Two Sisters | Three Ladies

Two Sisters Bookery Book Quote

I’ve been in Wilmington this week with my family and of course we had to check out all the local bookish haunts.  I’ve been to Two Sisters Bookery before, but I couldn’t help wandering around again.  It’s one of my favorite book stores in North Carolina, partly because it’s local and Indie.  Also because it’s the perfect size to house just enough books that a reader doesn’t feel overwhelmed by everything they won’t read in their lifetime, but it leaves just enough room for the books to breathe.

Do you ever get that feeling from a book?  When it whispers and stutters and pleads for your hands against its spine.  It’s not a sexual thing, don’t think that, it’s more of an intimate moment between a reader and her own lust, her own wanderlust, or word lust, just simple lust of opening.  I’m not sure what it is for me.

I do know one thing about my romance with books, e-books will never fancy a date with me, their silicone sleeves and plastic buttons do nothing for my stained and smeared fingers, the sweat of my palms when I hold a book’s folds.  I can’t do e-readers, I can’t romance them and buy them decorative bookmarks, seal stickie notes across their sentences.  They leave me dry.

At Two Sisters, one minute I was looking at a card that said something along the lines of “when the winds of change come, all you can do is float, or adjust your sails.”  I thought this card was particularly poignant for Sars and then, the mumbling of sisters, the hushed voices of secrets and strands of hair sifting against one another by the sea, and the cackling, the giggling, the shuffling of pages.  Here was the almost silence of someone placing a palm against a door knob and then I’m next to it: Three Ladies Beside the Sea.  I’m rubbing its red fabric spine and deep blue cover, marveling over the way stick figure women look in Victorian dresses and it’s opened, and I’m opened.  I’ve awakened.

It’s like that with a book sometimes, or a lover if you’d rather peel apart fabric and find skin rather than parchment.

Three Ladies by the Sea

Three Ladies Beside the Sea is the child’s tale of three neighbors, one a little unusual and two quite satisfied.

They are Edith of Ecstasy, Catharine of Compromise, and of course Alice of Hazard.  Can you guess which one I found myself making a pact with, holding tightly against, as I walked toward the cash register? Don’t get me wrong, I walked around the store trying to find something, anything else to attach myself too.  Anyone else to take home for the night, knowing I’d finish Alice’s story on the car ride home as my own love weaves in and out of beach traffic.

And yet, nothing.  I couldn’t leave Alice and her life of climbing trees.  We were kindred spirits in barely five pages.  I had found her Derby hat desirable and her goals admirable.  I’m rhyming just thinking about it.

We both have a bird – in a tree.

Yes, that tree I discussed last week – the oak growing just outside my bedroom window.  When grown too long and during hurricane season it scratches and taps against the glass.  Well, this tree has a bird.  It’s home to a bird that spends every spring echoing against the rooftops.  It spends every spring with me.  I know because it has a fantastic sound and it has to be the exact same bird every year because I’ve never heard anything like it.

I’ve never even seen this one; he remains elusive and mysterious and lonely or lovely depending on why he’s singing this particular song.  I spend more time with this bird all spring than any actual person because he’s there at my waking, when I’m dawdling in bed during those stretching half-awake moments.  He spends the mornings with me when I write or read depending on how my mind feels like functioning.  He’s rarely home in the afternoons, but our mornings together are like waking up with a man you’ve known for generations, and yet run from in this life.

He must be a boy I once knew.

New York Review of Books: Classic

But anyway, I’m off in my own crazy here.  Alice of Hazard is searching for her song up a tree as well.  And thus why she must have spoken to me from under the shade of her Derby hat. Her lips against the winds that trees must feel, all the way up there and alone with their leaves.  This must be why we hug them sometimes.

I guess you could say this book found me.  Or rather, Alice has found me.  So many Alice’s and I can’t seem to please them all.

