The Death of a Giant: RIP Borders Bookstore
In 2004 I discovered the local Borders Bookstore near Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA. I had switched over from pre-med to English and I was still a little lost. Was I doing the right thing? Would people judge me for not being able to survive as a science major? Why couldn’t I handle pre-med like my friends? Most importantly, I was struggling with the possibility that I let my parents down who wanted me to go to med school so freaking badly. My only solace growing up was in libraries and bookstores. SO, I returned to my roots and found refuge at Borders…it was like coming home.
Flash forward 3 years. I’m in law school in New Hampshire…or as I fondly referred to it: New Crap-shire. Nothing against NH residents, but the snow, missing my family and missing my friends was a lot to deal with so my time in NH turned into…well a crap moment in my life. I was also struggling with the same questions I faced when I switched majors in undergrad: am I doing the right thing? Am I strong enough, smart enough to survive this? What if I can’t make it? The only bookstore in town was the local Borders. I would curl up with a hot chocolate (because it was cold and snowy all the freakin’ time) and I’d escape for a while. Borders had yet again offered me a home away from home without judgment and a place where I was surrounded by words and books.
I can’t hate New Hampshire TOO much because I made the decision to write a YA when I was up there. I had been fooling around with a YA plot idea and when I made the move up north, I started reading YA in earnest at that Concord, NH Borders . I wrote my first YA and sent out my first query letter in the Borders cafe. I received my first request for a full while I was hanging out with some of the cafe staff. Most importantly, I wrote my second and started my third YAs in Borders.
When I transferred to Hofstra Law, I immediately hunted down the closest bookstore, and what do you know? It was a Borders. I finished my third YA novel and got news that I landed my first agent. All of this transpired in the cafe. I always sat in the cafe. I can’t tell you how many long hours I spent pouring over text books while sipping lattes well into the night or spending hours on revisions while my cafe friends slipped me free drinks because they felt bad for me that I had been there longer than their shifts.
My point? the death of this giant, of this artsy bookstore with big wooden welcoming tables, with colorful walls and wide aisles, saved me more times than I could count. I had no place to go, I couldn’t find anywhere I’d fit in…until I walked into a Borders. I knew the staff at every single location I haunted frequently. My hearts go out to them because they’ve lost more than their home now that the the giant is dead.
As a writer, as a reader, as a misfit, I want to thank you, Borders, for giving me a place I could always call my own. You’ve helped shape who I am and for that, I will always remember and miss you.