#IndieThursday Guest Post: Three Lives, Many Memories

August 25, 2011 #IndieThursday 3

Each Thursday, to celebrate #IndieThursday, I’ve asked authors, bloggers, readers & other lovers of books to write about how independent bookstores have influenced their lives, or the lives of those around them. Today I’m pleased to welcome Rosa Jurjevics, her blog is Type Faster

I was thirteen years old when I landed my first job working at the Three Lives and Company bookstore in New York City’s Greenwich Village. Spring was around the corner, so the city was filled with the promising dampness, and I often found myself lost in daydreams as I swept the sidewalk outside in the sweet air.

The bookstore’s then-owners, the inimitable Jenny Feder and Jill Dunbar, put me to work in the basement, where returns were boxed and cataloged. I was a tall, slightly androgynous teen with long arms and a slouchy walk typical of my age, and I had to bend almost double to avoid hitting my head on the basement’s ceiling-maze of pipes and beams. Adjacent to the boiler room, there was a small desk area for me to work at, giving the place a sweet if not entirely habitable feel. It was hot there in the bowels of the store, and the floors creaked and groaned as customers perused the considerable collection above me.

Sometimes, if I was very lucky, I could emerge from the depths and work alongside Jenny and Jill, slipping plastic dust covers onto rarer books or replenishing the shelves with overstock. It was pure pleasure to be up there, watching Jenny and Jill and the customers. The store itself was then and is now a beautiful place, done in dark wood and illuminated softly by green-shaded banker’s lamps that I have coveted since I was a small child.

On the exterior, Three Lives and Company resembles a shop one might have seen on a London street in the 1920’s – or so I imagine – but is not so much a period leftover as a perennial mainstay.

While my time there was brief, as I was packed off to summer camp that summer, my Three Lives days are some of my fondest. Working there instilled in me a deep sense of commitment to independent bookstores, to their spirit, to their aesthetics, and to their championing of the literary experience. Passing in on my way through the Village, no matter how late I am to wherever I am going, I always must stop, peer in the window, and remember.

ROSA JURJEVICS is a writer, video editor, blogger, and cat wrangler. By day, she produces videos for a children’s publishing company; by night, she scribbles stories, often with a fountain pen. Her blog, Type Faster, lives here.

Participation in #IndieThursday is simple: just visit your local independent bookstore, either in person or online. Tweet what you purchased, as well as the name of the store, using the hashtag #IndieThursday. Help celebrate indie bookstores!

If you would like to do a guest post on how independent bookstores have influenced your life, please email me at jennsbookshelfATgmailDOTcom.

3 Responses to “#IndieThursday Guest Post: Three Lives, Many Memories”

  1. Pam

    Oh what fun! This is such a beautiful, thoughtful post. Thank you for sharing your experience.

  2. Evan

    Lovely. That bookstore is my favorite in New York, and I used to (okay, I still) fantasize about working there. Nice to hear the tale of someone who did. Your description really brings the place to life.

  3. Joan

    Thanks for this beautiful rendering of 3 Lives plus Jenny and Jill, Rosa. I used to live nearby and that store was a beacon for people who loved to read. My fantasy was to be Jenny and Jill’s friend — after all, they were the geniuses who created this amazing world. I wanted in. You are a lucky duck to have hooked up with them at 13!