When Your Favorite Bookstore Is Sacred Ground {Eighth Day Books}

I have wanted to blog about my favorite bookstore in the world for years now…but the task seemed daunting in my head, and created loads of writer’s block.  See, this place has been special to me for a good deal of my life.  I grew up going there and discovering  books, worked there during and after college, and have constantly returned to it’s hallowed walls year after year for incredible reads, inspiration and conversations with some of the most loving and brilliant people I know.  Quite frankly, it is almost as holy to me as a cathedral or temple, and often I feel the presence of peace and the divine in those walls more than I do at church.  It is a God-filled, light saturated, grace-laden place of beauty.  It is my happy place, and I’m so honored to share it with you.

 Eighth Day Books is publishing a book to celebrate their 25th anniversary this fall.  They have called out to everyone from famous authors to bloggers, customers and long-lost family members to share what Eighth Day has been to them in whatever art form they choose to express.    I’m sharing my essay for the book here with you on the blog today, along with some of my favorite photos.   I want you to know it and love it too.    Eighth Day has a wonderful website and blog, and you can order from them by mail, online or by phone.  (By talking to an actual, real person – gasp!).  They mail books all over the world, and people visit from far and wide.   Some of my favorite authors {hello, Lauren Winner} and musicians {Over The Rhine, anyone?} are friends of Eighth Day.  {To find out more about their upcoming book and anniversary, head over here.}  

eighthday

 

I deeply believe Eighth Day Books is sacred ground.  I was humbly blessed to work there for a few years (or so) in the late 90’s, at the cusp of my college graduation.   I learned volumes from owner & proprietor Warren–it was an utmost privilege to work with him.   He’s the only person in the world who calls me Sarai, which makes me unspeakably happy.   My fellow staff members were kindred spirits, as well as incredible thinkers and writers in their own right, and I was honored to learn from them as well.

edsigneditedagain

How can I describe my favorite bookstore in all of the world with the grace and utmost that it deserves?  Through the years, as I’ve returned to the Heartland after travels from the East coast to China,  every time my feet have walked through the glorious ‘Eighth Day Blue’ doors, my soul and spirit have taken a God-filled breath that is recognition of the deepest ‘yes’ to being home.

welcomedoormatedited

The music echoing through each nook and cranny is integral for me to the consecrated peace of Eighth Day.   Warren’s firm belief (with few exceptions) that the best music for reading is wordless led to my discovery of a bevy of tunes that are still a part of my personal musical library.   I still remember the joy of working alongside writer Bill Coleman, as Warren treated us to George Winston’s ‘Cast Your Fate To the Wind’ on repeat for hours on end.   (We happily retaliated with the smooth vocals of Ella Fitzgerald.)    Books are best served at Eighth Day with a side of piano, guitar and contemplative melodies.

cdlewsfriendsed 

I have been educated to the n-th degree in these wooden and stain-glassed walls about the richest and truest books I know…   It was at Eighth Day that I found my beloved copy of Madeleine L’Engle’s Walking On Water that has been earmarked and travelled the globe with me.  Eighth Day was the place I discovered the ‘wall of C.S.Lewis’, as I re-read The Chronicles of Narnia in college, and fully realized the incomparable beauty of story as truth.  I was overwhelmed in the best possible ways by the shelves of theology and poetry, and my artistic spirit began to break open when I first discovered Rilke’s Letters To A Young Poet and the wonders of  Czeslaw Miloscz.  These days, I return again and again to the shelves marked ‘If You Want To Write’ for inspiration and a writing education.

ifuwant2write

 hobbitholeedited

cupinsprmed

spiritualityroom

The ‘Spirituality’ room – which is filled with my favorite kind of books — feels like the most sacred room to me–the altar, if you will.  A pot of coffee always sits on the table, and sometimes a leftover baked good or two finds it’s way to a hungry reader during the holidays.  The stairs make a lovely and comforting creaking sound when you walk up to the second floor that feels like you’re coming home after a long day.   The tick of the clock by the stairway often hums in perfect time with the music.  The reading nooks scattered throughout are perfect for solitude or a good soul bearing conversation between friends–of which I’ve had many.

edbluechairedited

I usually prefer to first greet my friends behind the counter, then settle into the comfy blue chair (if its open – it’s pretty much the best seat in the house), perfectly located in the center room next to the Mediterranean spices for sale concocted by Warren’s wife, Chris.     I remember when musician Rich Mullins sat there, as we compared favorites books, and engaged in fun and feisty dialogue about the writings of Dorothy Sayers.   It’s the perfect place to chat with fellow kindred spirits, survey the beauty of the icons hung from floor to ceiling and breathe in the intoxicating scent of coffee and books.

IMG_3470

When I feel stressed or displaced, when I need to write,  or I’m simply needing inspiration,  Eighth Day provides a sacred space that allows me to breathe, to read, to heal, to find rest and restoration.   Eighth Day has been a touchstone for the holy in my life – a respite in this fallen world.

frontofededited

 What are some of your favorite ‘sacred spaces’ in the world?  

{Next Monday, I’ll be sharing my Eighth Day Playlist!}

8 comments on “When Your Favorite Bookstore Is Sacred Ground {Eighth Day Books}

  1. I really, really want to go! This is a beautiful tribute, and what a place. I’m a little jealous! I remember when I first looked at their site and saw there was a C.S. Lewis section, I was smitten. I can’t wait for your playlist!

    1. Thanks so much Katie – I’m glad you like it! 🙂 I wish I could get you a ticket, so we could hang out here! (I always tell Warren about you when I’m in the store and talking about blogging :). I actually don’t have a great pic of the C.S. Lewis wall in this post, but I know they’ll be one in the book – he’s got great pics up of Lewis, and the guy who plays Gollum in the LOTR movies signed a pic for Warren that’s posted there too :). I’m excited to write my playlist for next week, but also excited they are going to publish Warren’s playlist for the store in their book this fall! 🙂

    1. Awww, I wish I could bring you here! I’m soaking up Eighth Day whilst my husband and I are here for his job, b/c back in Texas, I am sorely lacking a bookstore like 8th Day. 🙂 Hope you are well my friend – excited to hear your new album!

  2. Beautifully written, Sarah. This captures a lot of how I feel about Eighth Day too. As I write this, I am listening to your playlist, and am loving it. Well done!

    1. Thanks so much for reading Bill – I’m HONORED, friend! Did you write an essay for 8th Day’s book this fall? (I think with your writing prowess, it would be EXTRAORDINARY 🙂 So glad you liked the playlist – it was fun putting it together. We are home currently for my husband’s job, and Eighth Day has become my favorite place to read and write once again!

speak your mind, share your heart