Monday, November 20, 2006

BOOKS: And More Books

Some of you oldtimers who've been coming to this site for a while may remember the photos I posted of my bookshelves prior to the Great Unbookening of '05. A goodly portion of the books on those shelves came from a venerable used-book store called Hannelore Headley's, named for its owner and proprietor, a store which I had the great fortune to live around the corner from during my university years.

Rusty and I went back to this university town last week to visit his family, and I had an opportunity to visit Hannelore Headley's for the first time in ten years. It was like nothing had changed -- except the store has gotten even better!

Each of the many, many rooms on the shop's two floors is even fuller than I remember (those shelves of books? They're all DOUBLE-STACKED, dude!), there are even more loose piles of books creeping up from the floors to the ceilings, and the air is even more redolent with that rich, old-book smell. Mmmm-mmmm. (And does the above photo give you deja vu? Perhaps it reminds you of the used-book store aesthetic I courted in my pre-unbookening days.)

Headley's was the perfect store if you were a poor, book-loving student. It had EVERYTHING, and rarely did any book (except for the "old and fine books," which were obviously beyond my means and therefore didn't register on my radar) cost more than a fiver. Most were in the one- to two-dollar range, which meant that you could walk into the store with twenty bucks and walk out with a bulging, overflowing, book-filled grocery bag -- this being a fitting receptacle, what with the fact that you'd just spent your entire food budget for the week. But who cares! Hunger pangs come and go, but books last forever.

It came as no surprise, then, that I walked into Headley's intending to take a few photos and a brief nostalgic tour... and ended up walking out half an hour later with a bag full of books I'd later find myself struggling to force into my suitcase. On the plus side, I also got to eat dinner! Times have changed, mon frere.


Andi said...


That is a poor student's idea of heaven.

Anonymous said...

Ok, so I'm the opposite of an oldtimer - where did you go to school? Because I'm looking at some schools in canada (for an MLS...ironically? Is that irony? I don't think so) and yeah, a bookstore like that close by is a HUGE checkmark in the Pro column.

Carrie said...

so, whadya get?

Tammy said...

Ohhh, solaana, you don't want to go where I went to school. Let me put it this way: that bookstore, plus the fact that I met Rusty and our very good friends Glark and Tara there when we were students, are pretty much the only pluses of my undergrad years.

Carrie! I was hoping someone would ask:

The Hat on the Bed and The Big Laugh by John O'Hara
The Van by Roddy Doyle
Anil's Ghost by Michael Ondaatje
Girl, 20 by Kingsley Amis
Jenny & The Jaws of Life by Jincy Willett
And a lovely old-school hardcover Modern Library edition of The Grapes of Wrath (despite the fact that I already have two other copies of this book)


landismom said...

Looks like a great bookstore. I went a little crazy in a bookstore this weekend, myself, though unfortunately mine was not a nice, cheap, used bookstore.

restlessly said...

That's my ideal bookstore, right there. Cheap, good books in abundance.

Anonymous said...

As an Old Timer and as a recipient of three books as part of the Great Unbooking, I'm compelled to comment. My college town has a similar used book shop - Websters - that took a good portion of my food budget. Of course Webster's is also a cafe, so you could actually buy a book and an espresso, sit out in the crisp Pennsylvania autumn air and read.

I miss college...

Anonymous said...

Oh! Oh! Did you know Hannelore has a second store? It's on St. Paul, across from a really great Thai restuarant!

And (playing Devil's advocate), have you been to The Book Depot yet?

Anonymous said...

One word: Heaven

Anonymous said...

Ahhh, thanks for the warning (hoping it's not UBC, then, because I really kind of want to go there). And I don't know why I wrote that in the first place because: Powell's and the 57th St. Books have spoiled me for life. Esp. Powell's, since they regularly give books away. Which is why my room looks like this. But I can't wait to hear what you have to say about Anil's Ghost since that book's been sitting on my shelf for a while waiting for me to be in a deep book type of mood.

Anonymous said...

Hannelore Headley also has a fascinating book about her young years in Shanghai called Blond China Doll.

The year: 1936. Berlin Germany suffocates under the grip of the Nazis.

Not a good year to bring a Jewish child into the world. However, my parents Paula and Heinz Heinemann were delighted when I was born February 29th, a leap year baby.

"Our narrow escape in 1939 to Shanghai, China and the subsequent years in the Jewish Ghetto of Hongkew under Japanese rule are vividly described in my autobiographical account, Blond China Doll. We remained in Shanghai after the war and were there when the Communists took over in 1949."

Anonymous said...

Ms. Headley's bookstore is such a goldmine. Whatever you're interested in, she has it, and can probably tell you something about it too. Whenever I go in there, I come out with at least a box of books, and a feeling of adventure and triumph. Its just so dickensian too.

Anonymous said...

I used to spend hours each day there reading. I also love the musty smell of old books and the peacefulness of being around this place. I was surprised to find it was still operating after nearly 20 yrs since I have been there.

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