My bookstore fantasy

It will be a combination used bookstore and café. I will run the bookstore and my wife will run the café. That way we will both become equally wealthy.

We’ll call it Ussalone Books. As a sly rebuke to Quebec’s language inspectors, the name above the doorway will read “Livres Ussalone.”

Customers will be drawn off the street by the smell of early-morning croissants in the kitchen and the sight of late-period Colette in the window. The sign above the display will read “Let’s Colette a Day.” That joke will never get old.

Inside, they’ll find me either working on my latest novel (sure to be the commercial breakthrough the critics have been predicting for years) or sorting the latest arrivals of used books, sold to us by an elderly couple moving into a seniors’ home with no room for their ample collection of twentieth century fiction with zero Danielle Steele. It will be a big pile, but that’s okay because we seem to sell books as quickly as they come in.

Despite the quick turnover of stock, the store will be stuffed with quality books, floor to ceiling, on shelves and in crates, and will smell of paper, nutmeg and pipe tobacco. I’ll know where everything is and will offer generous discounts to the fire inspector, an avid reader of young adult fiction. My offer to sell him a copy of Fahrenheit 451 will be our running joke.

People will read in the café at the back. Go ahead, read all you want, because it will be uncanny how customers won’t be able to leave without buying something, even the people who come in to use the bathroom. It’s called IBG – Independent Bookstore Guilt. So what’ll it be? A book or a bagel?

I will be on great terms with my customers, especially the regulars, of which there will be many – knowledgeable customers who will beg me to set aside the cream of the latest arrivals. But woe be unto the customer who is belligerent or snooty or on record as having enjoyed The Best Laid Plans.

“Do you have any Camus?” the undesirable customer will ask.

“What’s the point?” I’ll say.

“How about a copy of Fight Club?”

“Beats me,” I’ll say.

“Science Fiction?”

“Could be.”

“Agatha Christie?”

“It’s a mystery.”

The regulars will smile knowingly at these exchanges, which will capture the essence of Ussalone Books: salt-of-the-earth elitism for ordinary folks who are just a bit full of themselves.

Desirable customers will be the ones who ask, “Can you recommend a book?” In response, I will pose two, three questions tops, suggest a title, and they will come back a week later and say, “Loved it. Lo-o-o-oved it!” They will never, ever dismiss my suggestions and ask instead for romance novels about vampires in kilts.

84 Charing Cross RoadBesides our in-store customers, we will do a brisk online business, and I will establish a long-distance friendship with a book-buyer in England, just like in the book 84 Charing Cross Road, except, thanks to email, our correspondence will take 20 months instead of 20 years, and I won’t have to die at the end.

The weekly poetry nights will have people lining up to get in, because live poetry is as popular as used books. And the poems will be profoundly beautiful and easily understood, as will be the poets; the “No Mumbling!” rule will be strictly enforced.

“Ross, read us something of your latest,” the audience will implore, and I’ll be shy at first but then will bring the house down with my latest heartwarming but scathing yet hilarious poem. Then I’ll whip out my guitar, and the reading will turn into a hootenanny. I’ll also learn to play guitar.

I will offer free books to small children, unless they’re obnoxious.

It goes without saying that a sweet young couple will meet over a copy of A Confederacy of Dunces, and I will officiate at their wedding, having become an ordained minister between writing critically acclaimed novels and sorting quality books and the guitar lessons.

As the years go by, Ussalone Books will become a treasured landmark in the community, famed for its support of literacy and minestrone soup, a beloved institution that meets the community’s insatiable desire for books and light lunches, especially now that Amazon and Starbucks have gone out of business and Kindles cause sterility.

Wouldn’t that be nice?

