(Part 4 in my Hometown Tourist Summer Blog Series)
If books were edible in circumstances other than apocalyptic survival tactics, i’d be gargantuan; i consume books like the American economy seems to consume and acquire debt, and, like most politicians, i have no shame in such consumption. As much as i love prowling the stacked-shelf aisles of the public library, there really is a kind of magic to being able to re-read books you’ve held in your hands before. For this reason, i am a confessed shopaholic when it comes to literature.
But, ever a lover of antiquity and story, i have always had a particular fondness for books that, in their physical selves, contain their own story. John Green has said that what makes us human is our love, proliferation, and creation of stories (in so many words). We need those gathered-round-the-table tales of our parents as youth to remind us of the time before us, as much as we need treasured books from our childhood to remind us of the truisms we continue to value when growing older. And books, by virtue of being the messengers of tales, are a treasure – but so too, i think, there is treasure to be found in imagining who else might have cracked wide the spine to behold that book’s bounty before. Used books, old books, second-hand bestsellers, therefore, are often my preferred packages for uncovering new tales of the human experience.
My taste for old books is one that was perhaps started, and certainly nurtured, by monthly trips with my father to a nook of Carrboro, North Carolina, that is a haven for recycled tales. In a break with the streak of restaurant reviews in my Hometown Tourist blog series, i thought i’d share some recollections and thoughts on this particular cranny of Carrboro known as Nice Price Books. It’s a place that, like the books it contains, weaves a tale entirely of its own.
In preparation of my vacation last week, i decided to take a trip to my beloved bookstore and see what the walls had in store for my reading whilst in South Carolina. Along the way i brought a stack of old books i was looking to sell – easily, the second best part of Nice Price Books as a place is that you can sell your old books (or vinyl, cassette tapes, CDs, DVDs…) in for store credit.
Whilst the incredibly friendly and funny clerk was appraising my hearty stack of Young Adult fiction and instruction manuals on learning Irish Gaelic (a hobby i regret i dropped after about, oh, a week of study), i contemplated my purchases.
Geographically, Nice Price has this really wonderful tumble-y feel; the aisles seem to bump into one another and, as i’m fairly certain this location was once someone’s home, you sort of have to wind, wiggle, and otherwise waddle your way around to navigate the unending sections. Like the sometimes-battered-ness of old books with creases where pages were marked or stains from coffee spilled an age ago, the store itself has a clean but warmly vintage atmosphere that constructs its own sort of narrative.
The best part of the mere looking, though, is that there is simply so much to look at. Unlike the spaciously grandiose monoliths of Borders, with its rows upon rows of freshly minted look-alikes, you really have to hunt for what you want on the shelves. Rarely do you see two of the same edition of books adjacent to one another, and as such the occasion calls for a close reading of all the titles and authors and genre headings.
And what genres there are to be had! Nice Price does a really phenomenal job of breaking down the quirky second-hand-helpings of former-hippie-commune-Carrboro into useful and particular groups. It’s definitely the used bookstore to go to if you have a very specific interest, but it also managed to capture plenty of favorites. To assist wandering book lovers, there are a number of DIY-type signs indicating the section you’ve wandered into – and some signs simply to indicate the store policies (my favorite of which can be found in the children/young adult section!).
Once i’d amassed a stack worthy of a publishing house bent on leading-lady-young-adult-borderline-adult-fantasy-sci-fi-page-turners, I returned to the counter at the helm of the house-store. My horde of books collected in the store managed to balance out almost precisely with the store credit given to me for the Gaelic how-to’s and old Goosebumps; for a total $25, i purchase five new-old books in ace condition. Nice Price is very, very true to its name, and equally true to its standards of quality!
The books procured included: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by (duh) J.K. Rowling in British first edition paperback (not pictured, as it was a gift that has since been parted with!); A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness (highly, highly recommended – review here!); The Mermaid Chair by Sue Monk Kidd (as yet unread, but i have high expectations per my love for her debut Secret Life of Bees (review here!)); Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen (the only work of hers i’ve yet left unopened, but i’m a big fan especially because she is from Chapel Hill and went to my alma mater!); and one of my all-time favorites, Into the Wild by Jon Krakaur.*
All in all, if you’re looking for really wonderful books from an authentic, welcoming, and warm place, look no further for a well-spun yarn than Nice Price Books. The store itself tells a story of its own!
current jam: ‘england’ the national.
best thing: walgreen’s one-hour photo!
*if you like books and like reading this blog (thanks for supplying my endless narcissism and need to write!) then you might-maybe-possibly would be interested to know we can be friends on goodreads!