How Books & Books Changed My Life
I found Mitchell Kaplan when I was a skinny, painfully shy16 year old living in East Little Havana. I am certain it was the workings of cosmic forces that brought me to him. Intuition and naiveté led me to Coral Gables one fateful afternoon, after learning from my creative writing teacher that a small independent bookstore not far from school was looking for help. After much anguish in trying to figure out where Aragon Avenue was and which bus would take me there, I was standing in front of a kind, sweet-looking man who after only a short while asked me to begin working the following week. Mitchell saved me from working at the McDonald’s on Calle Ocho & 27th Avenue, where I had been offered a job only a few days earlier. Years later we would often speculate about how my life would’ve turned out had he not taken me under his wing.
And so the rest is history. Books & Books became my life, the place I went to when I skipped school in the middle of the day - seeking refuge, wanting to take in more everyday and absorb all I had missed out on. It was where I discovered how to pronounce Rilke and Flaubert (Rilke would become one my favorite poets!). And where I discovered my love of photography. It was where I learned about tolerance, about the power of transformation, about being a misfit, and about other misfits. It was the place that shaped my sensibilities and helped me gain confidence. There I learned I could look at new people in the eyes. I grew up there. It was my college education and the place where I met those that helped define who I am today. To this day, the sense of comfort I feel when I am there is the same feeling as what other people might call “home”.