Sunday, February 24, 2008

Heaven IS a place on earth...and that place is the Book Barn

Yesterday I was introduced to what is definitely the greatest place in Connecticut and more than likely in the running for greatest place on earth: The Book Barn.

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The Book Barn is a phenomenal used book store located down the road from New London in Niantic. The word 'barn' in the store name is somewhat misleading because it implies that all the books are contained in a barn. This is not the case.

The Book Barn has so many used books for sale that they don't even fit in one barn (and that barn has three floors, mind you!) They spill into four seperate structures, two sort of stands on the main barn poperty, and a downtown location as well.

Before you get overwhelmed, realize that there is a method to the madness - certain selections are housed in certain building. For instance, the Downtown Book Barn (our first stop) houses cookbooks, mythology, and nautical history, among other things.

The DBB also houses the fattest cat I have ever seen in my life. Frank (or "Frank the Tank" as Kevin Doyle has dubbed him) appears to have been inflated like a balloon. He has tiny legs and a tiny head and a gigantic middle. I attempted to photograph Frank with my camera phone; however, Frank was not very inclined to be photographed (I was ending up with a lot of nostril shots). This is probably OK seeing as how I have no idea how to get camera phone photos OFF of the camera phone anyway.

In addition to Frank, the DBB had a two guinea pigs and a tank full of turtles.

After scanning the DBB for awhile, we piled back in Doyle's Impala to traverse to the main Book Barn. We immediately headed to the farthest building to browse the fiction selection.

And what a selection it was! I have been to smaller used book stores where the fiction section is mostly comprised of the mystery, harlequin romance, and western sections with a few Oprah's Book Club selections from recent years thrown in. Not the Book Barn - although all three aforementioned genres were healthily represented, there were rows and rows and stacks and stacks of actual literature. Almost any book could be found -or at least any author - from the classics to the currents.

(I also like to see which books people do not consider 'keepers' - you know, the ones that there are like, a whole shelf of copies of? At the Book Barn, it appeared that no one really felt compelled to hang onto She's Come Undone by Wally Lamb, but the real prize goes to The Red Badge of Courage - a shelf and a half!)

The only thing that I was specifically looking for that I did not find was a copy of No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy - not really a big surprise seeing as how the movie has probably awakened interest in the book (we are seeing the movie this afternoon, by the way - I'll let you know how it is!) And I forgot to look for Into the Wild but it would probably have been the same situation.

I did, however, add to my classics collection with some Fitgerald (This Side of Paradise) and Hemingway (The Sun Also Rises) as well as some Gabriel Garcia Marquez (Love in the Time of Cholera).

After we finished in the fiction building we headed up to the main building. Along the way we passed a pen full of goats. And in the main building, there were at least four kitties roaming the premises or sleeping in corners. The Book Barn combines the best elements of a bookstore and petting zoo in to one experience. Also, the staff keeps a pot of coffee brewing and puts out plates of those little Hostess donuts and Cheez-Its for the guests to munch on.

We found a ton of stuff in the main building, mostly downstairs where the MASSIVE history collection is located. (Although there were no takers for any of the four copies of a promotional Pfizer book celebrating 25 years of R&D - or something to that effect - at the Groton site...go figure!)

Anyway, Amanda and I left with probably eight or nine books each and Doyle staggered to the cash register with about fifteen. In addition to the classics mentioned above, my purchases consisted of:
  • Girl Sleuth: Nancy Drew and the Women who Created Her by Melanie Rehak (hey, I used to love Nancy Drew)
  • The Six Wives of Henry VIII by Alison Weir
  • Sex with the Queen by Eleanor Herman (this is from the history section - NOT the erotica section located under the staircase)
  • The City of Falling Angels by John Berendt (I really loved Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, so I wanted to give him another try.)

And thus ended my first Book Barn experience. But trust me, there will be MANY more in the future!

1 comment:

Lisa Gibala Warren said...

So someone really let Wally Lamb go? I foolishly lent my copy of She's Come Undone, and well, I miss it terribly. I'm glad you found another place to make life exciting.