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Topic: Wanted: Titles of books depicting strange or unconventional bookstores

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Subject: Wanted: Titles of books depicting strange or unconventional bookstores
Date Posted: 3/11/2008 8:08 PM ET
Member Since: 6/9/2006
Posts: 23
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Okay...so this request is a bit out in left field. Alright...way out in the left field bleachers. I have my reasons.

I am interested in in novels featuring strange, odd, or unusual bookstores as part of the narrative. If you have a title in mind and can briefly summarize what it is about the bookstore that makes it so unconventional, so much the better. I you know the author and/or title,please supply it.

I am not  focusing on strange, odd, or unusual libraries...so those of your ready to nominate Richard Brautigan's The Abortion: An Historical Romance, please sit down. (That said, those of you who haven't read it, do so. And when you are done, keep in mind that several years ago several people actually had  go at creating such a bookstore. I can say no more. )

Where were we? Ah, yes.. If you have a short story you've on the topic--and I know Harlan Ellison did one or two--feel free to give me a brief synopsis, too.

With profuse thanks in advance,



Date Posted: 3/12/2008 11:59 AM ET
Member Since: 8/27/2007
Posts: 3,326
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There is a running theme throughout the books by Lilian Jackson Brown (The Cat Who ... ) mystery series.  The bookstore is run by a very old gentelman and supervised by his cat (naturally). He has haphazard stacks of old and ancient books and knows just where everything is.

There is also a series of mystery books with titles like Unbound, Untitled, Unpublished etc and book stores, book sellers and publishing are the main themes thoroughout the series.

Is this the kind of thing you are looking for?

Date Posted: 3/12/2008 8:38 PM ET
Member Since: 1/4/2008
Posts: 389
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The only thing I can think of would be "84 Charing Cross Road".  Probably not odd enough.  It's the story of a woman who lives in Brooklyn (I think) in the '40's (?) who is looking for English literature.  When she can't find it locally she tries writing to a bookstore in London, where she strikes up a correspondence/friendship with the owner of the bookshop.  Over the years he finds various books for her, she sends gifts of food to him and the bookstore employees during a time of rationing of food.  (Maybe it was way back during WWII?)  The book spans quite a few years.  Anyway, I loved the movie and just found the book at a sale.

That last mystery series that Denise mentioned sounds interesting!  I just looked them up. They're by Julie Kaewert and I've added several to my reminder list.  Untitled, Uncataloged, Unsolicited and another I can't remember.  Hope I haven't hijacked the thread by getting a little off topic. =0)

Last Edited on: 3/12/08 8:43 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 3/12/2008 11:02 PM ET
Member Since: 6/1/2005
Posts: 295
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The Secret of Lost Things takes place in a NYC bookstore



Date Posted: 3/13/2008 12:52 PM ET
Member Since: 12/22/2007
Posts: 589
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The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon.

This is a partial from the inside cover.  To console his only child, Daniel's widowed father, an antiquarian book dealer, initiates him into the secret of the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, a library tended by Barcelona's guild of rare-book dealers as a repositiory for books forgotten by the world, waiting for someone who will care about them again.

I included a link that has more information about the book.


Date Posted: 3/13/2008 1:36 PM ET
Member Since: 2/9/2008
Posts: 67
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The Shadow of the Wind was my suggestion too. 


Also, it's been a long time since I read The Bookman's Wake, and that series, and I know that the guy is an antiquarian book dealer, but does he have a store?

Date Posted: 3/13/2008 6:54 PM ET
Member Since: 8/22/2006
Posts: 336
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The Haunted Bookshop and Parnassus on Wheels by Christopher Morley

“When you sell a man a book,” says Roger Mifflin, protagonist of these classic bookselling novels, “you don’t sell him just twelve ounces of paper and ink and glue — you sell him a whole new life.” The new life the itinerant bookman delivers to Helen McGill, the narrator of Parnassus on Wheels, provides the romantic comedy that drives the novel. Published in 1917, Morley’s Þrst love letter to the trafÞc in books remains a transporting entertainment. Its sequel, The Haunted Bookshop, Þnds Mifflin and McGill, now married, ensconced in Brooklyn. The novel’s rollicking plot provides ample doses of diversion, while allowing more room for Mifflin (and Morley) to expound on the intricacy of the bookseller’s art.  From the  Introduction by James Mustich, Jr.

