Home-Like Bookstore, for Reading Lovers

ByXie Lin December 25, 2023

Home-Like Bookstore, for Reading Lovers

In Qijiang District, in southwest China's Chongqing Municipality, there is a  home-like bookstore, established in 2003 by Li Ying and her husband, Zhang Yubo. Li and her family love to read. The couple has organized creative activities in the bookstore, such as giving lectures on traditional Chinese culture, hosting book-exchange markets, and designing picture books. Li's family was selected a National Most Beautiful Family in May.

Home-Like Bookstore, for Reading Lovers

Reading a Habit During Children's Growth

Li was born into a soldier's family. "My father worked in a public-security bureau after he retired from the army and transferred to civil work. My mother used to work for a book-sales department. My father liked reading. When I was young, my father often took me to read upon a hill, which was near our house. When my parents celebrated my birthday, every year, they gave me books as gifts," Li recalls.

She has maintained reading as a hobby. She has shared her love for reading with her daughters, Zhang Lanyue and Zhang Lanxin. When her daughters were very young, Li and Zhang Yubo spent at least one hour before bedtime reading with their daughters. Zhang Lanxin, now 8, likes to connect what she reads in books with things happening in reality. The young student recalls a letter she wrote to her maternal grandfather, who had passed away. "I remember it is written in the book, The Little Prince: The stars shine so that everyone can find their own stars one day. Mom once told me, you were the star shining most brightly in the night sky," Zhang Lanxin recalls.

Li believes reading provides people with the simplest possibility of changing their lives. She has been "nurtured" by the books her parents have given her as presents. Now, she hopes to make reading a family habit, which will be inherited by her children.

Home-Like Bookstore, for Reading Lovers

Like a Child

During the summer of 2003, Li and Zhang Yubo opened a bookstore in Qijiang District. The couple named the bookstore "Blue Moon" — by using the given name of their eldest daughter, Zhang Lanyue. (In Chinese, "lan yue" literally means "blue moon.") They cherish the bookstore very much, as if they were raising another "child." They hope Blue Moon Bookstore will "accompany more local children during their growth."

The bookstore has two sets of big shelves, each standing opposite to the other. The shelves are filled with books, including literature and fine arts. Between the shelves, there is a glass-covered corridor, which reflects the shadows of the book shelves. As they walk into the bookstore, visitors might feel like they are traveling in "an ocean of books." Li says she hopes people, who love reading, will find books they like. "If visitors can obtain knowledge and strength after they come to our bookstore, they may visit us, time and time again. I will be proud if they become our regular visitors," Li says. She has visited many bookstores when she has traveled to other cities. She has constantly accumulated experiences, to make her family's bookstore more creative.

Home-Like Bookstore, for Reading Lovers

Li and Zhang Yubo have organized colorful activities in their bookstore. For example, they have held read-and-share meetings, child psychological health lectures, and public-welfare workshops on family education, pottery arts, making handicrafts, and creating children's picture books. Under the guidance of the women's federation of Qijiang District, the couple has organized weekly workshops on family education. Such activities make Blue Moon Bookstore more appealing to residents, and particularly to women in neighboring communities.

After two decades of development, Blue Moon Bookstore has attracted many regular visitors, who have grown up and established their own families, to bring their children to the bookstore. Li recalls her memories of two young women: "Xiaoni liked to come to our bookstore and read books when she was a student. She was fond of famous writer Zhou Guoping's works. Now, she works as a college teacher in Chongqing. She still comes into our bookstore every time she passes by.

Home-Like Bookstore, for Reading Lovers

"Xiaomi is another impressive visitor," Li continues. "She was shy when she was a little girl. She always read silently in our bookstore. One rainy day, I noticed Xiaomi's hair and clothes were wet, so I gave her a tissue. We had a chat, and I learned Xiaomi came from a single-parent family. I became a friend, with whom she could share secrets she had hidden at the bottom of her heart. Now, Xiaomi has left Chongqing and she runs a business. She often posts gifts to me."

For Li, Blue Moon Bookstore has given her opportunities to befriend people, from all walks of life.

Zhang Lanyue, currently a student at Hebei Academy of Fine Arts, and Zhang Lanxin, a primary school student in Chongqing, have both inherited the habit of reading from their mother. Blue Moon Bookstore, like another "child" of Li and Zhang Yubo, has also "grown up" well. The bookstore was named one of the "top-10 most beautiful bookstores" during a people's reading initiative, in Chongqing, in 2022.


Photos Supplied by Interviewees

(Source: The Department of Family and Children's Affairs of the ACWF / Women of China English Monthly September 2023 issue)


Please understand that womenofchina.cn,a non-profit, information-communication website, cannot reach every writer before using articles and images. For copyright issues, please contact us by emailing: website@womenofchina.cn. The articles published and opinions expressed on this website represent the opinions of writers and are not necessarily shared by womenofchina.cn.