So I made chit chat with the store clerk, and let her fold Alice into a small brown bag with a green bookish stamp label and I held her against my chest until I reached the car.  It was only then that I cracked open every page, scanned every line, mouthed my lips through every rhyme and sentence making sure to read aloud for the other person in the car who is rarely intimate with books, but still has them on his nightstand.  He must be waiting.  I read the book, like I thought, in one sitting, buckled in and ignoring traffic merging around me, running yellow lights.

I fell deeply into that tree, rubbed my back against the bark of it and let my dress tangle in the stems and branches.

Now back at home, I will just wait until morning to hear my song of spring.

Here are some pictures from Two Sisters Bookery in case anyone is ever in Wilmington to see the history and the seas of North Carolina.  Or in case, you want to have your own experience of blind, speed dating, books.

Two Sisters Bookery | My romantic life with books

31 thoughts on “Two Sisters | Three Ladies

  1. annagergen says:

    I recently took a class about indie bookstores, particularly in my homestate of Minnesota. Absolutely fascinating stuff! It’s so sad that they’re slowly fading from the map. One of my goals this year is to support them financially when I can, even though ebooks on my iPad are cheaper and more convenient. I believe in the printed word, too. Sounds like you found a great home for books!

    • Cassie says:

      I adore Indie bookstores. Our local independent, Quail Ridge is really wonderful and they have all kinds of brilliant readings and discussions every month which as a book nerd … I’m totally into. I think Indie stores offer that much more…intimacy? I’m not even sure what the word is…uniqueness. They offer something the mass bookstores can’t. Although, I frequent B&N, I do always love the odd smell of the local, and the funky cards, and the small treasures.

      I have a Nook…and you’re right they are cheaper. I buy a lot of cheap classics on my Nook – or read them for free, but I barely read on that thing. I just can’t stand reading on it. I’m not sure why. I’d rather just hit the library. There are definitely books sitting on it, waiting to be read though.

  2. avian101 says:

    Dear C. I’love the seamless way you stitch words into an endless scarf that you use to wrap around the book review and squeeze it into a better story that stealthly blends to your own personal experiences. Or find any little parallel to the characters of the author’s imagination and make them alive! I love your tremendous imagination!

    • Cassie says:

      You need to start stitching words around because your comments (and you blog) are always beautifully written. And thank you, as always. You know just the right things to say to make me feel wonderful. Now my dad has started off great!

      • avian101 says:

        That’s the whole idea C. Your writing and miscellaneous talents merit a lot of credit. You deserve a bit of fun and and just like Jasper a bit of scratching on the top of your curly-hair head to make you feel good. I don’t mind doing it,

      • cookiejarprincess says:

        I tried to put into words last night how your writing has affected me but I ended up with those 5 words instead. At the risk of sounding sappy, this post (and the Hansel and Gretel post) evoked deep emotions for me.

        After reading the post about H&G, I literally felt the need to go purchase the book immediately so that I could submerge myself in the story that you so eloquently described. And I do not use the work literally unless I mean it. lol

        Reading this post about the bookstore, the descriptions of your love for books is so dead on with how I feel, in words I never could have strung together, that I am already planning to make a stop there on my vacation in August. I want to be in that shop, surrounded by those books, the smell of the paper, and the feeling that you are surrounded by a thousand friends who all want to tell you a story.

      • Cassie says:

        You don’t sound sappy at all, you should see how I blubber all over people’s writing in my memoir class this semester. It’s covered in stars and hearts and my thirteen-year-old girl writing about how much I looooooooved every second of it. They probably think I’m ridiculous.

        I’m so glad you felt the need to go out and buy the book. I’ve always been under the impression that reviews sometimes are so staunch, or so polite. I like writing reviews that really have feeling so people can know just exactly how the book touched me, or just exactly what memories it evoked for me. I know that’s not really what real reviewers believe, but I have to think that my own feelings on a book can move someone else to have those feelings, if I’m not scared to share them and be impolite sometimes. Or even just over indulge sometimes.

        I think so many of us book lovers try hard to be book snobs (at least I see it all the time, and believe me I’ve been there) and sometimes we forget just the little things about books. I’m so glad we could find a connection between our feelings of books speaking to us and how they fill space and everything.

