Thursday, October 28, 2010

Hole-in-the-Wall Bookstores

I get ridiculously excited when I go to a bookstore. But after working at one, they've become such normalcy that if I approach a bookstore it needs to be incredibly special for me to have a great reaction. Something has to make that bookstore special. Something about it needs to jump out of me and grab my attention. The way the store looks, it's prices, the books they carry, and special characteristics all go into this.

During the weekend I went to one of my favorite towns: Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania. I've written about this town many times simply because I can't get enough of it. Never have I gone there and not enjoyed my adventure to the fullest. Being nestled between a bunch of raging hills it's quaint and beautiful. It's a cross between Stars Hollow (ala Gilmore Girls) and Christmas all year long.

The past couple of weekends the town has been celebrating the fall. With train rides into the mountains, horse drawn carriage rides, fresh apple cider being sold on street corners, pumpkins on every doorstep, and all of the stores open and busy with customers it was pretty intense to visit. Especially since I was not expecting that many people all at once. However, the groups of people milling around on street corners or in doorways made it more comfortable, somehow I felt a bond with these people, even though I did not know their names.

There are two things I do every time I go to Jim Thorpe. So long as the stores are open I must visit the bookstore and the candy shop. The candy shop- Rainbow's End- is the one place I go to pick out my own box of candies. Every time I visit the town I get $6 worth of chocolate turtles then happily go on my merry way. It looks like what I think an old time candy shop would be. Bright colors, candy covering the walls, a counter with bins and bins of candy and ice cream served in the back. The best thing, in my opinion, is the huge display of chocolates. I love it. So much. But how sad is it that I don't know the name of the bookstore though? Pretty sad, but I think if I knew the name it would ruin my hole-in-the-wall aspect to it.

This particular bookstore is the span of a room and a half. you can tell the rooms were a former living room and small dining room. The books pile high and surround you, making the small store seem more comfy. There is typically a large table in the former living room that is covered in books. The walls, floor, fireplace, and windows have stacks. I can't get enough of it. I buy a lot of my books from this shop. Used books, gifts to people or simply books that were bought that people no longer wanted, all finding homes again.

This particular trip held two unexpected things. The bookstore has a new friend.

And directly across the street is ANOTHER book shop. One that I had never seen before! But first, let's cut back to the cat. Book Store Kitties is the very reason I adore book stores. Well, aside from the cozy book atmosphere. But to see a cat just relaxing, the expression of "I own this place, the human just tends to my needs." It completes the scene. This particular cat was very friendly and soft. I don't know it's name, I just called it "Pretty Kitty".

Now this other bookstore... I was shocked. Truly. Has this store always been here and I never noticed it? Is it new? Where did this store come from? It very well could have been there first but this place is literally directly across the street. You look out of the front door of one bookstore and you're looking into the front door of the other. I needed to go into this bookstore though, I needed to see what it held inside.

Books. And lots of them. Old books- hardcovers dating back fifty years or more. Beautiful classics in hardcovers with beautiful paintings. All over the place were these beautiful books that should be in a glass case and yet they were there- waiting to be purchased by me. Luckily, I only brought $20 with me and aside from needing to buy my $6 of chocolate from Rainbow's End- I walked away with only four books. (If I had more money, it would have been spent).

The brown book is actually another Charles Dickens book- a gift from 1965, from London, to an Emily. I saw the written words on the inside of the book and fell in love with it. Here was a former gift to someone. Maybe the woman gave the book away, maybe it was lost in a move, maybe she is no longer alive. But it was cherished at one point. Bought after making a choice in some bookstore in London, England.

I quickly bought the book, I didn't need to think very long about it. I should probably start writing my own name in books. Maybe, if I lose track of books in the future, someone will come across one of my books and wonder about me. Who is this girl Erica who wrote inside the book cover? I wonder where she is now, I wonder if she liked this book. Emily, I want you to know that I'll cherish this copy of Oliver Twist. It has found a new home.

If you are interested in visiting unique bookstores please check out Indiebound where you can find a list of independent bookstores in your area!

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