Bookshops In Art And Illustration

Vellichor: The strange wistfulness of used bookshops



Martin walks past the tables to the far wall. A small sign identifies it as LITERATURE. A wry smile begins to stretch across his face but its progress is halted as he regards the top shelf of books. There, neatly aligned with only their spines showing, are the books he read and studied twenty years ago at university. Not just the same titles, but the same battered paperback editions, arranged like his courses themselves. There is Moby DickThe Last of the Mohicans and The Scarlet Letter, sitting to the left of The Great GatsbyCatch-22 and Herzog. There’s The Fortunes of Richard MahonyFor Love Alone and Coonardoo, leading to Free FallThe Trial and The Quiet American. There’s a smattering of plays: The CaretakerRhinoceros and The Chapel Perilous. He pulls out a Penguin edition of A Room with a View, its spine held together by adhesive tape turned yellow with age. He opens it, half expecting to see the name of some forgotten classmate, but instead the name that greets him is Katherine Blonde. He replaces the book, careful not to damage it. Dead woman’s books, he thinks. He takes out his phone and snaps a photograph.

Sitting on the next shelf down are newer books, some looking almost untouched. James Joyce, Salman Rushdie, Tim Winton. He can’t discern any pattern in their arrangement. He pulls one out, then another, but there are no names written inside. He takes a couple of books and is turning to sit in one of the comfortable armchairs when he is startled, flinching involuntarily. A young woman has somehow appeared at the end of the central aisle.

‘Find anything interesting?’ she asks, smiling, her voice husky. She’s leaning nonchalantly against a bookshelf.

Scrublands by Chris Hammer 2018
Anton Pieck 1971
THE BEAN & THE SCENE (1969) Barbara Westman, The Harvard Lampoon and the Starr Book Shop full of old books
THE BEAN & THE SCENE (1969) Barbara Westman, The Harvard Lampoon and the Starr Book Shop full of old books
The Bookshop of Dust and Dreams
Bookshop from Chinese picture book
Richard Erdoes (1912-2008) 1967 illustration for his own children’s book Peddlers and Vendors Around the World
Book shop by Arthur Getz (1913-1996), 1962
Norman Mills Price (1877 – 1951) book shop
Edward Penfield (1866-1925) Illustrations for The Dreamers A Club by John Kendrick Bangs. Published by Harper & Brothers, 1899
Arthur Getz July 20, 1957, of a bookstore in New York City
Bookshop on Sicilian Avenue London 1920 (AI generated colorisation based on a photo with unknown photographer)
ENEMY, DENIS VILLENEUVE (2013) bookstore

Header: ‘The Gleaners.’ (c1929) Stanley Anderson


On paper, things look fine. Sam Dennon recently inherited significant wealth from his uncle. As a respected architect, Sam spends his days thinking about the family needs and rich lives of his clients. But privately? Even his enduring love of amateur astronomy is on the wane. Sam has built a sustainable-architecture display home for himself but hasn’t yet moved into it, preferring to sleep in his cocoon of a campervan. Although they never announced it publicly, Sam’s wife and business partner ended their marriage years ago due to lack of intimacy, leaving Sam with the sense he is irreparably broken.

Now his beloved uncle has died. An intensifying fear manifests as health anxiety, with night terrors from a half-remembered early childhood event. To assuage the loneliness, Sam embarks on a Personal Happiness Project:

1. Get a pet dog

2. Find a friend. Just one. Not too intense.




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