One of the things I loved about Homer was its bookstores. This small Alaskan town hosts three, and we dedicated a couple afternoons to poking around in two of them. During our first full day in Homer, we had breakfast at the excellent Two Sisters bakery, and then went up the road to the nearby Old Inlet Bookshop, located not far from Homer’s main beach.
The Old Inlet offers an enormous selection of used books, many stacked on the floor along the sides of the aisles. It’s one of those stores where you’re filled with awe at how much there is to read in the world. One of those stores where you pick up a book you’ve never heard of on a topic in which you never thought you’d have an interest. And yet there you are, standing in an aisle, transfixed.
I wound up flipping through Jean Henri Fabre’s illustrated book on insects (you can see it in the stacks in the photo above), particularly the pages on cicadas. I didn’t wind up buying it, but I was tempted.
The Old Inlet’s second floor is mostly dedicated to fiction and literature, with some history along the back wall.
The fiction section’s shelves often have books two rows deep, so that you only ever see a small sliver of the store’s collection. There is something comforting about this magnitude of books. A comfort that resonates in this particular location, at the edge of an Alaskan peninsula, where there are winters of darkness.
On our trip, at the height of summer daylight, I was struck by this sunlit upstairs space, and the coziness of this wicker-chaired nook amid the novels.
The owner keeps the literature grouped in rough alphabetical order, separating out the hardcover from the paperback and — delightfully — creating a whole section for short stories.
I wound up buying this one: Best American Short Stories from 1946. An amazing find. J. found the sequel to the John Cheever novel he was reading, and a hardcover copy of The Godfather.
And, to boot, the owner of The Old Inlet is an incredibly nice guy — a former fisherman and a writer in his own right. He and my husband and I wound up talking for quite some time about running and fishing and writing and books. He even lent us his phone and tried to track down a local race for J. while we were in town.
I can’t recommend this bookstore highly enough. Whiling away an afternoon there was an utter pleasure.
p.s. You’re in luck today! My good friend John over at Oh John Carroll has a terrific new post on Moe’s Books and City Lights Bookstore in the San Francisco area. Go check it out!