a world without borders

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The first bookstore experience I truly remember, aside from buying a Goosebumps book a week at the grocery store when I was in the 3rd grade, was in a store called Dalton’s in North Olmsted, Ohio. I was in the 7th grade and I knew I wanted to start reading again, but in the face of such a wide selection, I didn’t know where to start. Somehow I made my way to the fantasy section and noticed a neat cover with an armored dwarf, an elf, and what I thought at the time to be a terribly ugly woman (I would later realize, much to my dismay, that it was actually my favorite male character in the series). I read the synopsis on the back that talked about dwarves, elves, and a race of creatures with wings of flame, and I was hooked.

borders in Crocker ParkSince then, I have spent more time in bookstores in the Cleveland area than I care to admit. Foremost among these bookstores was Borders Books & Music. Red lettering on a large brick wall with vines growing up the side. Oddly placed from my perspective, with me not realizing for years that I was really walking in from the back end of the store and not the main entrance (once I was inside I didn’t really pay attention to the outside world, so you’ll forgive me my prolonged ignorance on the matter, I hope). This was where I came when I had finished a novel in a fantasy series and needed the next one in line. This was where I came on weekends to dwell for hours at a time, until I realized that I had four or ten books in my hands, all of which I knew I couldn’t buy. This was where I came at times for just a little peace of mind in a fast-moving world.

Borders represents a hugely important role in my childhood and development, however corny that sounds. This was where I grew to love the written word, where I learned the value of books, where I discovered my own passion. One of my favorite things to do would be to go to the fantasy section, find the books whose authors’ last names started with “H”, and imagine my name there with all the rest:

Jeffrey Michael Hirz, #1 New York Times Bestselling Author

I would daydream about having my name on the shelf next to the likes of Robert Jordan, Brandon Sanderson, Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman, J.R.R. Tolkien, R.A. Salvatore, and all the other legends who have inspired me through their work. I eagerly anticipated the day I would share valuable bookshelf space with them, simultaneously competing for the reader’s attention and complementing their presence with my own.

But now it’s gone. Borders is out of business, and a place of personal solace has disappeared. Sure, there’s still Barnes & Noble and Books-a-Million and all that. But it’s not the same. Borders, for me, was there from the start, nurturing my intellectual growth and unwittingly stoking my passion. Frankly, for all the money I poured into that company I’m surprised they went under. Figured my weekly contributions would keep it afloat. I must have been mistaken.

So I bid thee adieu, Borders Books & Music. Thank you for the many years of invaluable service provided, knowledge imparted, and passion jumpstarted.

Peace.

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3 Responses to “a world without borders”

  1. Aunt Cathy Says:

    Jeff, I feel your pain. Many a day I would tell Dave I was running to Borders to check out some books. I would be gone only a little while. Hours later I would return home with a few good books in my hand, and many left behind! Generations down the road will never know the feeling of walking into a bookstore and just seeing all those books in front of their eyes, and the rush you get! Instead they will open their e-readers and push some buttons. Not the same as turning a page in a book. Sad!

  2. Ken Says:

    Touche. Life goes on and your influences will come from a myriad of sources. Keep inspired!

  3. Jess Says:

    It’s funny, I remember you buying those Goosebumps books and being SO excited about it! This post definitely brought back some memories for me, too, Jeff. Good post – again!

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