I love indie bookstores. Love them. So it still surprises me that I haven’t yet been on the hunt for some good ones here in Little Rock. I think I love used books the most. They have been passed from hand to hand and loved well. The edges of the pages are browning with the oil from fingertips (and maybe spit) and every magical once-in-awhile there is a little notation scribbled on a page from someone who thought long and hard about what the author had to say. So since I’ve had a bit of a slow week, I decided to head downtown and visit River Market Books in downtown Little Rock.
But let me say first… I picked a bad day to go downtown because I discovered, once I landed upon Rivermarket Drive, that tomorrow would be the beginning of River Fest. The roads were crammed with cars and traffic was miserable. It was also a ponytail day. I wasn’t expecting that heat. Stupid weather app.
It was relatively calm where I parked. Most of the riffraff was concentrated closer to the River Market. So I enjoyed the beautiful walk and discovered some cute places on the way that I didn’t know existed, like Strattor’s Market.
This quaint little place has some fun European delicacies, cheeses, and pastries as well as a small selection of local produce and a huge collection of fine wines. Unfortunately, they were re-doing something in the deli so the meal and coffee portion of the store was temporarily closed.Of course, it wouldn’t be the Rivermarket District if there wasn’t a cute yellow trolley to greet you as you patiently wait for it to turn so you could cross the street.
But let’s talk books now. Afterall, this is a Lifestyle and Literature blog. River Market Books ,which is a part of the Central Arkansas Library System , smells like all used bookstores should. Like ancient paper, dust, and the roaming eyes of a thousand men and women. Or something like that. It just smells old but not in a bad way. And that is totally what you should expect from a used bookstore.
Charming, isn’t it? So charming!! It seems like every bookstore I enter has a shelf with employee book suggestions and cleverly handwritten cards in front of each one. At River Market Books, however, the “staff picks” shelf had a more rustic appeal. This little cart graced the front entrance and added to the ambiance of the place.
I have to say, though, as cute as this place was, I didn’t find much of a selection there, though I did almost swipe Annie Dillard’s For the Time Being. I read one of Dillard’s essays last semester. That woman sure can write a beautiful sentence. I could learn something from her. And oh yeah, I did. Annie won the Pulitzer Prize for Pilgrim at Tinker Creek and her book, The Writing Life is a must-have for any fiction or non-fiction writers. Oh. And there were comic books. One of them was titled Lois Lane. If I were ever going to read a comic book, which I never have, it would be that one.
On the second floor was a meeting room for book clubs and knitting clubs and whatever else might go on in a bookstore owned by a library.
I think it’s places like this that remind me that bookstores are still important. Yes, we’re going to still buy online. Small businesses are also found online. That is how people are making a living, now. But independent bookstores still serve a purpose. They are a place for community, a place to learn something new, a place to find pathways to escape and adventure. Find your nearest used bookstore and go support them, as well.