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…
CHARLESTON, West Virginia — “Charleston” has always meant the city in South Carolina to me. It is a beautiful town, so on my drive across the West Virginian border I was hoping that the Charleston name would carry magic over state borders. However, Charleston, West Virginia, doesn’t need any of that South Carolina magic. It has established its own identity, supporting the arts and an impressive set of local stores in its small but well-manicured downtown area. Charleston is a budding haven for the creative and innovative, so don’t be surprised if you start hearing more and more about West Virginia’s Charleston.
A mainstay in Charleston’s growing arts scene is Taylor Books, Charleston’s only independent bookstore, centrally located in the heart of Capitol Street. While being the undeniable best spot for books, Taylor Books wouldn’t be satisfied unless it catered to each and every one of its artistic minded customers. As it stands now, there are four sections of Taylor Books, each with a specific purpose. The main entrance area houses most of the books, a solid selection if there ever was one. Openings to the right lead to a café stocked full of the food and drink you need to fuel your all-night study session, bolster your spirits as you write the Great American Novel or simply please your taste buds as you catch up with old friends. Go through the left opening instead and you’ll find yourself in the Annex Gallery, featuring art and craft from some of the area’s up-and-coming artists and acting as the perfect host for the community’s monthly Art Walk. The final gem rests underground in the Annex studios where Taylor Books holds craft classes of all types (even wheel throwing). The perfect combination for an ever growing population of artists and art lovers, Taylor Books is helping Charleston, West Virginia, make a name for itself.
Bookseller Casey gave me the tour and answered the Algonquin Questionnaire.
What was in this location before Taylor Books?
What is the oddest book on the shelves?
What is the oddest non-book item at Taylor Books?
We have an odd little devil doll around the store. He’s hard to track down because customers like to take him and put him in front of books that they particularly dislike, so he moves throughout the store.
What is your favorite Algonquin book and your favorite summer read?
I’m terrible at remembering which publisher came out with which book, but I do know Daniel Wallace’s Big Fish was originally from Algonquin, and I liked that one a lot. I’m still a student, so I get a lot more free time in the summer and I like to read the big books like Anna Karenina and War and Peace.
Well, we have a Clay Studio in the back that leads downstairs where Chris works with ceramics and teaches some of our arts classes.
Is there an area of the store that people are most attracted to?
I’d say it really depends on the day. On a normal day the bookstore brings in the most people. But at night we sometimes host music in the café which is usually a big hit. And then once a month during our community Art Walk everybody comes through to take a look at the gallery.
Next stop: Politics and Prose in Washington D.C.
*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…