I went in search of Sylvia Plath today and found her and much much more. To kick off my blog, I decided to begin with my personal favorite indie bookstore, The Book House at 9719 Manchester Road in Webster Groves (Rockhill), which I didn’t discover until about 2 years ago. Located in an 1865 historic Victorian Style home, the Book House has everything a book lover wants when it comes to actual books: new, used, rare, and unusual!
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I always have trouble telling people where it is, and I warn them that if they aren’t careful they will drive right by it which is exactly what I did the first time I went in search of it. From North Lindbergh, you turn left onto Manchester and I can now tell you it’s exactly 2.2 miles from there right behind the Titlemax. Just look for the street vendor sign. The Book House is owned by Michelle Barron and has been at its current location for over 20 years.
Two years ago when I first visited, the outside of the house was a pale shade of pink, with brighter pink trim and shutters. It has since received a color makeover, but still remains just as charming on the outside. You will definitely know it when you see it! There is ample parking as you approach the house nestled beneath the trees just on the edge of a small neighborhood, and as you approach the front doors you are usually greeted by a table or two of clearance books. Go ahead and take a look if you want but your book shopping journey has not even begun!
As you step inside what would be the foyer of the house, be prepared for book sensory overload. Immediately to your left and right are two rooms overflowing with books. In front of you is the narrow staircase leading upstairs to mostly nonfiction, flanked by a hallway that leads to a quaint room at the back of the house where you will find rare antiquarian books and your friendly cashier. Believe their website! There are nooks and crannies everywhere filled with books!
Just to the left you’ll discover fiction and mystery. Mostly paperbacks. And mostly used stock although there are some new books scattered within. You can usually tell which is which just by the price point alone, written in light pencil just on the inside at the top. Two comfy chairs invite you to sit a while, but don’t get too comfortable. You’ve barely started!
To the right of the entrance is a room devoted to children’s and teen lit, with a back wall filled with mostly hardcover fiction. I always hated shelving the kids’ books when I worked in bookstores, and hated turning my head sideways to search all those thin books for a customer even more.
So hats off to them for an entire room which is easy to shop and seems to be very well organized. In fact, for the most part, the entire house is very well organized and books seem to be in good alphabetical order.
Go back out to the entrance and walk down the hallway to find your cashier nestled amongst walls fill with mostly rare antiquarian volumes and collections, popular books like the new Mark Twain biography, and lots of other local interest. Turn to the right from there and you step down into the science fiction section. Being a long narrow room, my guess is it was possibly the kitchen to the old house at one time.
I’m not much of a Sci Fi fan, so I usually pass through to the cookbooks located on the back wall. But turn to the left and you’ll find a narrow staircase leading down to the “Big Bargain Basement.”