You know that feeling where you’re just sitting there, at work or at home just minding your own business, and out of nowhere this pressure pushes on the back on your skull and your neck and makes your heart shudder into overtime? That feeling that something is wrong, and your gut is writhing with indecision and doubt. That same, strange, sensation has been plaguing me for days and is turning my everyday life into a bit of a thriller. I don’t know what it is- anxiety? A sense of foreboding? All I can say is that something’s a bit off in the big, wide world out there… and before it rears its ugly head, I’ll be burying myself in books.
This may be a theme of mine, but whenever I feel like something is askew in this world, I always strive to find a new sanctuary. Whether this is a new place to write, a new bookstore to haunt, or even a new spot to sit in the sun while I read, I just need a new vibe to saturate my brain while I try to distract myself with fantasy worlds.
I did a little road trip recently and found my way out to Portsmouth, NH, where this one bookstore still sits- I drove past it every week for two years when I worked on the coast, and I never had the time or energy to actually stop and enjoy the establishment, even though my eyes were drawn to it like little magnets each time I passed by.
The Book Bar.
I was expecting a hopping bar, something filled with young twenty-somethings socializing and laughing and eating off their food-filled plates. But what I walked in to instead was essentially a library with a centralized stretch of wall converted into a café. With a bunch of beer taps.
Despite my expectations, my nerves relaxed as soon as I walked in and I saw fluffy couches, worn book bindings, and smelled the strong bite of coffee. It was around noon when I got there, and there were people eating their gorgeous lunches with a craft brew, but there were also people sitting at the tables reading one of the many used books that the store offers with a pastry and cup of tea in hand.
I let myself sink into the comfort of the place, ordered a cup of tea called Be Joyful (supplied by a local tea artisan store), and picked up a slightly battered copy of Pattern Recognition by William Gibson. My mind got to wander, my body got to relax, and slowly that feeling of nervous anticipation lessened.
What is it about these moods that draw us to the one place that can heal us?
The atmosphere was perfect, the music was lovely (it was a bit hipster-y, but really, what can you expect with a used bookstore/bar/café?), and the book choice was rejuvenating. There’s something special about finding gems on the shelf that you can’t find in the big book sellers nowadays… it kind of reminds me of when I was a kid and book recommendations didn’t really exist (my friends weren’t big readers). It was all up to my intuition and hunting skills to find my next heart-warmer.
The Book Bar is a thriving, book-lovers dream. I think anyone, whether you’re looking for a place for good food and drinks or to find that strange title you don’t think anyone will carry, would love it.
If you give it a shot, let me know 🙂