A bookstore hidden in an old street goes viral
Interior of Junge Bookstore (Picture photographed by Zhao Yingzhao/Vision Chongqing)
CHONGQING (CQNEWS) -- After walking for about 6 minutes through an old street from the bus stop on Huangjueping Center Street in Jiulongpo District, you will find Junge Bookstore. Most first-time customers are drawn to the abandoned railroad tracks that cross the front of the Bookstore. People always take a few pictures before walking leisurely into the Bookstore and ordering a 5-yuan cup of tea to savor the aroma of books and tea.
It was at around 3:00 p.m. and Junge Bookstore was very busy as usual. Gou Jun, the owner of the Bookstore, frequently sits down and gets up, making tea with smile for customers who come one after another.
Since its opening over two years ago, many people have fallen in love with the Bookstore at their first visit and have grown to love the culture and life of the place. The Bookstore is also popular with tourists, who have shared nearly 3,000 photos of the Bookstore on just one platform, Dazhong Dianping.
Why is the Bookstore so attracting?
An exploration of a revitalized old building
“The universe can be found in the pavilion with a half room and several windows; and Chongqing’s story can be learned with one cup of tea and two books.” The bungalow in which the Bookstore is located was built in 1977 and can be viewed through a pair of gates with a couplet attached: The bookshelves are stuffed with second-hand books on Chongqing’s literature and history; the desks transformed from door planks are filled with objects made by Gou Jun and given away by customers; the mottled walls are covered with maps from Gou Jun’s collection and abandoned door signs.
In 2018, Gou Jun retired from Chongqing Power Plant, and the Bookstore was founded in February of that year, “I have lived and worked in Huangjueping for decades, and I can’t leave this place, nor do I want others to forget it. I opened the Bookstore because I want to share my ‘treasures’ and attract people to come and feel the life of Huangjueping and the culture of Chongqing.”
When the Bookstore first opened, its popularity was lukewarm, which made Gou Jun feel slightly anxious. “How about playing some outdoor movies to attract people?” Gou Jun’s idea was endorsed by his family and friends. In April 2018, the Bookstore began presenting open-air movies. This move began to revitalize the Bookstore, not only enriching the cultural life of local residents, but also attracting many people to drive to see them.
Gou Jun invited Yi Yu, a postgraduate student in History and Geography from School of History Culture and Ethnology at Southwest University, to give a lecture at the Bookstore on July 4 of this year. This was the first time the Bookstore held a lecture. Gradually, the Bookstore’s popularity grew and the community became lively.
People who come to the Bookstore find that the book collection always surprises them. “Junge Bookstore is a treasure trove of unexpected Chongqing historical records,” Yuan Yu, a citizen, said. Citizen Zhang Ming has bought more than 10 books on Chongqing history and culture at the Bookstore, “I can always find any book I want at the Bookstore.”
A platform for exchange and learning
The Bookstore also releases cultural energy that subliminally affects many people.
“Reading a book can make my eyes ‘bright’ and Junge Bookstore is a great space to read and think.” Zhou Yi said that being in Junge Bookstore, he was immediately able to read in peace. Over time, he made a habit of carrying a book with him wherever he went.
Yi Zhou also enjoyed the lectures here and learned a lot about history and culture from them. Yi Yu and Dai Wang, a citizen, were both lecturers.
Lectures at the Bookstore usually last for about an hour and a half. However, after lectures, audience always has a conversation about the topics of interest during the lectures.
“One lecture on bronzes ended close to 5:00 p.m. After dinner, the audience and I exchanged a few more topics until 8:00 p.m. when we reluctantly said goodbye.” Dai Wang said he has made many like-minded friends at the Bookstore, “The Bookstore is a great space for learning, relaxing and socializing, which is why walking into the Bookstore for a cup of tea, a chat and a book is an increasingly popular choice for the public.”
A warm cultural space
The Bookstore also gives the neighborhood a cultural home.
A 92-year-old man on a crutch always walks to the Bookstore to read books and newspapers, and over time he and Gou Jun became friends in spite of the huge difference of age. The old objects such as a white teapot on display in the Bookstore are gifts from the old man. The simple objects carry the emotions of the public towards the Bookstore.
Like a magnet, the Bookstore also attracts many tourists to experience Chongqing’s historical and cultural atmosphere. During the National Day and Mid-Autumn Festival holiday this year, the Bookstore was so popular that Gou Jun gave away more than 200 copies of Chongqing’s transportation and travel maps to tourists. He also made a popular guest appearance as a tour guide, explaining the history of Chongqing to them.
Many tourists express their love for the Bookstore by writing reviews online and leaving comments in the guestbook. “Jun’s life is so enviable!” “The owner said that there are no rechargeable batteries, but charging is free there, which is awesome!” “Every corner of the place is filled with stories, full of beauty and the most natural magic.” Every single message highlights the warmth of the Bookstore.
Citizens and tourists have also warmed Gou Jun’s heart. Not long ago, Han Jie, a tourist from Beijing, came to the Bookstore for tea. He casually mentioned that he wanted to give some of children’s books at his home to the Bookstore. Gou Jun thought it was a joke, but the tourist did indeed send a large packet of children’s books to the Bookstore. In addition, Dai Wang presented the Bookstore with a projection screen, which made the conditions better for holding lectures.
“The kindness of everyone will also be conveyed through the Bookstore, making the community warmer.” Gou Jun said that he will be determined to keep the Bookstore running so that more people can learn about Chongqing and fall in love with it here. (Translated by Wang Huixin, Fathom Language Limited)