There are few bookstores in the world where a reader feels like home, and fewer even where booksellers don’t respond with an eloquent “huh?” when asked a question.
I had heard a lot about Blossom Book House when I visited Bangalore: in snatches of conversation, at hushed tones in other bookstores, and as part of lists on the internet. I was still not prepared for what I was to witness.
I convinced a friend from the city (who didn't need much convincing to begin with) to come along with me to this iconic shop in Bangalore's Church Street. I was happily about to enter the shop on the ground floor, when my friend violently nudged me and pointed to the stairs to the left. I was annoyedto be disturbed, but I conceded and walked up the narrow wrought-iron staircase. The scent of borrowed books tickled my nose before I even had a chance to look around. I responded with an involuntary sneeze, and looked around. There were no ordinary corridors here; each row looked like a vortex for time travel to take you into a world of fiction. Books lined the wall from the tip of my toes to the end of the wall, and if gravity weren’t a concern, they would be haphhazardly stashed on the ceiling as well.
This was the firstfloor of Blossom Book House—home to secondhand or as it is known these days, pre-loved books. Here, there is no discrimination when it comes to appearances, and those who judge their books by the cover would miss out on a lot without an open mind. There are books old and frail, sturdy with a hardcover, thin, stout, fat, dog-eared, each with a compelling story to tell.
Each row of books gives the illusion that it may collapse into an avalanche of words. Look closer and you’ll find that the tomes are strategically placed, fit into tight corners and nooks, propped against each other. Removing a title of your choice is not unlike a game of Jenga, but here’s where your first interaction with the booksellers begins. The next conversation happens next when you look for a specific title from your wish list and ask for help. Unlike most other stores, you have a two-way conversation with the sellers and your title is looked for (and located) with enthusiasm.
The floor is divided by genre, and has secondhand editions of almost every title you can imagine—from bestseller books to obscure titles you found off the internet, and a standalone novel as well as the 7th book in a 20-part series. To the left, an entire section is solely segregated and dedicated to graphic novels, and many enthusiasts sit down there leaning against the shelves and dip into the books for hours before making a monetary commitment.
After spending hours upstairs, I scooped up a pile of yellowing but lovely books and went downstairs to the ground floor to take this relationship to the next level. Here, away from the accusatory eyes of my friend, I found myself gravitating towards books new and old. After picking a few new titles, my eyes were drawn to a stash of old books that were going to go upstairs.
I found an interesting pre-owned title and asked the man to pass it to me. Flipping through the book, I found the name of the previous owner and saw it was someone who shares my name! I was surprised,and felt a tingling feeling of serendipity, yet quietly added to the book to my pile and paid for it.
I knew that at Blossom, even the most unbelievable things can happen.