There's almost nothing better in the world than the smell, feel, and look of dusty old books. One of my first and fondest memories was visiting my dad's office in Centreville, Mississippi. Dad was a small town preacher and his office shelves were stacked with impressive looking books. Walking in, I would deeply inhale, figuring that the books and my dad were inextricably joined, and since I loved my dad so much, I had better love books, too. I have loved books ever since.
On the recommendation of an author friend of mine, I visited Choctaw Books on a recent trip to Jackson, Mississippi. (I was there visiting my parents and little sister.) Stepping inside was like being whisked into the world of Harry Potter -- it felt like the books were alive, magical, part of a story I hadn't finished reading. At first I was spellbound, then I laughed in delight.
Some books were stacked neatly on the shelves, like the religion section (in the top photo) and the great literature room, neatly alphabetized by author. But mostly, the shelves were a tumble of seeming disorder. Don't be fooled. The owner knows exactly where everything is....OK, maybe not exactly, but more or less generally knows where to find what.
To say that I was enchanted is an understatement. Even though there was an actual mystery section of the store, every corridor, every room was a mystery waiting to be discovered, a page waiting to be turned....and read.
If you ever are in the Jackson area and appreciate understated adventure, I highly recommend a trip to Choctaw Books. It's located at 926 North Street, between the Belhaven area and downtown. If you are familiar with the area at all, it's about a block or so from the old Jitney 14 (pronounced foe-teen).