There are countless stories here. The perfume of paper, glue, and wood permeates each alcove. The wooden floorboards creak underfoot, welcoming the weight and wander of those browsing the shelves. The light is warm and soft, all noise hushed.
For this is a sanctuary, a haven for the thinkers and readers and wonderers, a second life for books read and worn and passed on, a beginning for those tales with crisp, unbroken spines. For this is a hallowed place in which an elderly woman can wipe aside a tear as she pages through a bridal magazine and a homeless man can sit in the corner and read a book on Leonardo da Vinci.
Stories have always been part of the human condition, as ingrained in our struggle to survive as is the need for shelter and food, warmth in the cold and companionship in the dark night. These cathedrals of the written word are our oases.
I pull a tattered book from a high shelf and find a quiet corner in which to read.