About rossmurray1

I'm Canadian so I pronounce it "Aboot." No, I don't! I don't know any Canadian who says "aboot." Damnable lies! But I do know this Canadian is all about humour (with a U) and satire. Come by. I don't bite, or as we Canadians say, "beet."
This entry was posted in It Could Happen..., Reading? Ugh! and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

91 Responses to My bookstore fantasy

  1. Katie says:

    Sounds excellent! My boyfriend has a similar fantasy about a comic book store/bakery combo.

  2. josefkul says:

    I’m glad Kindles cause sterility. I just found out my health insurance may not entirely cover vasectomies and I was looking to save a little cash. Right now irradiating my crotch is sounding like a winner.

    • rossmurray1 says:

      Not covering vasectomies makes sense — it’s self-defeating to eliminate future customers to gouge.
      You could always go for the DIY option.

    • rossmurray1 says:

      Also glad that this was your takeaway from this piece. 🙂

      • josefkul says:

        Haha… Sorry, my wife has vehemently pushed the no sex until vasectomy thing in our household and any alternative cheaper than the several thousand dollars necessary for the vasectomy is very desirable. Clearly, all the previous words about books, minestrone soup, and elitism will be lost under the prospect of finding alternatives to having your balls sliced apart.

        • rossmurray1 says:

          So what you’re saying is I should tag this post “sterilization” to draw the thousands of other desperate, horny men in your situation? Done!

          • josefkul says:

            Hey, anything that draws the horny man demographic is a winner. I was thinking of renaming my website ‘’ to draw in this demographic who will immediately be disappointed with the suburban monotony that permeates each post of my blog. At least my search engine rankings will skyrocket.

  3. Mooselicker says:

    I no longer feel like living a reality now.

    Even if this store did exist and everyone was a total dick and would throw copies of your book at you while yelling insults it would be pretty sweet. I’d take it at least.

  4. Tez says:

    Oh, I would surely be one of the regular customers: flying in once a month from Down Under, on a day of the poetry readings. I’d have breakfast, lunch and dinner in the cafe, be a thrilled audience member during the readings, then stagger back to the airport with stacks and stacks of recommended books (being happy to pay the excess baggage price). Such an adventure!
    ‘And all I have to do is Dreeeeam, Dream, dream, dream. Dreeeeam.’

  5. I think I’ll reblog this because anyone who uses the word, “Hootenanny” deserves to be read by many. Brilliant, Ross! I loved every bit of this.

  6. Reblogged this on A Gripping Life and commented:
    This is brilliant and needs no intro. Please enjoy, “My Bookstore fantasy” by, Drinking Tips for Teens. Thanks Ross!

  7. MissFourEyes says:

    Sounds like the perfect place. I’m glad that Kindles cause sterility. I always knew Kindles were evil.

  8. I will be here every day. Are you looking for sales associates? Please hire me!

  9. lucewriter says:

    Priceless: “just like in the book 84 Charing Cross Road, except, thanks to email, our correspondence will take 20 months instead of 20 years, and I won’t have to die at the end.” hahaha, I love this!

  10. Brigitte says:

    Wonderful Ross! I’ve had the coffee house/bookstore/writer’s group meeting place for so long. I’ve also incorporated aromatherapy into the mix. And yoga, me being the ultimate yoga teacher and of course brilliant author who has had books made into movies. Sigh.

    Loved your image. I’ll stop by. When’s the grand opening? ;).

  11. runningonsober says:

    For this, I would even consider moving to Canadalandia. Unless I could just access the store via my wardrobe… My own version of Narnia!

  12. But I love mysteries and existential authors – will I get a special dispensation b/c I’m a friend, Rosemary???? Or at least a special channel? Can I skip the poetry slam but eat croissants – and as a finger flip AGAINST the language police, I’d have to call them Crescent Rolls in a snoooooty tone.

  13. Sigh, that sounds absolutely fabulous. Only I would, from time to time, recommend romances with kilt wearing vampires. But only the well written ones. After I finish writing and self-publishing them.

