Monday, February 18, 2008

The Moving Bookshop

Today was one of those rare days: the Budza had camp, it was a holiday, and my husband and I each had the day off from work. Whee hee! It was awful weather: high wind, lashing rain--and my husband had a terrible cold, but we weren't going to let THAT stop us. We dropped the Budza at school-vacation-week camp, stopped for cold meds and tea and a map (we lose maps of Massachusetts like some people lose socks), and steered the car up Route 1A to Marblehead, to have a long, uninterrupted book truffle without a restless child in tow.

Our true destination, Much Ado Books, would have been an even wetter drive. It turns out the owners of that store picked up a few years back and moved their shop to England. More specifically, to a 1370 building on the High street of the medieval village of Alfriston in Sussex. Lucky them!

Back in Marblehead, Massachusetts, the store's new owners are ensconced in different digs, and the store has a new name, Artists + Authors.

It's still a great store. There are certain signs that present themselves to the long-term connoisseur of the used-and-rare book store. A shop bell is usually, but not always, a good beginning. But, setting that aside, it's encouraging to find:

--a shop cat in old wicker chair (extra points for a cat door leading into a back room)
--multiple floors
--more than four corners per room
--entrire bookcases devoted to an obscure range of the Dewey decimal system, like ballooning or circuses
--A full bookcase devoted to books about books

Artists + Authors scores high on all counts. The shop cat, Dust Jacket, was extremely friendly and talkative and made us feel welcome. We spent a long time browsing, hitting mostly the children's books, folktales, natural history, biography, and mystery. We could have spent days more browsing, and as it was limited ourselves to a handful of titles. My husband came away with The Moving Toyshop by Edmund Crispin, Henry Bates, Naturalist of the Amazons by George Woodcock, and The Arcturus Adventure by William Beebe. I contented myself with The Rivals of Sherlock Holmes: Early Detective Stories by Hugh Greene, The Emperor's Snuff-Box by John Dickson Carr, Skeleton-in-Waiting by Peter Dickinson, and a new children's author I didn't know, Edward Fenton. They had three or four of his mid-century kids' books, but I limited myself to The Riddle of the Red Whale. I'm going to have to keep a lookout for The Phantom of Walkaway Hill.

And, who knows, by the time Budza is old enough to enjoy a good long bookstore truffle himself, we might visit Much Ado in their not-so-new digs.


  1. I wish I's spent the day in bookshops. We had nice weather and I did the next best thing-spent the day in the elementary school library!

  2. Aah, a bookshop with a resident cat. Always a good sign...

  3. It sounds so decadent to have a day like that! I can't enter a bookstore without spending way too much.

  4. I am relating to the tea and cold meds, but a good book can make me forget my sore throat.

  5. Hi, Ann! My name is Myriah Boyer and I am in 5th grade. I just read your book, Hatching Magic. I think you are a great writer so I'm doing H.M. for my booktalk in front of my class. I just wanted to ask a question. I was thinking I could have an online chat with you to actually talk to an author. Here's my email: My booktalk is due February 25 so talk to me before then. Bye, Ann Downer! - Your thoughtful reader, Myriah R. B.