Intrepid former Algonquin intern David Bradley and his trusty sidekick, Lucky the Leprechaun, hit the road this past summer for a tour of (almost all) the coolest, hippest, greatest indie bookstores in the United States. Join us for the journey…
CLARKSBURG, Maryland — In a small town outside of our nation’s capital there resides a little store with a big heart. Opened by Patrick Darby less than three years ago, Novel Books (until recently known as Novel Places) provides the town of Clarksburg with a broad variety of books and a hot spot for community gatherings. Novel Books’ connection with Clarksburg goes deep, as the store is located on an historic property, has sections for the whole family, and holds fun Magic the Gathering nights open to a crowd of players. This is where Clarksburg gets its books.
That being said, you don’t have to be from Clarksburg to enjoy this store. Just look at Lucky. He’s never been to Clarksburg, but within ten minutes of stepping into Novel Books he was getting cozy in the children’s area and having (surprisingly in-depth) discussions with a playful little pup. I left Lucky’s loquacious self and explored the rest of the store, finding terrific deals on bargain books, offerings in plenty of genres as well as the expected bestsellers, and some stunning photos for my album. Novel Books isn’t a complicated store. It doesn’t have trap doors or hidden corners, high tech machines or intricate sections. It’s a simple store with a bunch of books and plenty of personality. And sometimes simple is best.
Owner Patrick Darby answered the Algonquin Questionnaire.
When did Novel Books open?
I opened the store in June of 2011, although we’ve been called Novel Places until very recently.
What is the oddest book in the store?
I’ll do you one better and give you the oddest books I’ve ever seen. They’re the Firefox Survival books. It’s this terribly odd and eclectic series with tips on how to survive in the wild, but the subjects are just whatever was on the author’s mind at the time. One volume might tell you how to make a camp fire, build a log cabin, and make moonshine within a few pages.
What is the oddest non-book item you sell here?
It’d have to be the Magic the Gathering cards and equipment that we sell at the counter. It’s very popular in the area and we’re lucky enough to host a league and some tournaments in the store.
What is your favorite Algonquin book and your favorite Summer read?
I’m sure you get this answer a lot, but B.A. Shapiro’s The Art Forger is a really great book from Algonquin. For the summer, I’ve really enjoyed Scarlet from Marissa Meyer. It’s the second in a series where Meyer is retelling classical fairy tales with a sci-fi twist (and some thankfully strong female characters). The first, Cinder, takes its inspiration from the story of Cinderella and Scarlet borrows from Little Red Riding Hood.
Is there an area of the store that is most popular among your customers?
The young families and children always flock toward the Children’s section. But, in general, we have a lot of customers gravitate over to the non-fiction corner.
Next stop: The Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, Virginia.
*Note: The Lucky Tour posts are not in real time. David and Lucky have returned from their travels with great tales and many, many books. Stay tuned for more road stories…