Sunday, February 29, 2004

I've been going to Books by the Falls in Derby since I was in high school. It's a used book store inside an old factory. There are about four rooms and each of them has books stacked high above, ready to topple at any moment. There's that great smell of musty old books. All the aisles are barely passable for one person. When there are two people in one aisle, it's a real project to pass by. In a back corner by the windows, there's a little desk where the owner sits. He has an old record player behind him. Through the years I've heard him play classical, opera, blues, jazz and light jazz.
I always head over to the science fiction section first. One huge wall covered in every old rocket-and-bug-eyed-monster book you can imagine. All the classic names are there -- Asimov, Heinlen, Sturgeon, Pohl, Anderson -- and every once in a while there are the classic novels that have gone out of print. Twice I've seen "Stand on Zanzibar" by John Brunner there.
I've seen a couple of references to Books by the Falls as disorganized. "They probably have some good things, but who knows where to find them?" says one reference site on the Web. But for me that has always been part of the joy. You start scrounging through big piles of books and see what attracts you. There's nothing like digging through a pile of books and catching a glimpse of an R.A. Lafferty book or an obscure sword and sorcery novel. It's not the kind of store you run into for something particular and then run out. It's a store meant for leisurely exploration.
I just went to Books by the Falls Saturday. The owner, who has gotten used to seeing me, said "hey you're into science fiction right?" Sure am. He directed me to two new book shelves full of science fiction books. He had dug up some amazing collection. It seemed like every classic science fiction book was there. I ended up picking up these books:
The Sheep Look Up by John Brunner
The Third Level by Jack Finney
Bones of the Moon by Jonathan Carroll
All Heads Turn When the Hunt Goes By by John Farris
Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze by Kenneth Robeson
Doc Savage: The Fortress of Solitude by Kenneth Robeson
I found all of those almost immediately. All those books cost a total of $12. But I ran out of money. There was a ton of other books I wanted. I'm going back soon to pick up more.
There's just something about being in a used book store that can't be beat.
So what about you? Do any of you have used book stores you love? Or book stores in general? Does anyone else find the pleasure in this that I do?

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