I finally got up off my butt and down to University City and the Delmar Loop. The Delmar Loop is half tourist trap and half 20-something hang out. It’s full of one of kind boutique shops and overpriced restaurants and bars. There’s an art store, an actual record store, and several large concert venues. (I’ve been down to the Pageant several times.) It’s the type of place where there are honest to god street performers on Saturdays and a drum group gathers in the small plaza in front of the parking lot in the afternoon. They can be heard throughout the area and it is awesome.
(I actually had a friend who lived further up the street, in the residential area in a four square apartment house. [Four square means that there are two apartments downstairs and two apartments upstairs, all identical.] It’s a gorgeous area with a lot of trees and we ended up in the Delmar Loop quite a lot.)
The Delmar Loop also has a bookstore that I’ve been planning to hit for ages, Subterranean Books. It’s a small place. I admit that I walked past it the first time and had to backtrack. I didn’t know what to expect from Subterranean Books. To be honest I thought it might be a little too artsy-fartsy for my tastes. The front window was decorated with a paper pumpkin tree in honor of Halloween when I visited.
Subterranean Books had a huge selection of adult fiction books, much bigger than I’ve seen in other independent bookstores. There was a small selection of young adult books and a tiny section of children’s books. Upstairs had the cooking section and the history section. There was also a good selection of music books, writing guides, humor books, and local Missouri history and travel guides. Everything had handmade signs marking the sections and tucked under certain books were little blurbs about them. The cards were mostly about the subject of the book being featured, why the reader had liked this book so much, and other little information that would attract a browsing booklover’s attention.
It’s an adorable store. I was dead broke when I stopped by and I’m sure I drove the poor sales girl crazy with all my pictures and book fondling. They had some very nice copies of some classic books I’ve been meaning to get but I stood strong against the temptation. I didn’t see anything really obscure or hard to find. Subterranean Books tag is “From High Culture to Subculture”, which sounds like some magic pronouncement. Really, it’s just a small bookstore. The selection was merely decent. The sales girl did offer to order a book I asked about for me but since I don’t live in the area I declined. I was down on the Delmar Loop to attend a kick-off party at Fitz’s Restaurant and picked up a couple of books for the raffle I thought were amusing. (How to Swear in a Foreign Language and Everything a Woman Should Know.)
Saint Louis, MO 63130
Several weeks ago, I discovered a website that lists the indie bookstores in my area. The Saint Louis Independent Bookstore Alliance, which also hosted the ReadMOB for World Book Night back in April, lists indie bookstores from in the heart of the city to out in Saint Charles County, where I live. I hadn’t realized that there were so many bookstores in my area that weren’t Barnes & Noble or Borders. I quickly made a vow to visit each and every one of them and lend my support. I decided to start with the closest to me first and work my way out. So, I’m very pleased to present to you Main Street Books, a small bookshop in the tourist district of old town Saint Charles along the Missouri River.
It’s a small place with three levels. There is a street level where most of the books are and then there is a balcony above that where the children’s books are kept. Up the stairs there was the young adult section squished in a narrow hallway, an airy living room setup, and a disused kitchen with books hidden in the cabinets.
Main Street Books boasts that it specializes in Saint Louis authors, so there was a whole section of history books on the area and a small selection of fiction books from authors that lived here. I ended up buying a cookery book that focuses on the local herbs. (I didn’t even know Saint Louis had a Herb Society.) So far, I’ve made some awesome mint tea with it.
I ended up buying an Alice in Wonderland colors book for baby Allyson, my friend’s kid, and a copy of Le Petit Prince that I’ll wait a little longer to give her. Because every kid needs a copy of The Little Prince.
I walked in with about $40 in my pocket, promising myself I wouldn’t spend more than that. Of course, I walked out with more than $100 worth of books. I picked up a copy of The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern because it was on the front table and would not leave me alone. It was just sitting there, in all its shiny glory, whispering “buy me”. I was powerless. I also purchased Witch Catcher by Mary Downing Hahn (review next week!), The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen, The Teashop Girls by Laura Schaefer, Vintage Tea Party by Carolyn Caldicott with photos by Chris Caldicott (and I will admit that I bought it mostly for the pictures) as well as the Herbal Cookery book by the Saint Louis Herb Society. Whew! Bookstores are dangerous places for me.
I’m going to be in South City in Tower Grove Park tomorrow for the Pagan Picnic and, provided the heat doesn’t kill me first, I’ll make it a point to visit Dunaway Books at the same time. It’s used bookshop, so I’m hoping for some good prices. I’ve been known to walk out of used bookstores with a suitcase worth of books. If you’re in Saint Louis this weekend then why don’t you join us? See ya later!