A Literary Exploration
May 10, 2017
An extremely valuable, yet underrated, aspect of St. Louis is its local businesses – especially its local bookstores. There is something special about being able to browse, get one-to-one assistance and relax as you delve into a new science fiction novel or book of poetry. As the population starts to shift towards technology-based reading material that we get on our Kindles or order from Amazon, it is important that we still immerse ourselves in the exquisite and unmatchable ambience of a bookshop. While the ease of online shopping is inviting, being able to purchase books while supporting your local businesses is infinitely more rewarding. Each bookstore has its own unique experience, which is why I’ve gathered observations on local bookstores throughout St. Louis.
This rustic, 17-year-old bookstore holds much more than words. The homemade tissue paper flowers and
the mannequin dressed in pages of writing displayed in the front window, as well as the soft jazz music playing throughout the cozy store makes Subterranean Books all the more delightful. Books illuminated by the fluorescent lighting and the reflection of the blue and green walls welcomes pedestrians in the Delmar Loop. The dedicated staff create a section called “hand-picked” for their personal favorite books. Subterranean Books supports their community by advertising local writers and events.
Left Bank Books
From the moment you step in, an immediate rush of tranquility sweeps over your body and mind. If for nothing else, I would go to this bookstore for the meditative atmosphere. Left Bank has a wonderful location on Euclid Avenue in the Central West End.With high foot traffic and nearby cafés and restaurants, Left Bank provides the perfect place to pass time on a busy weekend afternoon. They take advantage of their bright, large space to invite local and international writers to hold readings and speeches; some of their upcoming events include “Storytime with Cliff” and “#Fergusonreads: pushout”. Not only does this store have a great variety of material, the staff is also highly qualified to help you find the material you need. When I asked a woman for book recommendations for teens, it was easy to tell by the amount of recommendations and her passionate explanations of every book that this is not just a job for the staff; this is something they love to do and something they know a lot about. My mom and I have gone into Left Bank countless times and come out refreshed and accomplished, with a handful of new books to read.
Half Price Books
Located in University City, this store sells books as well as CDs and records. Half Price features a wide variety of genres:
gender studies, self help, military history, manga and metaphysical studies to name a few. As I walked through the store, I saw people of many ages browsing the shelves. Hence the name, these books are extremely affordable, but still in great shape. Although this store lacks the “cozy” feel that other bookstores have, Half Price is a brightly lit, wide area that welcomes you to walk down the aisles and aisles of books, almost like a grocery store. I was extremely impressed by how well-organized the shelves were, despite the number of books they had to place on them.
The Book House
This Maplewood bookstore would be best described as antique. The eclectic mix of “vintage and unusual bargain” books and modern books is what makes The Book House so memorable. The Book House welcomes the sharing of opinions. When I walked in, there was a group of women having a heated discussion about the value of politics. Perfect for relaxation, the store has cushioned chairs and lamps placed in nooks and crannies for visitors to settle into, giving the store a very homey ambience. The shelves of books reach the ceiling upstairs and downstairs, and still there is an overflow of books that do not fit stacked next to the shelves. Among the diverse range of books on religion and foreign languages are also posters and paintings on the walls. On the way down the stairs, it’s hard to miss the grand painting of a tree along the wall. Evidently, The Book House has reached their goal of having a “wide array of titles containing ideas as diverse as the world in which we live.” Although The Book House may seem a bit cluttered, I believe it adds to the cozy and pleasant atmosphere in which you would want to curl up to a book on a rainy day.
The Novel Neighbor
The Novel Neighbor has all the creativity and imaginativeness I could hope for in a bookstore. This charming, all-
purpose bookstore in Webster Groves has a compelling mixture of colors and knick knacks. In addition to selling books, The Novel Neighbor offers creative cards for every occasion, arts and crafts classes, jewelry, paintings, handmade accessories and more. The store’s decorations are just as unique as the merchandise itself. The bright, yellow walls, the colorful paintings and the diverse selection of papers and lamps displayed on the shelves astounded me– I felt compelled to explore the entire store. The Novel Neighbor has classes like “How to Draw Monsters” and camps like “Around the World Camp.” This store will never fail to surprise you.