Monday, October 30, 2006

Tim's Books, Mainstreet, Hyannis (Cape Cod) MA

Tim's is one of my favorite stores. and one of the best reasons for visiting Hyannis, Massachusetts in my opinion. The store is roomy, the prices are mostly reasonable, and it is the perfect place to go if your vacation on Cape Cod faces a rain delay.

store features:

Even though the stock is clearly aimed at the general reader, Tim's manages to be a quasi-academic store in the middle of a vacation town with a seasonal population (though it is less so every year). Fiction runs almost the entire left side of the cavernous store and is well selected. And yes, the store has a political science (though small) and China section, which means it passes my personal test. There are new releases near the front, and it's fun to look through the piles of recent arrivals that are all over the place.

standout sections:

fiction, sociology, philosophy, women's and gender studies, American history, cultural studies, sports, mathematics, China/Japan/Russia etc., various text books, literary criticism...

what I bought:

Usually when I hit Tim's I leave with literally a box of stuff. This last time, I didn't splurge on account of funds but picked up a few reasonably priced things I had been looking for as well as some that I hadn't. I remember I was hoping to find John Banville's The Sea that trip but no luck. I'll be back in December! Here are a few things I bought (condition is excellent unless noted):

Baseball and the Pursuit of Innocence: A Fresh Look at the Old Ball Game by Richard Skolnik ($7.95)

Women and Chinese Modernity by Rey Chow ($5.00)

The Elegant Universe: superstrings, hidden dimensions, and the quest for the ultimate theory by Brian Greene ($5.00)

location and contact:

386 Main St, Hyannis, MA 02601 (508) 778-5550

pretty easy to find, right on Main Street in Hyannis.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Second Story Books, Washington DC

I have been to this store many times throughout the years though not recently since my parents moved away from the area. I think its in what the locals call Dupont Circle. I also think I might be an idiot, since as far as I know, the store is entirely on the first floor or storey; I have never seen stairs! You'd think the name would be a pun on the physical layout of the store as well as the condition of the books. Well, the mysterious name just gives you one more reason to go check it out.

As can be expected from its location in DC, there's a healthy government, international relations, and politics thing going on. The political theory and gender sections have yielded many finds too. But there is also a nice back room full of literature. The help is pretty friendly, relative to other joints--I remember the young lady behind the counter helped me look up a book on the internet the last time I was there.

store features:

Not spacious, but not really cramped either, it's possible to spend a few hours here.
I saw cds and I beleive they have something of a rare books collection, though that is not my thing so I don't pay much attention. You can apparently order from the store's website too.

standout sections:

sociology, military, history, international relations, government, art, gender, science, political theory and philosophy. Fiction, poetry and literature are in a separate room in the back of the store.

what i bought:
to be updated...when i remember!

location and contact:

2000 P Street, NW
Washington DC, 20036
(202) 659-8884
Hours: 10-10 daily

Friday, September 01, 2006

Book Corner: Philadelphia, PA

Though there are quite a few gems, the store doesn't have a lot of academic press books, but that is due to the nature of the stock. Book Corner's stock is entirely donated by Philadelphians! So in a way, it's like browsing the consciousness of Philly.

store features:
This is a spacious store with three rooms and seating inside and out. The volunteer service staff is friendly. One thing you may notice is that the store is set up like a regular retail store, with books of interest expertly organized and displayed to catch your eye--this is unfortunately uncommon in used stores and makes for a great browsing experience.

There are some hilariously quirky little reference books, (which I ended up being unable to snatch up) laying around the place too. The books are in suprisingly good shape for donations, and the prices are uniformly reasonable. Plus, the proceeds go towards the Friends of the Free Library so you are doing "good" as well as doing "well" by hoarding books like you can't control yourself!

standout sections:
Sections I remember include: Politics, Philosophy, Women's studies, language, pets, sports, education, world regions, and history. I also noted comics, records and cds.

The fiction section has been put in its own room with literature and mysteries separated out. It seems well-stocked and there is a neat little idea I have never run across before: a "Classics" section within the literature section. It's a cool idea if you're like me, and tend to wander fiction or literature sections trolling for ideas, or trying to remember such and such's name. I imagine this section is a godsend for highschool and college kids with required reading lists and finite budgets, too.

In the Main room...

There is plenty of seating if you want to check out potential purchases. There are even a few tables outside.

And, if you're a yuppy-spawn like me, you'll be relieved to see that up the street are the two symbols of our decadent culture: Starbucks and Wholefoods.

what I bought:
Here is a selection of what I got (all books in excellent shape unless noted):

Eats Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss (hardcover, $5.00)
Schott's Original Miscellany by Ben Schott (hardcover, $5.50)
The Superior Person's Book of Words by Peter Bowler (hardcover, $6.00--unmarked, save for a funny inscription :" John, I could no think of anyone who could use this more! Ken 1993")
Pure Baseball, by Keith Hernandez (softcover)
America's Failure in China, 1941-50 by Tang Tsou (old soft, $3.00)
This sex which is not one by Luce Irigaray (trade paper, $7.50)
The Used Book Lover's Guide to the South Atlantic States (soft, $6.50 decent shape)
Looking for Spinoza by Antonio Damasio (hardcover, $9.00)
The Diviners by Rick Moody (softcover, $6.50)

location and contact:

311 N 20th StPhiladelphia, PA 19103
(behind Central Library at 20th and Vine St.)

(215) 567-0527

a must-see in Philly.

Saturday, July 01, 2006


I love used book stores. Unfortunately, with the advent of big box store chains and internet sales of books, many of these stores are going out of business, making finding them more of a chore. Shopping for books on the internet is convenient, and many stores, including some seminal used book stores such as the The Strand in NY and Powell's in Portland, have a presence on the internet. But this site is really for those who know the real thrill is wandering musty isles in some strange town, and finding a gem or two in the rough. Where are the really good ones?

Ok the idea is I will review the best used book stores I can find during my travels, mostly American stores but we'll see. How this will work, I don't know, but stay tuned. It has been cool to read people's comments too.

I am planning a few trips during the holiday season--to Houston and Massachusetts. Then in the coming spring, I'll try to do some entries on my hometown Los Angeles, which isn't as bad for used books as you might suspect.
I am looking forward to reviewing Texas' Half Price book chain, which is one of my favorites. And most of all, I can't wait to hit Boston, where I've heard that my favorite store of all time, Raven, has opened a new store in Cambridge. I just hope none of my Boston standbyes have closed since the last time I was there.
Stay tuned...