Anyone who knows me, also knows that I am a sucker for books. If you do know me, but didn’t know that before now, then you can add that to the list of fascinating things you know about me. Bookshops and libraries give me secret joy. I feel a wee pleasurable flutter of anticipation in my stomach each time I walk into one of these magnificent institutions. Knowing that there are things to be discovered here that will take me into other worlds, is the bright, shiny lure.
What can I say? That’s just how it is for me. Resistance is futile.
An e-reader is not for me. I acknowledge the convenience of it, but there is no visual or tactile experience to be had with it. Books made of paper to be touched and held, though, with covers to scrutinise and wonder how the picture on them might relate to the story inside, that’s what gives me pleasure. I will spend money on books that I won’t spend elsewhere. I will go out of my way to visit a bookshop, but drag my arse to go clothes shopping. Some books I buy will remain forever unread, and some I devour straight away. It doesn’t matter. The act of browsing and choosing, and then walking out with a book, or books, in my bag, and then holding them and flicking through them again, is a thrill I don’t get tired of. Is this what addiction looks like?
To be honest, I don’t think I could spend my money on a full-blown addiction – that would hurt me too much. Yes, I’m being flippant, because I know addictions don’t care about that. What I have is more of an oh-so-very-pleasurable pastime. One I always kept a little hidden, because it’s not like it makes a great story, or anything. It’s nerdy, and before now I didn’t really own my nerdiness. After all, nerds never really got a good rap – ever. Now, though, I’m owning all of me, and if nerd is part of that, then come on board, sister. Becoming older is a brilliant place for blowing off all the shite that we don’t need to hang onto anymore. For that, if nothing else, I’m just loving this place I’m in. I’m other things too, such as a feminist and a vegan, so I’m not always an unnoticeable nerd. These two things give me great powers to piss people off, and, surprisingly, I do do that – sometimes without meaning to, and sometimes with satisfaction.
Ah, but books, bookshops, and libraries. They are in a class of satisfaction all by themselves. I harbour the pleasure of them inside me, because the pleasure is gloriously selfish. I don’t have to share it, and I don’t have to show what fun I’m having, so I can post it on Facebook. This is something I can hold all to myself, my secret excitement, in my own bubble. No-one expects screeches of exhilaration. Not with books, anyway, but I confess to being somewhat of a squealer when getting an exhilarating ride. And rather than try and over-explain or dig myself out of that one, I’ll just leave it there as it is.
So, imagine my delight when I read in the North and South magazine (yes, a paper copy) about what is possibly the smallest bookshop in New Zealand. A veritable tiny treasure! Located in Manapouri in the southwest of the South Island, it boasts around 700 new and used books, specialising in southern New Zealand, the subantarctic islands, nautical and natural history, and lighter ‘holiday’ reading. Ok, so the subjects might be not everyone’s cuppa tea, but what the hell – it’s the ultimate bookshop from hobbitland, albeit almost as far away from hobbitland as one can get in New Zealand. Don’t you love it when people simply don’t care about inappropriateness, in such an inoffensive way?
Now, opening a bookshop in Manapouri, even one under 10m² might not be considered the smartest business move, but for Ruth Shaw it’s a jubilada venture. Called 45ﹾ South and Below, Ruth has also added another tiny hut for kids, with a metre-high door, full of books, games, and toys, some of which can be borrowed by travelers. There is no website nor Facebook page for this shop – I guess you either stumble across it on the cnr of Hillside Rd and Home St, or you don’t. As I stated, in a previous post, I’m allergic to the idea of making a bucket list, but this mighty fine bookshop just might be worth hunting down one day.
**Jubilada – the Spanish (feminine) word for retiree. I am so stealing this for my future jubilada days!
**Jubilado is masculine (if I have Googled correctly)