Store: The Eloquent Page
Location: Saint Albans, VT
Recommendation: The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
The first store of the second VT Bookstore Adventure trip took me north and was a bit of a surprise.
The Eloquent Page, located on the main street of Saint Albans, is actually a used bookstore.
Well, not entirely used, there was one shelf labeled “new books this shelf” but every other book was used.
And there were a lot of books. Books everywhere you looked. Stacked on the floor, on shelves, on tables. It made me think of the cemetery of forgotten books in the Carlos Ruiz Zafón novels.
Originally I hadn’t planned on visiting used bookstores. There are just so many of them out there. But since I was already in Saint Albans, I decided to check it out anyway.
It took me a while to figure out The Eloquent Page’s filing system but after some exploration I was able to discern the sections… fiction, romance, cookbooks. Nothing was labeled but there were definite categories.
And at first I was put off by the shelves because books were stacked traditionally across and then more books were piled on top, but after a bit I kind of got into it.
I think the store contained just about any book you could want. And at least a couple of customers brought books in to sell while we were there, so if you couldn’t find your novel of choice you’d probably just have to wait a couple of minutes.
We distracted ourselves with thigh-high stack of Time Life books about the civil war that were printed in the early eighties until the book selling customers left and then I introduced myself to the woman at the desk.
(No counter and cash register for The Eloquent Page. My receipt was handwritten, as were most of the prices on the books. Somehow it added to the store’s atmosphere.)
Donna was pretty busy, being alone and surrounded by hundreds of books she need to get on the shelves (I don’t see how they could possibly fit. The shelves were already bulging!) but she did make a recommendation and found it on the shelf without even thinking about it. I got the feeling she could have located any book just as easily.
I have to admit that my first thought when she suggested The Pillars of the Earth was “oh, crap!”
I had listened to an episode of the Literary Disco podcast that completely trashed the book and I specifically remember thinking, “That’s one book I’ll never read.”
But Donna said she re-read it every couple of years and I figured if it’s the comfort read of someone who knows books like Donna appears to know books, I should at least give it a shot.
Plus it was less than $4! She had some rare books and first editions in that store. I could have been in real financial trouble if she had recommended one of those.
Donna also told me that there is a used, rare and antique book organization in Vermont and they host several book fairs. She gave me a pamphlet listing its members and information about the events.
While used bookstores weren’t part of the original plan, I’m glad I went to Saint Albans.
One of my colleagues loves to haunt yard sales and is always talking about his “finds.” I think flea markets and tag sales are just a bunch of junk, but when I’m in a store like The Eloquent Page I can understand his enthusiasm. You never know what treasure (in this case, literary treasure) is lurking around the corner.