I went to the local used bookstore this afternoon with the intention of picking up one (just one!) book, and instead walked out with a precarious stack of lovely pages. This always happens. Even if I walk in expecting to buy nothing, I always end up finding at least one book that I must have right now or else I’ll die! However, my literary shopping addiction/bibliophilism is not the topic of this post.
Used bookstores are the best bookstores, the stuff of nerd dreams. Intrepid readers can find adventure amidst the towering stacks of books and vaguely alphabetized volumes on the shelf. I love how used bookstores always seem overstuffed, like they are secret book factories that continuously create smelly yellowed pages that tumble off shelves. The books that show up in a used bookstore tell you about the reading community in the area as well – cheesy romance readers, literary hipsters, hyper-intellectual academics, or comic-book hoarders. Or, in the case of many foreign English-language used bookstores, ten expats who don’t read very much. You know, whatever.
And, in addition to the romance of it, used books are cheap. Oh yes, oh fucking yes. Waaay better than the big-box book chains, and definitely more interesting. I once bought a poetry book from the 1960s and someone had written a love poem in the front of it before giving it to his “beloved Anne.” It was so sweet I almost barfed.
Here are my top three favorite used bookstores, for my 1,000,000,000 readers in the Denver-Metro area:
- Mountain Books. I’ve been visiting this place since I was able to read. This is where I amassed my Animorphs collection and stoked my middle school trashy sci-fi phase. It is owned by a sweet white-haired man who knows everything about literature and will always give you a good recommendation. Like many places, the store has a 2:1 trade program, so for every two books I give him, I can take one new book home. Plus, it sports comfy chairs and not one but two bookstore dogs. (25797 Conifer Rd Ste B104, Conifer, CO 80433)
- Kilgore Books. I just discovered this place, and I think I am in love. Kilgore has an amazing selection of literary fiction and academically-oriented books, as well as a ton of local zines and comics. They also have an array of rare books and first editions, which are pricey but very cool. It is too easy to find a great book here. (624 E 13th Ave, Denver, CO 80203)
- Fahrenheit’s Books. As you might expect, Fahrenheit has a huge selection of vintage science fiction paperbacks. They also have a ton of fascinating fiction and other various stuff. If you go, be sure to check out the (tiny) section on sexuality – there are books from the ’50s and earlier, which is really cool if you’re into that sort of thing. (210 S Broadway, Denver, CO 80209)
Readers: What are your favorite bookstores? Do you prefer new or used?