Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A Field Guide to the Little People

Last weekend, Matthew and I visited a great downtown book shop. It's sad to admit, but often, when I need a specific book, I hop online and order it from...yes...Amazon. And then I moan about how all the brick and mortar bookstores are closing! There is something so fantastic about browsing through books, that you cannot replicate with a click of the mouse. And the book store that we went to was not any old large-scale chain retailer (although they seem to be disappearing these days as well). This book shop was the last book shop. Or rather, The Last Bookstore.

This awesome little shop is exactly what a used bookstore should be. It was bright and crammed full of books, new and old. It organized the books clearly, but still left plenty of stacks to explore... and it played great music. (No elevator music!)

Best of all, was the man who worked there. I didn't grab his name, but he was amazing.  He knew what books I was talking about even when I didn't.... seriously. Without the title or author or any real concrete information, he was able to lead me to two books I had on my "list"-- without looking up anything online. That's a great bookshop!

But the funnest thing about old book shops is finding books you've never heard of-- and never knew to look for (and yes, I know funnest isn't a word, but it really ought to be).  I found a funky hardback with a yellowed and ruffled up jacket, called "A Field Guide to the Little People" by Nancy Arrowsmith, and I felt as though I hit the jackpot!  It is exactly what the title says it is. This book catalogues nymphs, elves, dwarves, imps, goblins, fairies, pixies...you name it. If its small and magical, I bet you it has an entry in this wonderfully imaginative and well-organized resource! Each featured little people has a description (some with illustrations, by George Moorse), and section on their origin, habitat, how to identify, and usually a story or two.

So because I became fascinated with it, and because he's so awesome, Matt bought me this charming little book, and I have been flipping through it all week. There are a few entries on magical creatures that I am familiar with, but most of them are new to me. Even the creatures I have heard of, like mermaids, have so much lore and history that I never knew. And so I am totally inspired to use something from this book, either directly or indirectly, in my own written stories.  Reading about the little people, and imagining them in my own adventures, makes me... happy!

I hope that anyone who reads this post will get themselves to a local book shop and finds their own magical, inspirational book! 

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