        Do stop in August – you will absolutely love it and you’ll have to write me and tell me how you did. The owner is a special woman and she can stand and talk books with you forever, seriously. Plus, she doesn’t just place best sellers all around, she chooses each book specifically and places it perfectly within the stores sections. You’ll find books in there that you never even heard of and that she liked so she got copies for the store.

        Thank you for writing this longer post to me, as much as I like the wow’s, it’s always nice to read someone feeling the same things as me, or sharing a connection with someone over the way a page smells (you have to love that).

        “A thousand friends who all want to tell you a story…” you’re brilliant.

  3. melouisef says:

    We have now lost these little quant bookshops where you can chat to the owner who seems to know all her book. Now it is chain bookstores with bestsellers.. aand bestsellers are of the taste of the man in the street who like vampires and strange stuff which I cannot relate to
    That is why I like my Kindle because the choice is mine and I still get to page through the books.
    PS I live in South Africa and times have changed
    :)

    • Cassie says:

      Well then I totally understand your e-book using. Of course you need a kindle so you aren’t bombarded with best sellers that you have no interest in. That makes total sense. Had NO idea you lived in South Africa, but it definitely excites me. You should write a blog about Books in South Africa, I would LOVE to read that.

      • melouisef says:

        Lol Cassie
        I think we have exactly the same books as you have in America except maybe it appears in bookshops about 2 weeks later. Amazon does not allow countries from outside the U S of A to buy some books for Kindle but only because of some software regulations.

        And then of course we have books in Afrikaans (one of our languages which sound a lot like Dutch) and although I speak the language I do not read the books. Don’t ask why, I probably could not give you a sound answer but you will see for example Deon Meyer’s books (a popular writer of Afrikaans mystery and detective
        works) translated into English in America too.
        I would imagine that tastes here are much Americanized and I could put you in a shopping centre here and you would swear you are somewhere in the USA.
        Be sure to come and visit
        You are invited
        :)

      • Cassie says:

        Oh my gosh – read in Afrikaans! I think the person who speaks only English is dying inside right now. I so wish I spoke something other than English. I studied French for five years and I think if I was placed in France, I wouldn’t have a clue how to do anything but order a baguette. At least I’d survive if someone could point me to a bathroom.

        I probably looked like a real idiot asking about books, but when I was in Australia there were SO MANY Australian authors that I had never seen or heard of in the US. I was just so disappointed with the lack of book travel, I guess that would be the … phrase for it? I’m not even sure. I just discovered so many writers that I would have never known here and it was both disappointing and satisfying.

        I challenge you to read a book in Afrikaans. If only for me, haha. I’m selfish that way. : )

  4. evilolive says:

    I just moved to Wilmington in August (getting my MFA at UNCW) and I am ashamed to say I have never been to Two Sisters. I will change that soon. Thanks for the recommendation and review!

    • Cassie says:

      You should totally go – it’s wonderful. I’m sure you’ll love it. What are you getting your MFA in? I was waitlisted there for poetry but didn’t end up in the program. I’m very much interested in studying there still, but there’s other programs I like as well. : )

  5. Bea says:

    Could you make a change here, add a little bit there? I was so enjoying reading this blog. It was so much like a sweet short story that I didn’t want to end. At one point, I was touching pages and then I was up in a tree.
    Lovely writing BW, even if I am your Mother.

      • grainsifter says:

        The thought of you reading it at once delights and intimidates me. Maybe I’ll wait until the warmer weather comes so you can read it with the laxity of a beach book.

        P.S. Did I mention how much I love that your momma reads/comments on your blog? Makes me smile every time.

      • Cassie says:

        Unfortunately for you, I went to the beach this week and so it’s appropriate beach season right now. I promise to read it with laxity and relaxation, but I don’t promise that I won’t complete it in one sitting because it’s going to be THE BOMB DOT COM. (Yes, I’m so excited I’m using a 90’s phrase).

