend off their territory from the growing number of strays in town.
I will not be writing about the benefits of reading here, because you can find the inspiration to read in so many places. It’s a great interest and habit to have, and I am never lonely or bored when I have books around me. Junction’s personality has morphed over the years but the spirit of the bookstore remains the same – to remain a meeting place for booklovers. I may not always be there but it was and will always be my priority, and my favorite place to be.
Kunzang Choki (Mui Mui)
Founder of Junction Bookstore