  14. As a former bookstore owner I can only say my fantasy ran smack dab into a wall of reality…I think they call it cash flow…or something like that…anyway I wish you well…and it is always wonderful to dream…be encouraged!

    • rossmurray1 says:

      As you may have gathered, I live in Quebec where there is a small English minority. This post is partially inspired by a local English book store (mostly used books) that has hung on so far for 10 years. So far the owner hasn’t let reality get her down. Thanks for the comment!

  15. I would be a regular too and with every word I read it sounds like a dream realized! Are you guys high on the obesity scale over there? No? The croissants alone would put you on the map! Bless that Lisa, found her through the reblog, cheers 🙂

    • rossmurray1 says:

      We’re surprisingly svelte, probably due to all the sweating over language politics. Plus, starving writers and all that. Bless that Lisa indeed! Thanks for the follow!

  16. peachyteachy says:

    I am so freaking excited because I got the bad French joke!!

  17. Lily says:

    Awesome post! Was this written because you wanted to subtly list off great books you’ve read? 😉
    What a nice daydream though. I felt like I was there! I would frequent your bookstore. I’d be one of the customers who recommends books to other customers and when they ask me how long I’ve worked there, I’ll reply with a smile that I don’t. And then they’ll be creeped out and leave promptly.

    • rossmurray1 says:

      Cool! Then you’re definitely not-hired!

      That’s funny about the book name-dropping suggestion. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever read Colette, maybe a little Camus, never Fight Club or Fahrenheit (shame on me), Charing Cross yes, Confederacy yes. And I chose the latter because it seemed like a good hipster selection. The Best Laid Plans I don’t want to talk about.


  18. "HE WHO" says:

    Ah, what a wonderful world it would be. Love the sign above the door. And there is no such thing as a “bad French joke”. I, of course, would be a regular customer at your establishment, stopping in for a cappuccino and croissant on my stroll to the stock exchange each morning.

  19. El Guapo says:

    I would hang out there all the time, if only I knew how to read…

  20. Le Clown says:

    Livres Ussalone… C’est parfait, ça. However, may I suggest:Livres Ussalone, S’tie? I’ll choose a book by Marguerite Yourcenar, sit in front of the Colette poster, and tell passing customers that all French people look alike, and they are probably just one… all but Albert Camus..
    Le Clown

  21. calahan says:

    So, I’d love to hang out and read, but do you have anything else besides bagels? Also, this iced coffee tastes bitter. And what is that smell?! Good god!

  22. Ahh, the romance of running a bookstore. What are you doing telling everyone about how great it is? Now Everyone is going to want one and stores will pop up everywhere! Geez, thanks a lot Ross. Bookstores on every corner. They’ll outnumber McDonalds! And we’ve been running on bookstore quilt for years. Now our cover is blown! Well at least Knowlton is a forgiving town. D’Oh!

  23. Confederacy of Dunces – one of my all-time faves!

  24. Pingback: Five Dirty Words | A Clown On Fire

  25. theidiotisms says:

    Is this gonna be like “The Shop Around the Corner”? I can’t imagine the uproar if any “mega” bookstore tries to scoop up our “Yellow Pages Bookshop”.

  26. Ussalone is inspired, but please be aware that you may get a few people wandering in looking for the ‘niche’ escort service Ass-U-Lone…just be prepared; otherwise this is a beautiful dream.

  27. Delusia says:

    Love all of it, but this line is my favorite: “My offer to sell him a copy of Fahrenheit 451 will be our running joke.”

  28. Deepam (Susan) Wadds says:

    Reblogged this on deepamwadds and commented:
    A wonderful fantasy. I don’t know who wouldn’t love a place like this!

  29. Pingback: Shelf life | Drinking Tips for Teens

  30. Letizia says:

    “Livres Ussalone” !!!! Love it 🙂

  31. nobsj says:

    brb drooling

  32. Pingback: The Green Study’s “Positively Happy Nice Story” Contest: 2nd Place | The Green Study

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