Bookstore Therapy: Finding Solace Between The Shelves

Hello again! Welcome back to another riveting week of Corvina Has Not Had Time To Finish A Book Review!

Just kidding (sort of). Although I am not kidding about the lack of review – I have books I need to write my reviews on, but I just have not had the time/mental capacity to sit down and write them. But that’s okay! (Remember, I’m trying to be nicer to myself about these things!)

In all reality, I am really hoping to have at least one review up before the weekend, but I make no promises. The last week of February will be a busy one!

In the meantime, I wanted to take some time to talk about my second favorite topic for online discussion: Mental Health. More specifically, how absolutely amazing and helpful book spaces are for that.

If you’ve been following along, (or at least read last week’s post), you’ll remember that I started 2019 in a whirlwind of activity. I spent a week with my boyfriend, now fiancé, we celebrated becoming engaged, and then I got super friggin sick. Last week, amidst the remnants of the plague that just won’t leave me alone, I also survived a 16-day work streak. And, on Monday, I threw out my back – because apparently, my body didn’t get the memo that we’re only 22, not 62. I’ve been trying really hard to stay positive in the midst of all these physical ailments. My mental health has, honestly, been at an all-time high lately. It’s been great! So great, in fact, that I’ve grown completely comfortable with the idea of having a Normal Brain that Feels Things Normally.

So, of course, when I completely crashed yesterday, I was pretty goddamn pissed. I mean, aren’t we past this, Brain? I’m having enough problems with my body trying to get healthy, do you really have to konk out on me now too?

I was feeling, quite frankly, pretty shitty about it all day. Which only made things worse. I mean, it just really sucks to know that you can try so hard to be happy, to squash any negative thoughts that plague you, to finally see results in your recovery from a mental illness, only for it to all come crashing down again in a matter of seconds. Within minutes, the seemingly random panic attacks were back. The feelings of hopelessness were back. The unsettling, intrusive thoughts that come with anxiety and depression come barreling down the locked hallway of your mind, all fighting for attention, each one more horrific and uncomfortable than the last.

While feeling super shitty, like my world was crashing down and all I could do was sit and watch, my workday ended, and I had errands to run because life does not stop for anyone or anything. I went to the Barnes and Noble near my work to pick up a birthday present – I am on a strict book buying ban until I get through my TBR list and the pile of unread books next to my bed – but decided to treat myself to a walk around the store.

I haven’t been inside in months. Honestly, I have a love-hate relationship with B&N – especially after my member account got hacked last month and my mom and I got our credit card info stolen (!!!) – but I have to admit, being in that store is oddly comforting. They’ve redone some of the displays since my last visit, added more seating areas, and upped their Starbucks menu, which is always a nice touch. It felt really homey like I could sit and get cozy with a book and a warm drink and stay there forever.

I browsed the mystery section because, for some reason, I’d never bothered to check to see if they carry my two favorite series, the Amelia Peabody series by Elizabeth Peters and the Lady Emily series by Tasha Alexander. Lo and behold, they carried books from each and I was able to marvel at their pretty covers and New Book Smell. It was the most therapeutic thing I’ve done in ages.

While I was there, two little girls approached me – no older than ten, I’d say, but their parents were nowhere in sight. My first thought was that they were up to something and to be wary of them, because kids can kind of suck sometimes, but as I was moving to browse the next aisle one quietly said “Um, excuse me?” and proceeded to ask me if I’ve ever read Harry Potter and if I knew who J.K. Rowling was. It was the sweetest, most pleasant conversation I’ve ever had with kids, and it really put a smile on my face.

I browsed a while longer, partially because I was mentally adding to my TBR and mostly because I just didn’t want to go home yet. When it was finally time to get the gift card that was my main reason for coming, the cashier was the most pleasant girl I’ve ever met. She did the whole customer service routine, but just had the kindest smile and sounded so genuine when we talked that in that moment, I wanted nothing more than to be her friend. The same was true of the Starbucks barista, who I visited next on my way out to get a drink to go; he was kind and cracked jokes and was just nice.

I have never met a rude person in a bookstore before. Ever. I don’t think they exist. Everyone in every bookstore I’ve ever been to has always just been so genuinely nice – these spaces, and the people in them, are sacred and need to be protected at all costs.

Today, I had another shitty day. I got rejected from my top choice for grad school, realized I probably won’t be able to live with my fiancé – let alone have a wedding – for at least another year or two, and spent the better part of my day grappling with the fact that my life is not going in the direction I had planned. But that’s all okay, because that’s how life works. For now, I’m letting myself be sad about it – but I’ve promised myself a date to another local bookstore in Providence on my next day off, because bookstores are a special place, and nothing hurts quite as much when you’re surrounded by books.

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