Do you ever have those weeks where you know that you need a break? Well, I was having one of those weeks a short time ago, and the husband figured out that I needed a break. So, he planned a day trip for me that included an amazing lunch, a trip to a little independent bookstore and a movie (Moonlight - if you have not seen this film by the way, you need to get out there and see it now!).
I had never heard of Bell's Book Store in Palo Alto, California. It was pretty amazing that he was able to find a somewhere that was new to me. And then, when we walked in, he said "I'll be back in a bit." As a book lover you know that is like ... Nirvana. When you first walk in, this store has a simple table lined with new releases. But the real magic here is in the shelves. They are mixed with both used and new releases, and they have so many gems throughout the store. The have amazing copies of classics that I had never seen before - I almost bought 4 copies of Sense and Sensibility just because of the amazing editions they had available. Now there are two stories, and I did not spend a lot of time on the top floor - we did have a movie to see. But the aisles that I did walk through were filled with the backlists of amazing authors (I will talk about that a bit later). My only issue with the fiction section was that a few of the aisles are a little tight. There is no way two people could browse at the same time. But, as I was the only one in them at the time - it did not bother me at all.
While at Bell's, my shopping was truly inspired by Thomas over at hogglestock.com. Thomas and I share an affinity for books about small english towns and spinsters. We both adore Barbara Pym, and Thomas introduced me to May Sarton. I have read two novels by May Sarton novels - As We Are Now and The Magnificent Spinster (click here for my review) - and I have loved them both. So, it has been my practice lately to go into used bookstores and search out copies of her books. On this trip, I was able to pick up The Small Room, As We Are Now (yes, I have a copy but this hard back copy was so cool) and The Education of Harriet Hatfield. I was also able to find a copy of A Very Private Eye by Barbara Pym. This autobiography finishes off my collection of Pym novels which is fantastic for me! Thomas had also mentioned Penelope Lively recently and I had never read anything about by her. So, when I found a copy of Moon Tiger while at Bell's, and saw that it won the Booker Prize in 1987, and then read the back and it was added to the purchase pile.
My final purchase was a picture alphabet book for our niece - called A is for Activist. She cannot read yet. But we have been working on getting her books to start her Feminist future. Don't tell her - it is a Christmas gift.
I had a great time at Bells Book Store - and I would go back in a second. It had a great selection, a nice staff and so many fantastic finds. I encourage anyone that is in the area to stop in and take a browse, I can guarantee that you will not walk out empty handed.