Yesterday was the perfect day for a drive – cool, cloudy, and not much traffic since it was a Saturday. The husband and I hopped in the car and headed for a used book store about an hour from home. A friend from work had told me about the place. Turns out it’s the third largest used book store in our state. When we got to the tiny town it was in, we parked right in front of the store. (Well, actually the husband parked the car, as I cannot parallel park to save my life.) The store front looked quaint and small. But when we got inside, it was rather like Alice in Wonderland and the rabbit hole. The more we meandered about the place, the larger it grew.
Just inside the front door were books in glass cabinets that looked fragile, as if they might crumble if handled. There were signs warning that the books needed to be handled gently. But the rest of the store had books begging to be picked up and looked through. No matter where my eyes cast about, there were shelves loaded down with hardcovers and paperbacks. There were also piles of books stacked on the floor, waiting for shelf spots. Where, oh where to begin…
Art history books. Architecture and carpentry. Crafts. Fishing. Science and biology. Old fiction readers for school children from the early 1900’s. Tiny yellowed dime-store paperbacks from the mid-1900’s. Classic science fiction. Whodunit mysteries. Horror, romance, and inspirational fiction. And westerns – more western novels than I have ever imagined existed. But the bulk of the fiction area – spread over two rooms – was general fiction, sorted alphabetically by author’s last name. Fiction written a few years ago, fiction written decades ago. When I thought we’d seen every row of books, I spotted a wooden stairway and realized they had a lower level full of books too! Downstairs were books about just about any country you could think of, as well as Native American books and other non-fiction topics.
There’s just something about a used book store that is more satisfying than picking up my Kindle or stopping in a Barnes and Noble to see what’s new. It’s the smell of old ink and newsprint paper. It’s the old-fashioned book covers with their hand-drawn artwork. It’s the creak of old bare wooden floors under the feet. It’s the soft, worn feel of pages that have been turned many times. It’s the peaceful, languid pace of folks wandering about. It’s the quietness – no elevator music or loud conversation. Time seems to stand still while you are there.
If you’ve never been to a used book store, ask your friends or neighbors where to find one in your area, or google it on your computer. It make take an hour to drive to one, or you may be lucky enough to have one in your area. Don’t pass up the chance to be like Alice and wander into the rabbit hole!