Book Fairy Stories: Wandering Book from Herceg Novi

On July 31st, our official Book Fairy in Serbia, Lidija Kacar (@bookfairies_serbia) visited a lovely little bookstore in Herceg Novi during her vacation, which turned into a beautiful little adventure. We would love to share her story with you!

HI! I am Lidija Kacar!

This story began 8, 9, or maybe even 10 years ago, but for some reason I’ve never tried to find out the exact time-frame. I love starting this stories like this, making it prone to subjective interpretation, like almost everything in life is – based on our perception of the world. This is a story about a book and the mix of sadness and happiness while letting the book go; it is about coincidences in life and a lovely feeling of not trying to control everything.

The first visit

It was my first time in Baošići, a little place near Herceg Novi. I remember not bringing a single book to the beach, so one hot summer day I convince Nada, my friend, to go with me to a lovely bookstore called Salt Bookstore in Herceg Novi, which  I had noticed  two or three days ago. This is the kind of bookstore that you cannot simply walk past. The doors are open, there is light coming in, a lot of books stacked in no particular order and outside the green paint makes you feel at ease. At the bookstore, my touristy eyes find the book “Wandering Man from the Bay of Kotor” by Nikola Malović. I remember reading this book and feeling as if I were in some kind of weird dream where I could not understand what was going on, but the overwhelming feeling of melancholy was everything I felt at that time.

A month ago, I found out about The Book Fairies Worldwide and I started hiding books in Serbia. However, there was no known book fairy in Montenegro and I knew exactly which book I would be leaving behind, as I drew to the end of my vacation this year. Of course, I had to reread it first. And all these years later, not getting any smarter, I still did not understand everything but the amazing feeling of being in the Mediterranean and the overwhelming melancholy of leaving the Bay of Kotor all over again, was still there.

Just a few days into  reading of the book again, me and my friend went back to Herceg Novi and she noticed that the door of the bookstore was still open even at 11 PM. She told me: “Look, Nikola Malović is promoting his new books soon!” So we entered the bookstore and asked when they close the bookstore. The man at the counter replies: “Oh, well, there is no set open hours, we are open until we finish everything we need to finish.” So my friend asks about the promotion of the book and he tells us that it was a few days ago. Thanks to my friend who pushes me to talk to him, I tell him about the book fairies and how I plan on dropping a book from Nikola Malović one of these days. He seems interested and I sit in front of him talking about the project and I leave with the feeling that I should not have done this. I feel that I did not tell the story the right way, so I tell my friend: “Why did you make me do this?” But it’s okay, I moved on.

The Day of the Book Drop!

So I am all set to finish this vacation, tomorrow I will pack my bags and leave. I still have 20 pages or so to finish, so I rush. I read without really noticing what I am reading. I am all set, I have my book fairy sticker on the book, I wrote a little note and the book is still a little salty from the beach. It is a true souvenir for the lucky finder. So we go to Herceg Novi. I am in front of the bookstore and the doors are open as always. I try to take a perfect picture and my friends are being really patient about this. The square is full of people and there is music in the distance, but I don’t notice that. I am excited because I will drop the first book in Montenegro and also the doors are still open. I will be able to buy the very new book by Nikola Malović. I enter the bookstore and I want to ask the gentleman I spoke with earlier or tell him something about our earlier conversation, but I don’t. I just pick the book from the shelf and I hand it over to him. He takes the book, puts it in the bag with some flyers, tells me the price and I pay. I am ready to leave, but he asks: “I am sorry, what was that book you were just holding outside the bookstore, the blue one?” And I reply: “It is the Wandering Man from the Bay of Kotor by Nikola Malović, I talked to you about this a few days ago, I am ready to leave it for the lucky finder.”

“Did you like the book?” he asks.

“Yes, but even after reading it twice, I still don’t understand everything.”

“But twice?”

“Yes, but the first time I read it, it was 8 or 9 years ago, I was only 18 or so and I just…”

“What was the most difficult part?”

“I don’t know, the order of things, so many characters, so many events…”

“But you did understand that it was an anti-Odyssey, and all these characters and the feast at the end and everything…?”

“Yes, but still…”

“Are you sure you want to leave this book? Think again. I think you should keep it,” he says with sadness.

“I know, I would love to, but imagine someone finding it and reading the book and enjoying it as much as I did.”

So he smiles. “Where will you leave it?”

“Somewhere around the bookstore.”

“How can you part from this book?” he asks again.

“Well, I am sure it will find me again some day,” I smile.

“Please, can I mark your book?”

I hand the book over to him and he puts a seal from the bookstore on the front page.

I smile.

“Could I take a picture of you holding this book? I would like to put it on Facebook.”

“Of course,” I reply.

“And for the story… don’t worry,” he says, “I will write it.”

So I leave the bookstore excited. I tell my friends what just happened. We sit on the stairs and drink a glass of wine. I take out the book I just bought out and we talk. My friend mentions again something she said a few days ago: “Imagine if that was Nikola Malović at the bookstore. I don’t know why I just had that feeling.” I ignored her comment when she had said it a few days ago, but now I am curious. I open Google and search his name. A familiar face pops up on the screen and I smile! I tell my friend about it and she is super excited about this. I am not sure whether to return to the bookstore and ask him to sign this copy. But I leave it this way. I open the bag from the store and inside I find rocks packed in a little bag like a souvenir from the Bay of Kotor. Just like the original sea water from the book Wandering Man from the Bay of Kotor.

This is my souvenir which I will take with me from Herceg Novi and although I know I will return soon, this just feels like an end of a chapter. And the same way I feel when I finish reading a good book, I feel a little disoriented.

A Few Days Later…

This morning I open Facebook to find this story posted on the official Facebook page of the Salt Bookstore and below is the translation:

“Lidija from Belgrade visited the Salt Bookstore last night. She is a part of the movement (if you can call it this way) of book lovers who leave their favourite books for others – so who finds it, takes it!

Thus, she came to introduce us to the fact that she had read the novel Wandering Man from the Bay of Kotor twice and this time she wanted to leave it for someone who would find it by chance – and wished to read it.

Our efforts to convince her to keep the novel (perhaps she had reason to read it twice?) were not successful, so Lidija from Belgrade, after we marked her novel with the promotional seal, left the Salt Bookstore to make someone happy.

And then something strange happened: the locals reported to the Salt Bookstore that the novel by Nikola Malović was left on the side, maybe forgotten?!, and what else we could do than put it on the window, outside the bookstore, but in such a way that from the pages you could see a handwritten note that a novel can be freely taken by anyone.

Whoever has not yet gone to sleep, and is close to the main square of Herceg Novi, maybe could pick up the 4th of a total of 9 editions of one of the best-selling novels with marine, Boka and maritime themes of all time.

Thank you to Lidija from Belgrade. We did not get the impression that she connected Wandering Man from the Bay of Kotor, Bookstore Salt, and Nikola Malović. What gives this story even greater charm…”

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