Good Book Hunting, July 8, 2021: It’s a Mystery BookStore, Berryville, Arkansas

I mentioned that I learned about the It’s a Mystery BookStore in Berryville, Arkansas, in April when I was looking for a road trip destination and almost almost made the big mistake of going which would have triggered a Wuhan flu celebratory quarantine for my youngest since going thirty minutes into Arkansas was more dangerous according to the Official Protocols than going four hours to a different corner of Missouri.

Now that the media hysteria about the DELTAEPSILONTRILAMBDA variant(s) is spinning up just in time to close the schools for the next year, I decided we should jump to and make the trip now instead of August right before school starts to ensure that we beat out any late breaking protocols and service interruptions.

So we drove down Highway 13, through Kimberling City and Lampe. I made a wrong turn in Blue Eye which added maybe a half hour to our trip (I’m at Big Cedar Lodge? D’oh!) And I got off the track a little ways down the right direction, but apparently all roads in the top of Arkansas lead to Berryville, so we arrived at the quaint town square book shop. Which required masks, so the oldest chose to read in the car instead of look for new books. And the youngest came in to remind me often of how much time I was spending.

The shop itself is not that large–none of the shops on the square are, as the buildings date from the late 19th century, but I managed to find something.

I got:

  • Four Diagnosis: Murder books by Lee Goldberg: The Past Tense, The Silent Partner, The Death Merchant, and The Shooting Script. You might recall, gentle reader, that I picked up a couple of these books in May after reading a couple of Monk books during my television-and-movie books phase earlier this year. I thought the books were priced at fifty cents each as the price inside is 4/2 (some books outside were five for a buck or free), so I grabbed them all. Turns out I already had the last two. Well, they will be a good gift for someone. And the notation in the front is not actually the price–or it is fractionally, as the books were $2 each.
  • Conan the Barbarian by L. Sprague de Camp and Lin Carter and Conan the Destroyer by Robert Jordan, the movie tie-ins.
  • Conan the Invincible by Robert Jordan, another Conan book.
  • Speaking of Robert E. Howard, I got paperback copies of Black Vulmea’s Vengance, Three-Bladed Doom, Tigers of the Sea, and The Hour of the Dragon: The Weird Works of Robert E. Howard Volume Four.
  • King Solomon’s Mines by Rider Haggard. Technically, this could also be considered a movie book since it was made into a movie with Richard Chamberlain in the 1980s.
  • The Best of Saki by Saki. You know, I am pretty sure this is the first Saki I have outside of some of the college textbook anthologies I have held onto but have not yet fully read.
  • The Samurai: The Philosophy of Victory by Robert T. Samuel. It’s the only hardback I bought, and it’s a Barnes and Noble edition that combines short bits with a lot of art for a quick, easy read. I bet it offers quite the contrast to Hagakure: The Book of the Samurai written by an actual, you know, samurai.

I also got a Jackie Gleason CD, Lush Moods. It says it’s two LPs on one CD, but it does not indicate which LPs it might be. Perhaps they only mean that it’s 20 songs. The proprietrix of the shop commented that she likes Jackie Gleason but that most people did not know what he did before television and the movies. Ah, but gentle reader, as you know, I have accumulated a number of Jackie Gleason LPs over the years, so you know I wondered which LPs were on the CD.

At any rate, the final accounting (for such few bullet points) was about fifty dollars (apparently, the paperbacks were not fifty cents each). And it was my lucky day, for I visited the ATM machine and entered my PIN number a couple days ago and had some cash in my wallet.

Because a lot of Berryville is cash or check. No fooling.

Not only did the bookstore not accept credit cards, but the first restaurant we stepped into for lunch was cash or check only as well. To be honest, the strange throwback, trusting checks but not taking a 5% hit on every transaction for security, as a bit disorienting. So if you’re going to Berryville, bring cash.

Which, you know, I might do again someday. It’s only about an hour and a half down if you don’t miss the turn in Blue Eye, which is not that much longer than a trip to the remaining used book stores in St. Louis from anywhere, and although it’s a bit longer than the trip to ABC Books or Hooked on Books, it’s an event in itself.

Although I did not take my beautiful wife along yesterday, I can envision doing so in the future. She likes to dream of trips to exotic places, but I am coming to appreciate trips to small towns in America.

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