Saturday, November 4, 2023

Unca Mike's Guide To North American Bookstores: Unicorn Bookshop


From the outside, it's just a nondescript brick building with a cool sign. But inside, Unicorn Bookshop in Trappe, Maryland, is everything a secondhand book store should be: eccentrically laid out in a labyrinth of small rooms that are crammed  with a great variety of books--and, for a bonus, a map room on the second floor.

There is a separate room for notably old or autographed or first edition or particularly valuable books, but when I visit (once every so many years) I always start with the fiction shelves. The books are meticulously curated coming into the shop but after they've been shelved...not so much. Some have been there so long they've drifted away from their original placement. A novel by Richard Harding Davis is shelved beside James Branch Cabell. Here and there are non-fiction books with titles suggesting that they're novels and collections of poems by writers better known for their prose.

All this makes hunting for books that much more exciting. Recently, a friend lamented that online book buying meant that there was no longer any reason for him to go to bookstores. But if I hadn't dropped in, would I know that I needed a copy of Ben Hecht's One Thousand and One Afternoons in Chicago? I'd never heard of it. Or a paperback (headed, ultimately, for our Little Free Library) of Kipling's Rewards and Fairies, a sequel to his far more famous Puck of Pook's Hill? 

I seriously doubt it.

So, yeah, I recommend you spend a long, rainy afternoon there sometime. The books are reasonably priced, there are comfy chairs here and there in the shop, and the proprietor is a genial man. Time spent there is time well wasted.

Oh, and in the general fiction section are two copies of my Jack Faust in hardcover, not at all expensive, which I autographed the last time I was there, a year ago. Would somebody please go and buy them? They're depressing the hell out of me.

Oh, and . . .

Here's a photo of the door to the bookstore. Wondering why there's a Universal No Deer sign on it?  You can read the entire amazing story here. Immediately followed by a poem chronicling the event, for those who won't believe anything unless it's put into verse.


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