“A place isn’t a place until it has a bookstore.” This line resonates in my head long after I put down Gabrielle Zevin’s The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, which I reviewed yesterday. It makes me think that as long as there are people who care about books, bookstores will not die. Despite the staggering rent in my hometown, Hong Kong, bookstores still thrive in silence. Whether they are corporates like Eslite (from Taiwan) and Page One (from Singapore) or indies, there are people who are passionate about the business sustaining them. Reading is more than a hobby in the same way a bookstore is more than a business. It’s where readers come together to talk about books and spur one another on to more books. I know I’m sentimental when I talk about how I long for the feel of a book in my hands and prefer the pages in my hand over e-reader. Bookstores attract the right kind of people: stubborn, gentle, patient, thoughtful, and composed. Every cover in a bookstore is a door that turns on magic hinges. Bookstores are dreams built of wood and paper. They are time travel and escape and knowledge and power. They are, simply put, the best of places. Perhaps that is the best way to say it: printed books are magical, and real bookshops keep that magic alive.