After lunch we headed into Frankfort for a little bit of shopping. While mom checked out antiques one of my sisters and I popped into the bookstore. A small, crammed with books style indie shop with $1 literary buttons at the cash register and a cute kids corner with a fish tank. They’re speciality is Kentucky books, but they do offer other books.
Past the kids corner are some stairs that state more books are upstairs. So I headed up, unnerved a bit by the creaking and found that on the landing was someone’s office and you had to walk past a computer and desk full of papers and up more stairs to get to the second floor. After checking with the young woman working the front desk that there was indeed more books upstairs and that it was okay to walk through the small office area I headed up, with my sister in tow. The second floor is used books.
The second floor was insane. Unlit and with only a light switch near the entrance we found ourselves in a dusty long room, with light pouring in through the big windows on one side. The ceiling fan lights were too difficult for us to reach to try and turn on leaving us in semi-darkness.
The books in the attic were ancient. When the lady downstairs had said it was the used book section I had expected something like 50 used copies of Twilight, cook books with food stains, and a large section of Harlequin romance novels. Instead we were hit with that old book smell and old coverless hardbacks, held together by sheer force of will anywhere from 50 to 100 plus years old. There was barely rhyme or reason as to where things were and what they were. A fiction section of books from eras long gone left me looking at copies of books stating they were book 3 in a series with no book 1 or 2 in sight let alone an understanding about what the book was about, without carefully opening the book in the hopes it wouldn’t fall apart in my hands to try to get an idea. Some of them had little notes in them, making them gifts from some family member or friend in the early 1900’s.
Being in a bookstore where you can’t recognize 90% of the books, have a reference point for them, or any idea about what they are was a bit overwhelming while also a fun not-judging-a-book-by-its-cover exercise. There just wasn’t enough time to even make a dent in the books to try to pick out what I might be interested in reading. The dim lighting didn’t help. In the end I grabbed one book that had caught my eye and which upon opening the sketch in the front and a poem before the story began made me decide to take it home.
The books weren’t expensive so I grabbed it and retreated downstairs to confront the women at the front desk for having not prepared us for the insanity that is the upstairs. (jokingly of course) I also asked her a very very basic question of how. How on earth did all those ancient books, half of which look like they need to be repaired end up in the attic without a hideous price tag on them? The answer? Estate sales. One of the owners frequented estate sales and just kept buying books and the poor lady at the check out desk’s job is to go through and slowly organize them. Job security for sure, but also what a daunting task.
As much as I wanted to fill my suitcase up with books to take back to Korea I limited myself. Which was hard, allowing myself only one book from the attic was insanely difficult. Did I get the right book? Was there another book that would have been life transforming had I just kept looking a little longer? Not a clue. I ended up returning to Korea with 7 fat books (it was all that could fit) in my suitcase anyway and having filled up my nook. So hopefully that will be enough for a while.
There is one more thing I want to say about Poor Richard’s books. It’s connected to two other shops. There are three in total in this little area all connected. The bookshop has a side entrance into an even dimmer indie coffee shop called Kentucky Coffeetree cafe with a single bathroom. I got a chai latte and soaked up a bit of the atmosphere for a moment. The other shop is a gift shop of sorts, Completely Kentucky, which sells food and crafts and if you want some advice on places to go in the area, any of these shops can be super helpful.
Poor Richard’s bookstore is open from 10-6pm Monday through Friday, Saturday 10-5 pm and Sunday 12:30-5pm. If you’ve got time and energy make sure to check out the second floor.