First of all, the reminder: the Slaves of Golconda are reading and discussing their next book soon — it’s Ruth Hall, and posts are due September 30th. Anyone is free to join the group; just write about the book on your own blog and/or join the discussion at Metaxu Cafe. It will be fun!
And now for the used bookstore. I spend a couple hours yesterday afternoon with friends (three of whom have blogs!) browsing in the Book Barn in Niantic, Connecticut. This is no ordinary used bookstore. It’s got multiple buildings, first of all, each of which is jam-packed with books, over 350,000, as I learned from the website. These buildings vary in size and in their holdings; there is the main barn, which is where the store first began and which has all kinds of subjects, from African American studies to women’s studies and woodworking. There is also an area called Ellis Island, which houses books new to the shop that haven’t yet been sorted. You can shop here, but nothing is alphabetized. Then there is the Annex, where the fiction is kept and where I spent most of my time.
There is also Hades, with this sign:
And there is the haunted book shop (horror, mystery, science fiction), the “last page” (travel, sports), and another building about a mile away, with a whole range of subjects.
And that’s not all — there also also sheds and tents and other makeshift spaces that hold books that you can look through on your way from one building to another. And there were goats! And cats too, and the shop owners offer coffee and donuts, just in case you tire yourself out from all that browsing.
It was a mix of indoor and outdoor shopping — people sat around on park benches and at tables scattered around the property, and you wandered indoors and out and hardly noticed the difference. It was lovely!
Of course I came home with some books:
- Elizabeth Taylor’s A Wreath of Roses. I love Elizabeth Taylor and want to read as many of her books as I can. This one is a Penguin edition, but it was also published by Virago.
- Vivian Gornick’s The End of the Novel of Love. This is a collection of essays on love in novels by people such as Kate Chopin, Jean Rhys, Willa Cather, and others.
- Margaret Oliphant’s The Perpetual Curate, a Virago edition. The store had a lot of Viragos, and I could have come home with a dozen, easily.
- Rosamund Lehmann’s The Weather in the Streets, another Virago. This is a sequel to her novel Invitation to the Waltz.
I will certainly be visiting this store again! After shopping, our group went out to dinner and told stories of bike crashes through much of the meal. These friends are readers, and they are also cyclists. Who could ask for a better day, right?