As a child, there is not a time that I can remember that our house was not encased and submerged in books. My mother was a librarian holding a masters degree in Library Science from Columbia. Don't you know I heard that enough as a kid!
Her love of books and reading was instilled in all her children, and as it so often happens, in her grand children. I fondly recall our trips to Downtown Lexington in the 1960's. To us it was the gateway to the rest of the world. It was our only glimpse outside of the farming community that held the answers to the mystery of life. It was vibrant, sophisticated and cosmopolitan. It was our New York City.
We always went to a small second hand book store on Limestone. The books were stacked everywhere and overflowing in the dark musty dusty shop. I must say this about my mother, she put little if any restrictions on our selections. I'm not certain why this is so. Perhaps she felt that if it was published as a book, it must have some sort of merit.
As children, and I mean under the age of 14, we were never restricted to the children's section or Young Adult (boring) areas. We could roam the stacks with abandon. I read Valley of the Dolls, Joy in the Morning, The Crowd, and Mr. and Mrs. Bo Jo Jones all before I left 8th grade.
No matter where I go, where I live, where I travel, where I end up upright, I look for the bookstores, preferably used. I am forever looking for that elusive copy of The World of Henry Orient, the original from the early 1960's. One of the scandalous books I read as a child and was ASTONISHED to find it re-issued as YA. What the hell are they thinking?? YA has certainly changed since I was doomed to the YA genre. But, I was never actually doomed to YA, thank God.
I was deeply saddened and horrified that C-ville had no used bookstores! I had to feed my addiction by browsing the Goodwill's for books. Just not right. 5th largest city in Tennessee. Go figure!
This is a list of the 13 bookstores that I have haunted over the years.
1) Dennis Book Store - Downtown Lexington on Limestone. Where it all started. Not certain what year it closed it door, perhaps when Mr. Dennis kicked the bucket. Where I began my phenomenal collection which has grown and shrunk like a living breathing creature throughout the years. Green front with dirty windows, books stacked everywhere, old bookshelves constructed from sagging boards, tables in the middle of the room with books scattered and calling to you to read me read me read me. And we did.
2) The Book Exchange on High Street & Tates Creek right off Euclid. One of my favorite places to search! Unfortunately, also closed. I remember the proprietor sitting behind the small area to the right when you walked in, surrounded by books and magazines. It was a second hand shop, specializing in paper backs. Nothing was arranged alphabetically and only a small fraction of the tomes made it to the shelves, but where stacked up from the creaky dirty floor until they threatened to topple over! The front window was filled with paperbacks also stacked to capacity to ensure every available space was taken up. Every so often you would find something you wanted from the window, but it was always faded from intense sunshine! He traded paperbacks. Two for one, and I was in there constantly. He has been gone a long time, maybe since the late 1970's. I could not find the name of the store on line but I remembered I might just have a surviving book from his immense collection. And I did - Jack Kerouac's On The Road. Price? $5.50 only!! (underlined) Collector! A lot of money in the 1970's!
3) Goodwill Bookstore on 51 in Horn Lake - my newest haunt. I love this place! They have such a fine selection of Cook Books that I can not stand it! On one of my "drop-ins" I found two vintage (from the 1990's) Gooseberry Patch Homespun Christmas cook-books. The last time I was in there I bought 7 books - $22.00. Not bad. And she said as I checked out (because I am in there at least twice a month) "You are such a well rounded person!" lol! My haul this time came mostly from the biography section.
4) The Book Cellar - @ the Main Lexington Public Library, in the cellar. My favorite of all time. When they opened, maybe in the early 1990's, I would be the only one in there. It is not that way any longer. My secret is out and now everyone goes there! Once I found a first edition of "The Vampire Lestat" for $50. But no Interview with the Vampire. Then they began selling the collectible stuff on e-bay. Bummer. I became addicted to travel books due to this shop.
5) Morgan Adams Book Store - Leestown Rd. Also Lexington. I believe that the Lexington area is one of the most educated area's in the US. the % of college graduates is extremely high, thus so many book stores! Alas, this one closed it's doors this past May. But all is not lost, it reopened when several employees purchased the inventory and assumed the lease. I began collecting hard backs because of this store! I use to be a cheap old paper back girl and then I graduated to hard backs. The store smelled funny. And I am being kind. It actually smelled like a bad tooth. Or really bad breath that I always associated with tooth decay. I still went in. Nothing comes between me and my addiction.
6) Hyde Brothers Book Store - Ft Wayne. Another wonderful used book shop. One of the best things about FW. Two stories because a huge collection is in the basement! That is where the travel books were located. Know what I loved most about this store? The old books that lived on the shelves really were alive! I would just randomly pull a book and discover all sorts of treasure's. Supposedly used as book marks.. I would find foreign money, old airplane tickets, business cards, girl scout identification cards from the 1940's. It was just like unearthing messages from the past.
7)Carmichaels - Louisville, new book store. Independent and full of great stuff. Note cards, postcards, moleskines etc.
8) Joseph-Beth - Best ever new bookstore. I believe that they re-invented the traditional book store. When it first opened at Lexington Green it occupied a different space. Smaller and more intimate, with huge comfortable arm chairs for you to sit and read! And, before cell phones, free land line phones peppered the stacks. I loved that. I used them all the time. Jo-Beth went the route of over expanding and not having a crystal ball to foresee the evil Kindle. Yet she endured, being bought from bankruptcy by the shopping center. A destination spot for anyone who knows anything coming to Lexington. You will just have to go and find out why!
9) Hawley-Cooke - Lousiville. A sort of clone of J0-Beth, but was snapped up by Borders in due time. Fantastic magazine selection. Several locations and fantastic marked down section.
10) Borders - You know, for a new bookstore I like Borders. I especially like the cards and what not's. I do not like Barnes and Noble. Go figure.
11) The Book Corner - New &Used book store in St. Mathews, a suburb of Louisville. I have found some fantastic stuff in there when I was looking for something specific. And that is very cool for a used book store.
12) Twice Told Books - Bardstown Road. Closed but not forgotten. A musty dusty shop with books stacked everywhere. Great name and I believe he is operating on line now, or was at one time.
13) Burkes Book Store - Used, Cooper -Young area Memphis. Love this store too! The civil war section is to die for. Laid back staff and wonderful stacks to get lost in. Rocking chairs readily available in every little nook and cranny.
There are many more, but I am going to stop for now!