Friday, July 6, 2018

Left Bank Books

Bookstore: Left Bank Books

Location: St. Louis, Missouri

Why I Love Them: Back in 2010 my friend Sarah was getting married in Arkansas and that meant a road trip was in order! My friend Matt is from St. Louis so on the way to and from Arkansas we stopped for a few days in his hometown. With his family obligations and going to his favorite haunts it felt a little like pulling teeth to get a bookstore on the itinerary. But I prevailed! I wasn't going to go to St. Louis and NOT visit Left Bank Books. For years I'd heard of them because some publishers view the only stop in the Midwest worth sending their authors to is St. Louis. Hello, you've heard of Chicago right? It's a FAR EASIER drive for someone from Wisconsin, in that it's not over six hours one way! But enough about my gripes, because I finally got to pass through the hallowed doors of Left Bank Books and was surprisingly a little let down. The neighborhood is cute, lots of old brick buildings and mature trees. Inside though it's smaller than I imagined, not that that's a bad thing. I just couldn't picture how they had these massive signings on site, I now realize they probably were all offsite... But more than anything it was really open and bright and didn't have much stock. No signed editions laying about, no carefully curated specialty editions of books. Instead it seemed space was desired over books, and I personally can never approve that kind of stylistic choice, especially in a bookstore! Yet my issues do not indicate that I was unable to find something special... because there was one part of the store I loved. The basement!    

Best Buy: The basement of Left Bank Books is what a bookstore should be so it's rightfully where I found my best buy. It was jammed with shelves and shelves of used, remainder, overstock, all the goodness that I love. Here was the carefully curated sections that the first floor had eschewed. Here was a place where I could spend hours. Though I didn't have hours with a family dinner looming, I was able to take advantage of it's labyrinthine structure to get "lost" for awhile. Yes. I hid. Amongst the books. On purpose. There's never a better place to get lost. Plus, on a side note, we really didn't need to hurry as the dinner prep hadn't even started by the time we arrived. I could have stayed with the books longer! But no matter how long I stayed at the store I had already found my best buy, so time was now irrelevant. As I remember it I found a first edition of George Mann's The Affinity Bridge surrounded by light as there was this large window right next to the science fiction section with a white brick ledge. But I know this can't be so, we were underground! Looking on Google Earth there's no convenient pit or egress, so where did this light come from? Perhaps it was just the book. It knew it had to be mine because I'd heard such good things about it and as it turned out in just over a year I would meet George at TeslaCon. He has easily become one of my favorite writers, and I consider him a friend. All of this goes back to that bookstore and the light from a window that couldn't have been.      


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