Today was a day spent in downtown Bangor. There’s not much down there other than eight coffee shops, five bakeries, and three used/antiquarian book shops. Of the three, I enjoy Lippincott’s the most. The store is so old school it doesn’t have a web site. This is my kind of store.
When you walk in the door, you are greeted by the overwhelming sight of floor to ceiling shelves full of the most beautiful old leather-bound books, several comfortable reading chairs, and an old cat that lives at the store. Gazing around the store, it is difficult to decide where to start looking as there are so many books to look at, caress, whisper to, and wonder about.
On this particular visit, I had a mission. I’m teaching Dracula to my sophomores and I needed a nice, not necessarily antiquarian, edition of the text to inspire interest in them and to serve as a teacher copy. I mentioned this to the store proprietor and he reached behind him and grabbed a hard cover book saying, “I just bought this a few hours ago, what about this one?
I looked at it. The cover is a little cheesy but I pressed forward, knowing to never judge a book by its cover. I looked at the first few pages and fell in love. The book is an illustrated full text edition. It is full of pencil sketches and paintings. It is beautiful and exactly what I was hoping for.
Further, I found a soft cover copy of The Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales by Bruno Bettleheim, a text that came highly recommended to me by a librarian when I spoke with her about teaching short stories and fables. That, too, came home.
I checked out and was ready to go, when the proprietor asked if I teach a lot of old science fiction and I said that I do since it’s the genre I most enjoy. He beckoned me to follow him and I went deep into the shop, beyond shelves of poetry books that whispered out, beyond the philosophy and religion, way back to the farthest corner of the shop. He said, “this is my favorite part of the store. It’s all old science fiction, fantasy, and gothic literature. I think you’ll enjoy this reference book.”
He pulled a dark blue-green hard cover book from a shelf titled “The Supernatural in Modern English Fiction” by Dorothy Scarborough. I look inside the cover: 1917 First Edition. For eighteen dollars.
You better believe this gem is sitting next to me as I type. I can’t believe I have this book!