In Seattle there are a large number of bookstores, used and new alike. But by far, my favorite is Twice Sold Tales. Settled into the Capital Hill area of Seattle, you could not ask for a used bookstore with a more eclectic collection of materials or a more eccentric setting. This is not your mass produced, corporate owned, bourgeois, bookshop. This is one of those rare little “hole-in-the-wall” places that, if you are lucky enough to stumble upon, you will immediately fall in love with and find yourself coming back time and time again.
When you first enter the old brick building, you cannot help but notice how absolute full of books this store is. The store is literally stacked floor to ceiling all the way up to the door, which doesn’t even open all of the way because there is a massive bookcase (full of discount books) that runs the entire length of the entryway, thus beginning the veritable labyrinth of books that is the store.
Since fairytales and folktales are my favorite, I usually try to make a beeline to the mythology section. I say try because I often get lost; there are just so many twists and turns. However, even if I am lucky enough not to lose my sense of direction it is still at best only a fifty-fifty chance as to whether or not I will make it all the way to the mythology section. This is mostly because it is extremely easy to become distracted by all sorts of unexpected treasures along the way.
However, what truly makes this store special are the people who work there. This is a store run by truly passionate readers. If you ask for a recommendation, I heartily suggest that you have a notebook and good walking shoes on, because the woman who runs the place is going to give you a workout. For example, on my most recent visit to Twice Sold Tales with the family, I observed the owner helping a young man who had expressed a vague interest/desire in dystopian novels. Half an hour, no less than 6 recommendations (ranging from classics to modern publications), and at least three laps of the store later the young man stood overwhelmed by the sheer volume of information he had been given to process. It was spectacular to observe this eruption of information come forth. Especially, because this woman was so excited about what she was talking about, and so pleased to be sharing it. It was such a refreshing change from the type of help one observes in the standard chain book stores: where they may (by corporate policy) be required to escort you to the area of the bookstore your query pertains to, but aren’t so forth coming with recommendations.
Finally, I would be remiss if I did not mention that while the store may be owned and operated by humans, it is very clearly run by cats. How many exactly, I am not sure. But the kitties have full run of the book store and can often be found lounging up against great works of literature, under carts, on top of bookshelves, and occasionally even using the scratching posts and cat towers that are provided for them throughout the store. It gives the store a homey touch that only adds to its unique and quirky character – even if it does wreak havoc on my allergies.