On my way to Cincinnati last month to hear an orchestra concert, as an afterthought, I Googled “used books Cincinnati.” Much to my delight, there was a promising looking used bookstore about three blocks from my hotel. And let me tell you, Ohio Book Store is the real deal. It is exactly the kind of bookstore I like. It’s big (five floors). It has a big general fiction section that was full of the kind of 20th century middlish brow fiction I tend to like. And the best part is, the internet doesn’t seem to exist in this place. In fact, the whole place gave off a distinct, lost in time kind of vibe. The building was old, the signs were old, the phone was old, and blessedly, the stock was old.
And the best part is that I had plenty of time on my hands. I think I spent about two and a half hours combing the shelves and absorbing the atmosphere.
The main floor had some of the rarer, pricier stock. In a first edition fiction section they had this mouthwatering display of Pyms. Those that know my blog, know that I already have all of these. Still, I almost bought the copy of Less Than Angels as my copy at home has a bit of a faded spine.
But for me, the real prize was on the top floor. The general fiction section. It was big, it was spacious, it was easy to browse, and, on a Friday afternoon, is was largely all mine.
You see that? From here to the windows. Both sides and part of the way down the side on the left edge of the photo. All general fiction. There was fair amount that was ex-library, but for someone like me who is looking for reading copies, that didn’t bother me one bit. And this was my kingdom for about two hours. I slowly went down the rows, kind of looking for familar authors, but when I began to discover the general vintage of the stock, I knew this would be an opportunity for new discoveries.
Seriously, how could I say no to this cover? Some sort of mid-century office drama. Yes, please.
This one was giving off a Nevil Shute vibe, and rightly so. I’ve already read it and quite enjoyed it, and there are many similarities with some of Shute’s work. Has a certain A Town Like Alice thing going for it. I should say, however, sometimes Shute’s choice of language was racially insensitive, but his message was generally not. Glaskin’s insensitivity seemed to go deeper than his poor choice of words. But since the man is dead and this was a used copy I didn’t feel like I was ennabling bad behavior by buying this one.
An author I know and like so I didn’t have to think too hared about picking up this great cover. You will see later in the photo of the stack of all my purchases that this wasn’t my only Jameson. And there were even more I left behind on the shelf.
Another author known to me, making an easy choice.
This one is the fictional diary (at least I think it is fictional) of a man who lives underground and whose job is to have one of the keys for the launch of a nuclear weapon.
What about this title, cover, illustrations, and opening lines makes you wonder why I put this one in my cart? Actually I didn’t have a cart, or even a basket. Made it somewhat of a challenge to get back down to the first floor with my purchases.
The whole stack. And all I had was carry-on luggage. Still, I managed to get it all home.
I didn’t buy this book, but don’t think I wasn’t tempted just for the bookplate. On the surface it is a lovely plate, but then look outside the open window, even the view is fantastic.
I worry about how many of these bound volumes of The Bookman I would buy if I lived in Cincinnati. Shelves and shelves of them. They had other bound periodicals as well, that would have provided years of good browsing, buying, and reading. Maybe I need to retire to Cincinnati.
Cincinnati wasn’t all books (or music for that matter). I was wary of Cincinnati Chili, cinammon doesn’t seem like something that should be in chili. But prior to my trip I did some research on food I should eat while I was in Cincy and read a bit about this dish. It’s seasoning comes out of a Greek tradition and doesn’t really have much (or anything?) to do with the chili that the rest of us know. So, thinking of it that way, I decided to give it a go, and I really liked it. In fact I had it again the next day. And now, about a week later, I would love another plate of it.
Locals waiting in line at the Blue Oven Bakery at Findlay Market seemed to have their sights set on loaves of bread and fresh-made pretzels, but I was intrigued by what were described as sliders. I got the sausage gravy one. Imagine a good, southern sausage gravy inside of a soft/chewy dinner roll. Yes, it was that good. Peppery and pillowy and one of the best things I have ever eaten. I went back the next day just to have it again and also had their cheeseburger version, which I may have liked even more. So good.
I went to the Cincinnati Museum Center just because it is housed in this fabulous train station from 1931. I really didn’t have much idea of what collections it had.
As if the fabulous building wasn’t enough, the history museum housed in one of its wings had enormous scale models of downtown Cincinnati. The biggest of them depicts the city in the 1940s. Another one, showing the train station is from the 1930s, and then there were other parts of town sown in other eras. If they had given me a stool to sit on, I would have stayed in front of the models all day. I lived out so many time travel fantasies while I studied these fantastic models.
The thing that really made these models come to life is the fact that so much of the historic fabric of the city is still there. And studying the models really gave me fresh eyes when I walked around the city. If they had better flight connections to the rest of the world, I would consider living in Cincinnati.