It appears that the printed word is alive and well in Charlottesville, VA. Yesterday I became an official card carrying library patron! Of note, was the claim that this C'ville library was the most frequented library in VA. Good to know. It is a beautiful old building, that seems to house a great collection of information and entertainment. I was warmly welcomed to the community by Jeanne, the librarian. Can't wait to explore it thoroughly.
From there, I went to visit some of the bookshops in town. Being a college town, it is not surprising that there are bookshops, but the variety of independent, non-academic and used booksellers is wonderful. I guess that the biggest festival in Charlottesville is the Virginia Festival of the Book every March. I can not wait to participate net year!
This week I went to some of C'ville's very diverse book shops - all within walking distance from home. The first, The Blue Whale - Antique Prints, Books, and Maps, is guarded by what the owner described as "the sweetest dog on earth". When I countered with "aren't all Corgis sweethearts", he confirmed that none other is as sweet as his. This shop has not only books, well cataloged and displayed, but also prints and maps. It is a tony shop - with beautiful entrance and interior wood, well arranged bins and shelves, and the ambiance of a private library, with the congenial owner at the ready behind a beautiful library table/desk appropriately stacked with papers and books.
The second shop, Daedalus bookstore, (NOTE: link is to reviews - it appears they have no website!) appears to be a small shop, but has a seemingly endless maze of books. The building was a very compact home at one time, and has retained the many tiny rooms that once housed a family. Each room is fitted - or more correctly, crammed, with bookcases of every ilk and era. It was evident the proprietor knew most of the customers who edged their way between the shelves, a sign that this was a store for local regulars more than collectors or tourists. This warren of paper and ink is the perfect place to lose yourself on a hot southern afternoon. The musty smell, creaky staircase and millions of paperbacks and hardcovers will keep you busy for hours, even if you never crack open a volume - just read the myriad of titles!
Perhaps, this Yelp review describes Daedalus best: "I was afraid to pull out any book for fear of toppling over the entire building! If bookstores are measured by the sheer density of books per square foot, and by the precariousness of the pathways through them, then store is by far the best one that I've ever visited. Some of the hallways require turning sideways, or bending yourself like a pretzel. A very nice man was there to help me with anything I needed."
Tucked on one shelf of early volumes, was this anonymous picture of a woman. I am sure it was found while unpacking books, but she was just about the only non-book item in all of the place! Who knows how long she has been guarding these volumes.
If you are really into history, click here for blog posts prior to 2014 !