Around the world in Bookshops - Mobile, Alabama


Bienville Books -The little shop wraps us in a hug.

We haul our luggage and weary traveling bodies to the 20th floor, throw open the curtains, and feel our hearts fill with admiration over the USS Alabama. My hands press the glass, as the ocean waves hit against the wall below us. A train runs along the track, and the seagulls spread their wings through the shifting clouds.

It’s all routine, as we’ve been coming to this location since the girls were 8 and 6 on our way to Disney World. One just turned 18, and the other turns 20 this week.

The ships come and go, blaring their horns, as we peer through the glass elevator, which overlooks the waterfront in Mobile, Alabama.

Going down, down. Closer and closer.

Throwing open the Renaissance Hotel doors, the girls lead the way down Dauphin Street. Ocean breeze rakes through our hair, before pizza dough and fresh peanuts scent the air.

There it is—Bienville Books. Everyone slows, not wanting to miss one minute of approaching the glass store-front. The bell jingles, and books dust themselves off, bellowing “welcome” from somewhere within the aisles of pages. Old and musty. The beauty of it all. Cherished friends. It doesn’t matter that we’re shabby from the day-long drive from Dallas, Texas, because we’re home away from home. The world between worlds.

My hands graze over all the hardback spines, as we stroll single-file to the stairs at the far end.


As we venture up one flight, the wood boards creak tears of joy upon our arrival. We’re treading on books, as the steps are lined with titles, like The Hobbit.

Our feet hit the landing, midway up the hallway—the kids’ section. The bindings are ragged, color slipping, frayed pages. The shelves boast Fairy Tales every child should know.

Look. That book. Dick and Jane. “Girls, this is from the first storybook collection I recall learning to read as a child in first grade, when I lived in Tyler, Texas.” A smile eases over my face, as the girls peer over my shoulders. I’d forgotten all about you. But oh, how I remember you so well.

Sitting down on the child’s step-stool, I take the treasure with care, gently flipping through the fragile pages. Their dog, Spot. “Run Spot, run!”

Time has taken its toll. We aren’t as young as we used to be, you and me. But we have so much in common, so much history together. You taught me so well.

The little shop wraps us in a hug, leaving us fragranced with memories, tells us how glad it is that we came, opens it sweet doors and, with a pat, sends us on our way to Disney World. Smiling. Fulfilled. Complete. Until next time.

This article was written By Shelli Littleton she descrives herself as 'I’m a simple, middle-aged girl, a Texan, and I’m blessed to be a mother to two little women. And I love all things Jesus, Texas, writing, and photography."