Date Posted: 3/13/2008 11:03 PM ET
Member Since: 11/21/2007
Posts: 3
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One of the main characters in The Thirteenth Tale works (and her father owns) a used book store.  The

book spends a lot of time outside of the store though.



Date Posted: 3/14/2008 12:17 AM ET
Member Since: 4/3/2007
Posts: 699
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I just found this one at Goodwill last week.  It was a quick read, somewhat slow*, but the shop itself was kind of interesting. 

The Bookshop
Penelope Fitzgerald 

In 1959 Florence Green, a kindhearted widow with a small inheritance, risks everything to open a bookshop - the only bookshop - in the seaside town of Hardborough. By making a success of a business so impractical, she invites the hostility of the town's less prosperous shopkeepers. By daring to enlarge her neighbors' lives, she crosses Mrs. Gamart, the local arts doyenne. Florence's warehouse leaks, her cellar seeps, and the shop is apparently haunted. Only too late does she begin to suspect the truth: a town that lacks a bookshop isn't always a town that wants one.

*Edit - know what I mean?  It was quick to read, but the story itself was kind of slow.  :o)

Last Edited on: 3/14/08 12:20 AM ET - Total times edited: 3
Date Posted: 3/14/2008 1:40 PM ET
Member Since: 6/6/2006
Posts: 356
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I thought of 84 Charing Cross Road too! Not necessarily unusual, but a good quick read!

Date Posted: 3/14/2008 2:18 PM ET
Member Since: 11/27/2006
Posts: 1,768
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Not sure if this is what you are looking for, but it sure does sound interesting.


Time Was Soft There: A Paris Sojourn at Shakespeare & Co.

In 1999, Jeremy Mercer fled Canada for Paris with nothing but his meagre savings. Nearly homeless, he met George Whitman, owner of Shakespeare & Co. In exchange for work in the legendary bookstore, Whitman allows struggling writers to live in and around the shelves. He offered Jeremy a cot. Here begins a charming story of Paris, passion, and, of course, books.


“Some bookstores are filled with stories both inside and outside the bindings. These are places of sanctuary, even redemption---and Jeremy Mercer has found both amid the stacks of Shakespeare & Co.”
---Paul Collins, author of Sixpence House: Lost in a Town of Books
In a small square on the left bank of the Seine, the door to a green-fronted bookshop beckoned. . . .

With gangsters on his tail and his meager savings in hand, crime reporter Jeremy Mercer fled Canada in 1999 and ended up in Paris. Broke and almost homeless, he found himself invited to a tea party amongst the riffraff of the timeless Left Bank fantasy known as Shakespeare & Co. In its present incarnation, Shakespeare & Co. has become a destination for writers and readers the world over, trying to reclaim the lost world of literary Paris in the 1920s. Having been inspired by Sylvia Beach’s original store, the present owner, George Whitman, invites writers who are down and out in Paris to live and dream amid the bookshelves in return for work. Jeremy Mercer tumbled into this literary rabbit hole and found a life of camaraderie with the other eccentric residents, and became, for a time, George Whitman’s confidante and right-hand man.

Time Was Soft There is one of the great stories of bohemian Paris and recalls the work of many writers who were bewitched by the City of Light in their youth. Jeremy’s comrades include Simon, the eccentric British poet who refuses to give up his bed in the antiquarian book room, beautiful blonde Pia, who contributes the elegant spirit of Parisian couture to the store, the handsome American Kurt, who flirts with beautiful women looking for copies of Tropic of Cancer, and George himself, the man who holds the key to it all. As Time Was Soft There winds in and around the streets of Paris, the staff fall in and out of love, straighten bookshelves, host tea parties, drink in the more down-at-the-heels cafés, sell a few books, and help George find a way to keep his endangered bookstore open. Spend a few days with Jeremy Mercer at 37 Rue de la Bucherie, and discover the bohemian world of Paris that still bustles in the shadow of Notre Dame.
“Jeremy Mercer has captured Shakespeare & Co. and its complicated owner, George Whitman, with remarkable insight. Time Was Soft There is a charming memoir about living in Whitman’s Shakespeare & Co. and the strange, broken, lost, and occasionally talented, eccentrics and residents of this Tumblewood Hotel.”
---Noel Riley Fitch, author of Sylvia Beach and the Lost Generation: A History of Literary Paris in the Twenties & Thirties
“There does seem to be something about the odd ducks that work at bookstores. Jeremy Mercer has captured the story of a wonderful, unique store that could only be born out of a love for books and the written word.”
--- Liz Schlegel, the Book Revue bookshop, Huntington, New York


Subject: THANK YOU from "opsimath1"
Date Posted: 3/19/2008 9:39 AM ET
Member Since: 6/9/2006
Posts: 23
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You have to say this about many paperbackswap.com readers: they are a diverse lot with esoteric reading interests and a willingness to  share the visceral joy of reading. How can you not appreciate people like this?

