Racks of Magic

Faaiz Gilani
5 min readApr 13, 2023

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My fortress of imagination. A place where thoughts are not held captive by age, limitations or realism. Once a forgotten ally, now my everyday constant. A bookshop stacked with thousands of unexplored stories with a wonderer unveiling one tale at a time.

The wooden stairs creaked with every step the six feet tall lad took. The shop, with its antique wooden bookshelves and staircase, transported you back to the late ’80s, and the smell of books reminds you of memories you truly cherished. This was not the case when I first started visiting the place. Initially, it was a place to kill the excessive time I had at my disposal. The tourist side of my personality urged me to take the trip, drag my feet across the red carpet and take pictures for my Ferra Nova Instagram page. Don’t blame me, but leisurely walking through isles, and exploring books was alien to me. I relied on being sure what I wanted to read and would casually order them online, with the parcel arriving within a few days.

From being a mere tourist destination, within a few months, the bookshop elevated itself to a league of its own. A place of creativity, emotional support, a breakaway from life and connection to the life I left behind. I will not mind some of you judging me for such far-fetched claims, but those who have been visiting, with a keen eye, will relate to what I am to elaborate upon.

An Instagram reel made me realise that Young Adult is for people till the age of 22, two less than my age. Does that mean I stop reading them? Shift to the content that adults read? Or worse, pick up a political book and actively participate in drawing room political debate, where everyone presents their opinions as facts. No offence to those who read such books, you decided to accept boredom, but I am not ready to fall into this trap of ‘maturity’. The freedom to select anything out there in the racks has rekindled the desire to be imaginative. To look in the sky and question why cannot I go there. To look at football and imagine an alternative reality where Pakistan invested in football the way they do for cricket nowadays. The creative illustrations on pages, the fluctuation in fonts to depict a change in emotion and the use of jargon rather than perfect formal English, all bring back memories of Faaiz casually reading Captain Underpants, Matilda or Snoopy. Scampering through courses and trying to ace exams took away that one quality that I always took for granted. My imagination! A doorway to an alternative universe and endless possibilities had been long forgotten. It was only through reading some childhood books and remembering the ideas that went through my mind while turning pages that my brain embraced the forgotten aspect with open arms. Without visiting the bookstore continuously, this never would have happened.

Being far from home, you are short of emotional support at times. It is not due to a lack of effort from your friends or family, sometimes time differences and hesitance to reach out can prevent contact. Those are the days I pass a sigh of relief for having a four-stored bookshop right next to my university! You cross the road, and boom, you enter a realm that would surely make you smile by the time you exit the place. In times of worry or sadness, I randomly pick a book and binge-read it for an hour. People go past you, also looking for books as you calmly remain seated, with the stories uplifting your mood. At the end of it, I think all you need is a distraction to forget your instant troubles, and a good book, like-minded people and a cup of tea serve as an anti-dote that you took time to find.

The distraction aspect is like a double-edged sword nonetheless. While it serves as a breakaway from regular life, too much of it can put you in an endless spiral while your responsibilities remain neglected. Yet, I still visit the place, knowing I can control myself. With your mind constantly exhausted by economic theories and the stress of impending deadlines, the shift from dense readings, with frequent concentration lapses, to something light, provides you with the relief you were desperate for. Try it for yourself, and soon you accept that this technique works, and your productivity improves with renewed focus and clarity.

Lastly, my favourite is the nostalgia associated with bookstores! The books you read back in class 1, your summer holidays read, the awful novel your English class made you read to the very last book you read back home, all of them are there. The books are not just pages compiled together but are portals to your past. Often, I find myself grinning after finding specific books and sometimes disgust overpowers me as I remember the time which should remain hidden in the deepest part of my brain. Nevertheless, most books remind me of people whom I associated with. Hence, it is fairly common for me to take out the camera, take a photo and instantly send it to the one recalled, with the other person also delighted by this gesture. Unfortunately, my friends and siblings are not too fond of book reading, therefore, these instances are rare.

This was sent to all of my groupmates from our project on Machiavelli

I can give you numerous other reasons why bookshops are the place you need to visit as a priority, but for today, four reasons would do. I am aware that these reasons may seem nerd-ish and hard to accept, yet one can come to the stage where I stand. Some of my friends also began visiting bookshops, and they relished the experience. It all starts with an initiative, and in this case, go and grab a book. Develop the hobby of being an avid reader, exploring different genres, find the kind of books that excite and inspire you to become an even better version of yourself! One day, you will look back upon this routine and pat yourself on the back for going through the process where bookstores became one of your favourite hangout spots.

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Faaiz Gilani

An aspiring writer, with no prior writing experience, talking about his experiences to help others getting bored in Quarantine……….enjoy my short stories!