Recently Kathleen and I stopped at a small, quaint bookstore in Punta Gorda, Florida – named Cooperfish Books. We have passed this bookstore every Thursday while en-route to our weekly network meeting in Port Charlotte and finally decided to stop and check it out. To say this bookstore had a certain charm to it would be a severe understatement. The character of the place was welcoming and friendly.
The front section of the store was for local authors. As you walk in a bit further, it felt like you were in a living room filled with used books along with new releases separated by genre. On the far end opposite the entrance was classic books; not just classic, but early editions and copyrights from James Joyce to Ernest Hemingway to Jonathan Swift. There is something about holding an old book, well-worn and would hope was well read in its day. I thumbed through a few pages of Joyce’s Ulysses as Kathleen wandered through the children’s area looking for titles for her grandchildren. That’s when she came across a series of books which took me back to my childhood.
It was not the Hardy Boy Mysteries or Encyclopedia Brown, although I enjoyed reading both as a kid. It was the Choose Your Own Adventure series. This was a unique concept which put the reader right into the action of the story as you had to decide what happens next. After reading the first two pages of the story, you had to choose what to do or where to go next, then turn to the appropriate page to continue the story.
As a 10-year-old boy, I read those books over and over until they were worn out and the spine no longer held the pages bound. My favorite was Space and Beyond where you get to travel through black holes and meteor showers. Other adventures were the Abominable Snowman, Journey Under the Sea, and The House of Danger, just to name a few.
My free time was spent sitting on our living couch, or in a fort I’d build in my bedroom and read all the while pretending the adventure was real. I was the one in the family who begged, “Just one more chapter” when mom said, “Lights out, time for bed.”
During our visit to this bookstore, I read about halfway through Space and Beyond and felt like I was back in my childhood when my obsession was going to the library or a bookstore and wishing I had the time to read all the titles which interest me. I still feel that way today.
One summer as we drove up to Cape Cod, Massachusetts for our family vacation, I recall reading The House with a Clock in Its Walls by John Bellairs. The main character, Lewis searched through his Uncle Jonathan’s house to find a ticking clock that was going to end the world. Lewis went through secret passageways, winding staircases, and trick fireplaces in search of this clock. I remembered wanting to be Lewis as I read this book and felt like it was really me going through the mansion and following the sounds of tick-tick-tick. Unfortunately, Cooperfish Books did not have this title on its shelves, otherwise I would have spent more time revisiting my childhood.
It’s now on my bucket list to once a year reread a book from my childhood. While you can’t go back in time and relive your youth, the magic of a book or two can certainly let you visit, even if just for a while.