Thursday, October 20, 2005

Baltimore’s best bookstores

Woman with kangaroo
Woman with kangaroo, from the
September 1963 National Geographic

In our faire towne, there are too few bookstores to award the titular honor to any establishment—we need more, and better bookstores, dammit—but I wish to plug two local places that don’t get their fair share of praise: the Book Thing and Daedalus Books (in Columbia, but who’s counting?)…

A little over a week ago, I visited the Book Thing for the first time since their relocation in the spring to the former home of Micro Records Company, a microfiche storage service, at 3001 Vineyard Lane in Waverly. (To readers from outside of Charm City: the Book Thing is a clearinghouse for donated books, with an unusual wrinkle—they charge nothing for their wares.) The new, spacious digs make a BT outing much less frustrating than one to the old space on the alley near 27th Street; on the rainy Sunday I stopped by, some plastic and a few trash cans protected the bookshelves from a leak in the roof, but the place was open, cozy, and patronized by only a few browsers. I collected two medical books, several old Christian Science prayer books (with handwritten inserts and notations), and an armful of old National Geographic magazines, culled for unusual imagery (see sample to the left).

Daedalus has long been a personal favorite of mine; they specialize in quality remaindered books, and stock a great number of volumes from university presses at ridiculously low prices, usually at five to seven dollars each. In addition, there are any number of excellent visual sourcebooks, from the serious to the silly—on a visit earlier in the week, I scored codices ranging from The English Garden: A Social History to Harold Lloyds Hollywood Nudes in 3D!, a collection of color photographs snapped by silent film actor and amateur photographer Harold Lloyd, who had access to an early camera that took stereoscopic pictures (to make your own, go here). The coffee-table book comes with 3-D glasses that, aptly, look like Harold’s. A sample—from a series of models in Monument Valley (!)—is pictured to the right.

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2 Comments:

Anonymous ReggieH said...

I've dropped off a couple of boxes of books at Book Thing. It is quite amazing. My favorite store in town is Normals (much too close to the house!) but yes we definately need more (and more) bookstores. And my finances are very thankful that Deadalus is in Columbia -- they'd clean me out every two weeks!

7:22 PM  
Blogger bill said...

Reggie,

I'm out of the DC loop of late, but my favorite "local" used bookstore is Midtown Scholar (http://www.midtownscholar.com/) in downtown Harrisburg (!). Wish that we had some a little more like this one...

9:18 PM  

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