Last Spring I had a studyless day during study period of finals season and decided to mosey my way downtown to delight in the sunshine of Boston and potential adventures of a free afternoon in the city with a fresh paycheck in my bank account. Options seemed limitless. I was venturing without a plan, with no agenda, and was expecting to resort to picking up leggings at the Downtown Crossing H&M to validate my trek to Park Street, when the heavens parted and I found Mecca.
I turned on to West Street, and discovered the parking lot I’d passed many times with random murals of bookshelves actually served a purpose during business hours. $1, $3, and $5 signs were taped to shelves of antique and shabby chic books upon books, with copyright dates from 1835 to 1987. It smelled like mildew and water damage and I hadn’t smelled pages so sweet in forever.
The Brattle Book Shop was apparently founded in 1825 and is the most phenomenal escapist spot ever. There are shelves galore inside the shop, but the outside bargain racks are the most fun.
shelves on shelves on shelves
My inner hoarder was instantly released in the outside shelving lot, and during my first time at the shop, I scavenged the shelves like it was the last time books were to be available for purchase. Nevermind that I was tripping over old men’s golden retrievers and hipsters’ headphones while I collected “The Handbook of Every-day French” circa 1925, and 3 volumes of deep brown leather-bound German history books, I had 8 books in my stack and hadn’t even totaled $15 yet! I saw visions of birthday gifts for everyone I knew and bookshelves in my home lined with egregious quantities of gold-striped, deep maroon spines.
- “Selections from Emerson’s Prose Works” 1926, private library donation. “Sterling’s Gold” 1965 (not 2010), gift from Don. “Dinner at Antoine’s” 1948, Harvard Square stand. “Woman and Love” 1943, Harvard Square stand. “Shakspeare’s Complete Works” 1855, Brattle Book Shop.
In the Eastern-most corner of the lot, I spotted a thick, apple-red spine on the $5 shelf. It was painted with glimmering gold embellishment that glistened in the ray of sunlight creeping into the space, and I reached up as I said aloud, “MINE,” and thought mutely, “HASHTAG MINE.”
I made my final purchase decisions, and the clerk advised that I “throw the books in the freezer overnight, just to get rid of any of those critters that might be in there.”
After thawing my purchase, I can happily say to “Shakspeare’s Complete Works,” thank you very much for being the perfect addition to my bookshelf, to my antique book collection, and to my goldleaf-gilded-loving life.
Have I read any of the books I’ve gathered? Well, I haven’t gotten around to blogging in about 6 years, so no, but it’s certainly on my to-do list with the best of intentions.
I also must note that while I can never stop the verbal hashtaggery and love Padrick my iPad and digital media eternally, there can and will be no replacement for the delight in holding a book. (Especially holding ones published in the 19th century.) #KatherinaMinolaisthegreatestcharacterofalltime
that BA monologue from the final scene of Taming of the Shrew