Thomas of My Porch and I set off (relatively) early this morning on a bookish field trip to Baltimore to check out The Book Thing of Baltimore. Thomas heard about this bookstore where everything is free, and who among the bookish could resist the call of a place like that? Knowing next to nothing about this enterprise, we set our expectations suitably low, allowing them to lower just a bit more as we approached by the back to the view above.
There was a more conventional sign on the front of the building. As well as numerous cheerful looking folks making their way to the door with empty bags and boxes.
We entered into a small front room, and were initially afraid that that was all there was. But there was much, much more around the corner. On the first shelf scanned, Thomas scored two favored books right away. And then quite a few more after that. Although not a librarian, he does have librarian-grade shelf scanning abilities. Truly impressive. Nothing gets by him. Please do not attempt to engage him in competitive second hand book shopping. You will not win.
And took proprietor Russell's suggestions seriously as his book nods easily commanded the highest quality signage in the establishment.
We waded through nostalgia and camp and a bit of the overstated in a few places such as "Any devoted Jamesian had better have his blood pressure tested before opening this book." I can think of nothing that elevates my blood pressure more than Henry James and the Jacobites.
But the experience overall was, as Thomas added signing out, awesome. What we found was a book shopping experience that was leisurely and fun. And free. The store told us stories of the city that donated these books as well as awakened book memories of our childhoods including sneaking peeks of Scruples in the public library and the grey Scribner classics held in the hands of grandparents. This is not a place for collectors. It is a place for readers. Especially nostalgic readers.
Here is my take from today. I exercised unusual restraint and took only things I knew I wanted, books that held some type of special meaning or charm. So satisfactory that I plan on going back there sometime. Read here about the store and its history and think about stopping by any Saturday or Sunday if you are in Baltimore. Worth your time. They also take donations both material and monetary if you wish to support the effort.