I thank you all for your suggestions and ask you to keep this request in mind. Poll your friends, lovers amd dentists. (Of course, the person you have in mind may play all three roles.) Perhaps they know additional titles you can suggest.

Again...this is a strange request, but it's important and your fedback is helping me quite a but. So keepup the good work!

Thought for the day: Saviour self.

Kind regards and best wishes,

opsimath1 (Paul)

afterthought--Did any one run out and buyThe Abortion: An Historical Romance (Brautigan) as I suggested?

Date Posted: 3/20/2008 1:02 PM ET
Member Since: 11/29/2007
Posts: 526
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Eileen Cook's Unpredictable features a bookstore called Stack of Books that contains only obscure/hard to find books and offers to find anything within a few days.

Deirdre Martin's Fair Play and Total Rush feature a bookstore called The Golden Bough that sells mostly occult books and smells of buring incense.

Date Posted: 3/20/2008 2:16 PM ET
Member Since: 8/14/2006
Posts: 626
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No.  But I have written down every book suggested.

Date Posted: 3/20/2008 2:49 PM ET
Member Since: 11/17/2006
Posts: 182
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Not sure if this fits what you're after, but the Harry Potter books have several scenes that take place at and/or involve a bookstore called Flourish and Blotts, which is a wizarding bookstore that the Hogwarts students get their textbooks from.  For more detail, see here:  http://www.hp-lexicon.org/wizworld/places/w_pl_diagon.html#flourish_blotts



Date Posted: 3/20/2008 6:00 PM ET
Member Since: 5/5/2007
Posts: 563
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The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop by Lewis Buzbee

This does not seem to be strange or unusual, but it does sound interesting, and I have it on my list.

and there are 59 PBS members wishing for it also.


from the book description:

November, a dark, rainy Tuesday, late afternoon. This is my ideal time to be in a bookstore. The shortened light of the afternoon and the idleness and hush of the hour gather everything close, the shelves and the books and the few other customers who graze head-bent in the narrow aisles. I’ve come to find a book.

In The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop, Buzbee, a former bookseller and sales representative, celebrates the unique experience of the bookstore—the smell and touch of books, getting lost in the deep canyons of shelves, and the silent community of readers. He shares his passion for books, which began with ordering through The Weekly Reader in grade school. Interwoven throughout is a
fascinating historical account of the bookseller’s trade—from the great Alexandria library with an estimated one million papyrus scrolls to Sylvia Beach’s famous Paris bookstore, Shakespeare and Company, which led to the extraordinary effort to publish and sell James Joyce’s Ulysses during the 1920s.
Rich with anecdotes, The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop is the perfect choice for those who relish the enduring pleasures of spending an afternoon finding just the right book.






Date Posted: 3/28/2008 4:05 PM ET
Member Since: 6/22/2006
Posts: 96
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Tess Garritsens' "Baltimore Blues". Her Aunt owns a bookstore and if I remember correctly, it caters to only women and she has different "theme" nights.

Subject: I've never read it....
Date Posted: 4/3/2008 2:34 AM ET
Member Since: 2/3/2008
Posts: 32
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but how about The Haunted Bookshop by Christopher Morley. I probably saw it in the library back when I was a kid, and the title jumped right out at me, but I've never managed to get hold of it.
Subject: The Gathering Place by Jon L. Breen
Date Posted: 4/5/2008 10:00 AM ET
Member Since: 1/10/2008
Posts: 22
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Set in an LA bookstore. I have a copy available on my bookshelf.

Date Posted: 4/5/2008 7:46 PM ET
Member Since: 7/8/2005
Posts: 1,010
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Lawrence Blocks Burglar series-the hero/burglar owns a bookstore.

Last Edited on: 4/5/08 7:46 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 4/9/2008 10:10 AM ET
Member Since: 12/20/2006
Posts: 10
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I was going to say The Shadow of the Wind too! That is an excellent book.

Date Posted: 4/13/2008 3:40 PM ET
Member Since: 3/22/2006
Posts: 15
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The Ink Drinker by Eric Sanvoisin.

About a second hand bookstore haunted by an ink-drinking vampire!