Of Books and “Bums” – The Thinking Man’s Coffee Shop That Caffeinates You With the Classics
Name: JC Beans Coffee House
Where: Dana Point, CA
Pros: Great books and great-for-your-backside chairs
Cons: Too small, limited parking, and not all chairs are cushy. Coffee is okay, not great (I like mine a lot stronger, and with a more robust flavor.)
Your brain called. It wants its attention span back.
Enter one of my favorite new coffee shops—a java joint with cushy chairs that actually encourages you to—gasp!—read a book. And not just any books, but classic works—Keats, Hugo, Twain, Defoe, Shelly, Shakespeare … they’re all here, lining the shelves of this espresso establishment.
Be advised: These books aren’t to be quickly scanned and hastily digested, their contents easily forgotten as soon as the next shiny new story or tantalizing tale comes along. Think of them instead as repositories of knowledge and purveyors of truth that will awaken your dying brain cells—fueling your imagination (not imagine for you), while causing you to ponder your place in the world.
They will also, without fail, make you want to become a better version of yourself.
It’s a proven fact: reading the classics will sharpen your mind, develop your character and, most importantly, summon you to a higher plane of existence beyond acquiring possessions, indulging in feckless fancies or pursuing the proverbial American dream at the expense of your own soul.
I know of what I speak. Growing up, all I did was read. Books were my sole form of entertainment, as this was pre-internet, pre-cell phones, and thanks to my parents, very limited TV access. Robinson Crusoe, The Chronicles of Narnia, A Wrinkle in Time, King Arthur and His Knights of the Round Table, To Kill a Mockingbird, Pride and Prejudice, Les Misérables, The Call of the Wild, Little Women, Brave New World, Fahrenheit 451, The Count of Monte Cristo … these were just some of the literary influences that helped shape my worldview and form my moral core.
Holed up in my third-floor, early-1900s Victorian hideaway, my ever-loyal stuffed animals snuggled close by my side, my introverted self turned to these books for friendship, instruction and solace in what at times felt like a sinister world. I learned life’s most valuable lessons not from my mother’s knee or my father’s counsel, but from the characters contained within the pages of these classics. From Aslan of Narnia (Chronicles of Narnia), the mighty “lion king” who struck fear and loathing in polluted souls but created a deep spiritual longing in hearts that were true, I learned about God’s love—before I even believed in Him. From Atticus Finch (To Kill a Mockingbird), I learned about the force of character, the power of conviction, and the equality of all men. From Meg Murry (Wrinkle in Time), I learned not to despise my weaknesses, as they could very well be my greatest strengths.
From Edmond Dantes (The Count of Monte Cristo), I learned that suffering may come for a season, but in the end justice will be meted out if we are tenacious, don’t lose hope and keep our eyes on the prize. From Dantes, I also learned the liberating power of education, a theme not dissimilar to the dystopian novel Fahrenheit 451, in which author Ray Bradbury paints a chilling picture of what a world without learning and books would look like.
As Bradbury said so well, “You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them.”
So kudos to JC Beans Coffee House for offering its patrons a place where they can linger and learn, reflect and be renewed, weep and become wise—inner transformations that invariably take place when we read the time-tested classics. These extraordinary authors may be long gone from this world, but their words are breathing still.