        I love that she reads every blog too. Sometimes she pretends she’s just an everyday follower and other times she comes out as my mother, like today. On her way to bed she stopped by my room and said “Oh goodness, is everyone going to want to know what BW means now?” I think she should blog, but until then I’ll just have to write about her, and let everyone read her brilliant comments. : ) Do your children blog (are they old enough?) Or do they read your blog?

        I always worry about eventually having children and they reading the strange things I write sometimes on here, and in my journals. I may have to coerce someone into burning my journals upon my death.

  6. Let's CUT the Crap! says:

    I LOVE small, intimate bookstore. I volunteer once a week at a charity bookstore. We’re all bookfreaks there. The only time I go home bookless is if I’ve been very stern with myself because I brought home too many the week before. I had to put up a new bookcase last week.

    I so understand your intimate relationship with books. Sometimes when I;m reading I just look up to see all my books watching me, rejoicing that I am enjoying one of their own. I pet them when I walk by. I can hear them sigh as I smile.

    • Cassie says:

      I just love reading everyone’s stories of their own bookshelves and the sounds they make, and the stories they tell. It’s making my whole world brighter.

      I had no idea you worked at a charity bookstore – you need to post about it. I want to go to your charity bookstore and run my fingers along those spines as you say. Ah, petting a book like it’s a family member – I’ve been there too.

      Everyone is writing such beautiful comments today, you sure do have a way with words, lady.

      I need to volunteer at a bookstore. I need to look into that. I can just hear their whispers all day.

      PS. no more being stern…be selfish. : )

  7. grainsifter says:

    “your” romantic life with books… better said “our” romantic life with you and your books because dahlin’ your writing makes us all fall in love with your words.

    Funny you write this post now, because I was going to offer to send you the ipad/kindle version of my little novel that could. Ha!

    • Cassie says:

      Listen lady, I’ll take that novel that could anyway I can get it. I have a nook…I just…hate it a little bit. It’s a love hate thing. But I can read your novel on my computer through pdf too. I’ll just die over that thing (picture me saying that in a Southern dramatic accent). More like – “I’ll just die ova that thang.” Maybe I just sound like a Steel Magnolia now though.

      You make my day. Let me know how you’re sending it, I won’t take no for an answer, it’s the most anticipated book of my year. : )

  8. cooper says:

    Was hoping you meant wilmington delaware because I can get to that in an hour or so…Wilmington NC, while a kewl place, is a bit of a haul. nothing better than local indie book stores…

  9. hadleykaden says:

    I live in a fairly large town and we have now lost all of our indie bookstores…save one children’s store. Which is my daughter’s most favorite place on earth!

    So this week when we will be traveling to the sea to spend Easter in my sister’s vacation home…we will be visiting a few of our favoriet indie bookstores.

    You are making me do that…why? My daughter asked me yesterday, can we go pleeeeaassseee! I said no, being an overly responsible adult and not wanting to commit to something! So you know what? Forget that…we are going! Thanks so much for reminding me about the importance of these small lovely places.

    • Cassie says:

      It’s so sad when I hear there are no indie bookstores somewhere. You should probably open one. : ) I do love that you have a children’s bookstore, reminds me of You’ve Got Mail with The Shoppe Around the Corner. I love it. I would love to attend a story time event there.

      I think you’ll get just as much out of a bookish vacation as your daughter and I’m glad you committed to it – yay books!

      • hadleykaden says:

        Yes, my daughter and I have a fun dream…We want to open a bookstore/coffee house called The Mangy Mutt (after her beloved dog)where there are many books, dogs are welcomed and all the coffee drinks sound a bit like this…Mocha Mutt, Longeared Latte…fun to dream!

      • Cassie says:

        I’m I want to go to this bookstore. FIrst I need to agree to let my boyfriend buy all of the dogs he wants and then we will be fun and fancy free to visit. That sounds wonderful. You could have a whole section of dog books with dog bones and dog reading. I love it.

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