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Brattle Book Shop

I'm easing back into reality after a lengthy driving vacation, sitting at home for the past two days of incessantly gentle rain. I used to welcome the rain as a respite from boredom, most notably when I lived on the second floor with no basement. But now rain makes me uneasy. I want to get just enough to keep the lawn from turning an unsightly brown, but not enough to overwhelm the sump pump and flood the lower level. Maybe this is what maturity is all about--acquiring a new batch of things to worry about.

The drive out east, to New York for a wedding and then on to Boston and back through the Berkshires to visit old friends, before returning home with only a surprisingly pleasant stopover in Erie, PA, was long but enjoyable. Last Wednesday (Shutesbury, MA to Erie) was endless--over six hundred miles of interstate highway leavened only by the rare sight of wild turkeys foraging in the shoulder, south of Buffalo. But the lengthy drive was the only negative. Julie and I scoured what seemed to be every single used book store (now sadly rare in Chicago) within walking distance of Boston Common, scoring most notably at Brattle Book Shop, with William Least Heat-Moon's Blue Highways, a Jim Thompson collection, a rare old needlework guide and a book on Martin Luther that I'm sure my mom will appreciate (and if not, it was only three bucks). Brattle was quite unique--it had the only "book alley" I've ever experienced, with its most heavily-discounted titles shelved outdoors, next to the building. Julie was able to recognize that distinctive used-book smell from two doors away. Literary experiences like this are becoming increasingly rare in this age of megastores, and I was very glad to enjoy this opportunity.

If I lived in the Boston area, my bank account would be dramatically leaner and my house even more clogged with books. Plus, I would undoubtedly suffer the neck problems which used-book store patrons must surely develop from so many hours of reading titles off of book spines, with one's head permanently cocked to one side. But I would gladly welcome any such financial, logistical and physical maladies.

September 1, 2003 in Books, Memoir | Permalink


My daughter works just a few blocks from Brattle Book shop, and when we visit her (from Arkansas) the time I spend at Brattle is definitely one of the highlights of the vacation! Like you, I love used book stores, especially the ones with reasonable prices!

Posted by: Ken Burton at Oct 20, 2006 2:32:35 PM