The Bright Side: Book fairs

Published 4:57 pm Tuesday, March 14, 2023

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Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve always had a pure fascination of books. My childhood bedroom bookshelf was always stocked with paperbacks, sorted in alphabetical order by author and barely touched because I loved the look of them so much more than actually reading them back then.

There are few scents I love more than freshly pressed pages of a novel, so any place that sells books is automatically my favorite. Libraries and bookshops have always been my go-to when I need to study, write and/or recharge.

When I lived in Pennsylvania, I would go to a bookstore/coffee shop and study for exams there for hours. They named their caffeinated creations after famous literary characters – my drink of choice was the “Sherlock Homes,” an iced dirty chai latte. For some reason, it never tasted as good outside of that bookstore, sitting next to the window with my laptop, taking notes while Jon Bellion serenaded me through my headphones.

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Now, whenever I visit a new town, I have to stop at two places while I’m there: a local coffee shop and a local bookstore.

It might come as no surprise to you that the day I looked forward to the most while in elementary and middle school was book fair day.

Ah, the Scholastic Book Fair. There was this energy that filled the classrooms on the day the book fair was set up in the school library that I can’t even begin to explain. It was electric. My classmates and I would sit in our homerooms chatting about what kinds of books we may buy: Ghost stories? Young love? Hidden treasure? Historical fiction? The options were endless.

Not to mention, we felt like the richest kids in the world with the $20 bill our moms had packed in our book bags for us to spend at the fair. “It’s for books, not the other junk,” my mother would tell me the night prior. I assured her it would be spent in the right place, on a new adventure I would get to embark on, soaking up the stories that would unfold before my eyes (on the book pages, that is).

Walking around the book fair was magical, there were stacks upon stacks of new books. I was almost over-stimulated by the sea of colors that painted both the tables and the shelves. I would gaze at the inside flap summaries for a while, glancing through the pages of one book after another until I was holding five or six books in my hands. I knew I couldn’t take them all home, but I could remember those I left behind for the next bookstore trip.

A few of those book fair buys are still in my possession, making it through the countless moves I’ve made throughout my life. The May Bird series by Jodi Lynn Anderson stole my 10-year-old heart and resides with my high school yearbooks and treasured memorabilia. Then there was Flipped by Wendelin Van Draanen, a book that helped me overcome my fear of being left out, teased and traumatized by my own quirks; and The Hunt for the Seventh by Christine Morton-Shaw, which was one of those books that made my pre-teenage-self sleep a little less soundly for a few nights in a row.

It wasn’t the lessons I learned in math class, or the games we played at recess, or even the middle school dances that I remembered and cherished the most. It was those books, and the fair that led me to them.

I loved the book fair so much that I vowed to take care of the purchases I made each year. And although it may sound silly, I thank book fair day for teaching me about what it means to be both independent and responsible. When you give a child the choice to buy something they could benefit from or something they really won’t, that choice says a lot about their character, morals, decision-making, etc. I wasn’t going to let my parents down, or myself for that matter. On top of that, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to own more precious books. I had this idea in my head for a long time that I would make one room in my house a library – shelves of books from floor to ceiling. It’ll happen, one day.

When I heard that businesses in our local community were hosting an adult book fair, my heart almost skipped a beat. The memories came flooding back and I was so thrilled I called my fiancé and told him to cancel any prior plans. We are going to the book fair, and I can’t wait.

Danielle Puleo is a staff writer for The Coastland Times. Reach her at