I can hardly verbalize my ecstasy from this evening but I will try to give you a glimpse. Alise and I went downtown to Boulder to scope out the good second-hand bookstores and coffee shops. It took us a very long time to find a parking spot but once we did (and it was my first time driving through a parking garage) we found our way to the first bookstore. We spent some time out on the sidewalk looking through the carts they had sitting outside their store then we went on to the bookstore three doors down called “Red Letter Secondhand Books”. Pure bliss . . . books up to the ceiling, packed in boxes, stacked on-top of each other and in disarray on the floor. I have never been in such a wonderful store in my life! As I looked up at the top shelf books I occasionally tripped over the piles on the floor, I didn’t mind though, it made the experience.
The first books my gaze fell on were shelves and shelves of the most beautifully leather-bound classics with thick cream pages, many with sketched or vibrantly colored illustrations. These books are special though, at $25-$35 a piece this is where you come to pick out a birthday or Christmas book for those readers you love, these books I couldn’t quite justify getting for myself. Once I tore myself away from these lovely shelves I walked further into the store. The store is pretty deep (I never even got to the back before closing time) and the shelves of books reached the ceiling. At one point I was down on my knees, surrounded by books – that’s what I love in a second-hand bookstore, to be hidden from those passing by when in quest of a great find.
Standing at the front counter to buy a handful of books I spoke with the bookstore proprietor for a bit. He’s an instant friend – a rather old man with messy gray hair who looks as if he’s been cooped up in a bookstore for the last 20 years . . . and he probably has, he has a mysterious air about him without being creepy, and I could tell from his language he cared deeply about words. I asked him where he got all these books; he looked up, pointed to a young man who had just left a box of books and walked out the door, “from people like him” then he looked up again, this time at me and must have seen my twinkling eyes at being in this hidden cave of treasure and added “. . . and you.” He highly approved of each book I chose, especially a copy of “Lydia Bailey” by Kenneth Roberts. If I had a fortune, I could spend it all in this store. As it is, I came away with only five books, two of which are gifts. I did get my copy of Jane Eyre and it’s only six inches tall.
Headed down to Boulder I wasn’t expecting much from this bookstore; I’d seen pictures of it online and it looked like a hot, crowded, ugly store but you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. I did and I turned out to be wrong. I’m glad I tried it anyway because this store is a rare, rare find. I plan to return countless times before I leave here next summer.