Mission

Bibliophiliac is the space where one passionate, voracious reader reflects on books and the reading life. You will find reviews, analysis, links, and reflections on poetry and prose both in and out of the mainstream.
A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us. Franz Kafka

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Jackson Street Books, Athens, Georgia


I become ridiculously happy when set loose in a good used bookstore. This week I've been visiting family in Athens, Georgia, and I spent some time browsing in Jackson Street Books (260 North Jackson Street). As soon as I walked in the door and saw the floor to (nearly) ceiling shelves, the glass cases with first editions and rare books, I knew. Since I didn't have too much time at my disposal, I walked the whole bookstore once just to get a feel for the place. The store is organized, and seems to have a good selection of many types of books, but I knew I was going to concentrate on fiction. I like to start at one end of the alphabet (beginning or end, doesn't matter) and slowly scan all the shelves methodically. There are a few things I always look for: books by my favorite authors, my favorite books (most especially Middlemarch), and those odd, really old books I've never heard of but want to know. I also look for anything by Anthony Trollope, whose books I collect with the urgency of the smitten. I look for the out-of-print book, the book with the poignant inscription, the book with an author inscription, the book I have to have-even though I didn't know it existed.

Sometimes in a used bookstore you open a book, and there on the flyleaf or the title page is a little glimpse at another life. Words of endearment and encouragement and advice; words of fondness and seduction and apology. Why did the recipient of this book, these words, let it all go--the book, the sentiments, the scrawled words of intimate avowal?

This can go on for hours: me, totally absorbed, picking up books and moving along the aisles. In the end, I couldn't buy them all--I couldn't even look at them all. After picking up and considering a much larger number of books, I walked out of Jackson Street Books with a first edition of Richard Wright's American Hunger, an Oxford World's Classics paperback copy of Anthony Trollope's Rachel Ray, and a collection of stories by Margot Livesey, Learning by Heart. I'm still thinking longingly of one or two books that I put back on the shelf.

At any rate, I know I'll be back.

13 comments:

bermudaonion said...

You need to check out Avid Bookstore the next time you're in Athens. I haven't been there, but I know the owner worked for years to open it.

bibliophiliac said...

I plan to go there on my next visit!

Brenna said...

Used bookstores are the best.

neer said...

There is nothing quite like a used book store.

bibliophiliac said...

@Brenna-I know, that old book smell!
@Neer-I think I could live in a used bookstore!

Scriptor Senex said...

Sounbds like a super time. I'm a real Trollope fan as well - when asked what one book (without spending time thinking about it) I would recommend to anyone it was The Warden. (My brother bought me a lovely old copy of it to add to my collection.) Rachel Ray is a good one if you haven't already read it!

Beth said...

Oo.. I never knew about these. What's even better is that I live in Atlanta and have never thought to venture to Athens to browse the book shops. Thanks for the recommendations.

Marie said...

how fun! I love big rambling used bookstores you can get lost in :-)

bibliophiliac said...

@Beth-there are a couple of good indies in Athens-plus, it is a cool town!
@Marie-I definitely could spend hours in Jackson Street Books!

Lisa said...

"...whose books I collect with the urgency of the smitten..."

I love that! My family thinks I'm crazy with the amount of time I could spend in a book store. Glad I'm not the only one!

Bybee said...

I wonder if R.E.M. and the B-52s have visited this bookstore...

bibliophiliac said...

@Lisa-you are not alone!
@Bybee-I wonder!

Anonymous said...

Bybee - yes. Feel free to ask either of the owners about the time Mr. Stipe paid a visit.