Changing our name from Wellington Square Bookshop to “The Best Kept Secret in Chester County” seems logical to me, given that at least once per week I meet a local who strolls in for the first time, having had no idea we have existed for years. Upon meeting “first-timers”, I am excited to point out the used book collection in the back of the store. Where else can you find a thoroughly captivating, often best-selling book in hardback for $4.95?
Our used non-fiction, in particular, fascinates me. This esoteric and eclectic
collection represents topics as varied as World War II missions, parenting advice,
spiritual encouragement, coffee table books of dog photography, a travel guide
of Paris and instructions on the practice of yoga. The biography selection alone
encompasses such a wide variety of characters (Ayn Rand, Nancy Reagan, Mark
Twain, Ted Hughes) a reader could get lost for hours.
Recently, a used copy of Stephen Hawking’s The Universe in a Nutshell found
its way onto our shelves. Though familiar with and in awe of Stephen Hawking, I
did not think his subject matter was accessible for a non-science/non-math brain
like mine (think colors person in a numbers world). After all, Stephen Hawking
is a genius – an intellectual icon. I was unaware of his ability to synthesize
information in a clear and concise manner. In this book, Hawking aims to explain
some high level concepts to a more general audience; a nice way of saying he
tries really hard to “dumb it down”. I would say Hawking is somewhat successful.
Every page includes photographs or colorful illustrations creating a physics
picture book. Most striking is Hawking’s sense of humor. I often found myself
chuckling at his remarks, like a favorite uncle zinging one-liners at family dinners.
In all honesty, there are still large parts of this book that are just not getting
through to me, but I really enjoyed much of it. This is the kind of book I could
see myself going back to over the years and possibly making notes in as
The Universe in a Nutshell is just one of many books in our used science
collection. I find our used science books intriguing, but I may be even more
infatuated with the used history section where Stephen Greenblatt’s Pulitzer prize
winner, The Swerve: How the World Became Modern, resides alongside Flyboys,
Band of Brothers and other accounts of world history. Fans of Michael Lewis
will find The Big Short in the business section. I have my eye on Seabiscuit and
Betrayal, the story of Aldrich Ames, as well as a few other biographies.
Stop in and browse the used non-fiction. What you find may surprise and delight