There is something grand about the looks on people’s faces when they walk into a bookstore. Many stop talking, if only for an instant, to take in the surroundings. Some slow their gait, allowing their eyes and sometimes fingers to linger over covers and spines. Lining every surface is a reminder that countless others are also thinking, talking, and making their way in the world through language, many languages. What have captivated me the most in my recent travels into and out of bookstores are the book displays. Stacks and stacks of pages and pages clustered adjacently, in varying heights to reflect the books’ differences in thickness. To see words penned in 2004 alongside those that first saw light a hundred years prior, sometimes more — this is nothing short of a feast for the eyes and a playground for the mind.
I initially started photographing displays at instances when I encountered the book “Open City,” which for many reasons I have developed a deep affection for; I was intrigued at first by the phenomenon that sometimes occurs when the world is suddenly replete with the thing that is in your head in that moment — kindred spirits who also eat on the run, the use of quotes by Rilke in the most unlikely of (pop culture) places, purple sneakers. But then I began to take notice of how Cole’s book was situated alongside other books, sometimes next to other best sellers, other times near its temporal contemporaries. The visual landscapes of book displays suddenly became fascinating and as I looked each time I was in a new bookstore, my anticipation grew: who would I find sitting next to whom today? Edges of books were put together, perhaps intentionally or perhaps haphazardly, in arrangements that suggested new connections, called up past textual memories, invited interpretive reconsiderations. The collage is a sampling of these displays, each its own corner of paradise.