I can’t think of a more generic name for a bookstore than Book Nook. Used bookstores love it, though. I can think of five off the top of my head and I’m 99.9 percent positive they’re not all part of a chain. Am I right? Perhaps you can shed some light on the origins of this rather dull name for a bookstore. Is there some authoritative publishing body giving used booksellers a short list of possible store names, away from which they are not permitted to stray? Are they just not very creative in the name department? Does the genericness of its name somehow add to a used bookstore’s mystique? Or am I missing something?
In any case, these have been my background musings when I’ve driven past the Book Nook in Druid Hills every day on my way to work for the past four months. I say background, because they never really twigged my curiosity beyond the banal musing, certainly not enough to make me want to stop by for a visit. It’s snobbish, I know. I simply had my mind made up about the kind of books that would be in a bookstore called Book Nook, the name glaring out in bold canary yellow lettering over a nondescript brick building that calls a dingy Shell station and a suspect nail salon its neighbors. In fact, I only brought myself ’round to visiting it because I was having my car’s oil changed at a garage two blocks down the road. In other words, I was bored.
You know where this is going, right? I go in. The bell over the door tinkles benignly. Somewhere a bowl of Chef Boyardee is being reheated and the smell is diffused through the surprisingly spacious room. Thankfully, the corduroy-wearing booksellers ignore me (I don’t really plan on buying anything, so better they not pay me any attention). I’ve stepped through a time warp; to my left, a fairly large room of used vhs tapes in their original scuffed-up paper sleeves make me feel as though I’m on the set of Be Kind Rewind, to my right, an extensive collection of comic books are filled in deep wooden bins. The entire shop is about the size of small public library. There is a newly released section, mostly consisting of titles which, I suspect, big box stores were unable to sell, though some good ones catch my eye: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, What the What by Dave Eggars and Caleb’s Crossing by Geraldine Brooks.
Curiously, I mostly get lost in the cooking and diet section. Nothing has been published before 2000 and most not before 1990. The nutritional advice reflects the wisdom of the time and I’m filled with the same morbid fascination as when I visited the medical museum at Old Salem as a child. Okay, maybe not that extreme. Though it did make me remember with some fondness dancing along to my mom’s Jane Fonda exercise videos. Which of our generation’s diet and exercise regiments will our children laugh about?
There is a rare books section, where I spend a good deal of time admiring the gold leaf titles and illustrations on the bold royal blue and maroon linen covers. I could definitely talk myself into buying a stack of books, most of them oddities, but then I see a sign indicating cash only. Yet another ingredient in a used bookstore’s rather antiquarian business model that makes them both delightfully and annoyingly an escape into the past. The sign also advertises a 40% discount off the quoted price when you trade in your own books. On my next visit, I will come armed.
The fun is not lost, however, as about ten minutes into my visit I decide that a game could be had finding the most ridiculous, most random book in the store. In fact, I think it would make quite a fun date night. On this particular visit, the book that took the cake was by one David Haviland.
And on that note, I’ll leave you. But do share: what was the oddest book you ever found in a used bookstore?