This past weekend, I attended a graduate literature conference at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. What better to do in my free time than to explore the independent and second-hand bookstores along the main strip, State Street?
Here are a few of my favorites (i.e. whose names I remember):
- A Room of One’s Own: a feminist bookstore that I walked into solely because of the name. However, the stuffed Virginia Woolf doll and Foucault finger puppet made it wholly worthwhile.
- Shakespeare’s Books: Enough said.
- Mimosa Books and Gifts
- Paul’s Book Store: The aforementioned Victorian science book was just one of the older texts mixed in with new paperbacks and collectible hardcovers.
There is something about old books, with crumbling covers and dated fonts, that feels as though you’re unearthing a treasure. The reason this particular piece stood out to me was that the paper I had just presented contained a reference (from a nineteenth century periodical) to that same doctor, Sir Benjamin Brodie. When, without looking for him, his book was one of the ones I pulled from a shelf to examine more closely, the sheer coincidence of it made me smile.
I am as much a fan of new and chain bookstores as the next person, but how often does that happen in a Barnes and Noble or a Borders?
So today, here’s to the small, the unique, and the second-hand!