Saturday, April 30, 2011

Calling on The Book Lady in Savannah

Entrance to The Book Lady
If you are ever in the Savannah area, go to The Book Lady book shop.  This is an excellent used book store on
Liberty Street
in the Historic District.  It is located in the bottom of a building, almost like a basement, but it is cozy and well-stocked.  The main room has that comfy reading-room-feel, with a large well-worn sofa and easy chair by a fire place.  My husband got the kids some treats while I poked around.  I didn’t see the entire refreshment selection, but I know they sell coffee, water, prepackaged biscotti, and out-of-this-world oatmeal chocolate chips cookies (homemade by the store). 

As I wandered through the tiny shop, it revealed itself to be a labyrinth of shelves, hallways, and rooms practically spewing books.  The front area had a classics section and a regional section, as well as what appeared to be some first editions of better-known authors.  One room was dedicated to women’s literature and contemporary bestsellers.  The Book Lady had a small but interesting collection of literary criticism, as well as the obligatory shelf or two dedicated to Flannery O’Connor, whose childhood home was just blocks away.  The interior staircase had stacks and stacks of books resting on it.  What was the effect of all of these books, lying about and covering every wall?  I felt blissfully blanketed in spines and pages. 
Sign and shop window (look for the nib)
The beauty of a used book store is that you can’t go in with preconceived notions of what you will buy.  The Hub wanted to read The Fountainhead while we were on vacation, and I forgot to bring it for him.  I hoped I might find copy of it at The Book Lady, but I didn’t.  Amazon or Barnes and Noble, it ain’t.  Yet, a good used book store – like The Book Lady – is where the reader discovers hidden treasure.  You don’t know what’s in the chest, but you’re pretty sure there’ll be something valuable – like a bargain first edition or an out of print memoir or that children’s book you loved when you were little.  The only downside is that buried treasure requires the time and effort of digging.  Lengthy browsing, scanning pages, leaving no cover unturned.  It’s not the kind of thing you do with two kids in tow (like I did) or when you have thirty minutes left on your lunch break. 

Ah, if only I were a native Savannahian!  I would spend my Saturdays leisurely perusing The Book Lady’s unique stock until I found that one book I didn’t know I wanted.  Turning the pages of my prize on the comfy chair and packing my cheeks with homemade cookies, my new book would surprise and transform me. 

Buying new books is one of life’s great pleasures.  I buy new books from all sorts of places:  Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Independent sellers, even Target.  Sometimes my purchase selection is about price.  Sometimes it’s about fantastic displays that appeal to the consumer in me, or because an author is coming for an event.  Sometimes it’s a simple matter of convenience (book shopping while I’m making a toilet paper run).  But the used book store delivers a different experience.  It’s the experience of allowing Fate to deliver you exactly what you need to read exactly when you need to read it – it’s handing control of your literary choices over to the “powers that be”.  What could be more fun, spontaneous, and meaningful than that?

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