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…
LEXINGTON, Kentucky — For a store that has only been around for five years, the Morris book shop is amazingly invested in the Lexington community. Perhaps it’s how much history they have. You see, the Morris book shop is a new store, but it’s also an old store. The original Morris book shop opened in downtown Lexington in 1937 and was a mainstay in the town until the late 70’s. Over the next thirty years the Morris name lay dormant, evoking nostalgia but lacking a physical form. Enter Wyn Morris. A Lexington native and former bookseller at Joseph-Beth, Wyn knew of the Morris tradition and, when the stars aligned, he jumped at the chance to continue the legacy. Contacting the former owners (no relation) and receiving their blessing, Wyn Morris’s the Morris book shop opened up, giving a Lexington legend new life.
I can’t speak for the old Morris book shop, but the new one is rather incredible. With a stripped down look and some inventive decorations, The Morris book shop has an unique style that I absolutely want to steal. White walls and bold black section signs make the slick greens and bold orange pipes pop in an undeniably attractive fashion. And while someone might be able to duplicate this aesthetic, there is one part of The Morris book shop that seems difficult to replicate. A magnificent painted ceramic horse makes its home in the small Lexington bookshop and Lucky eagerly made his acquaintance. The horse serves as a perfect reading companion — always present, always stunning, but never saying a word. Between the owner, the legacy, the appearance, the selection, and the horse, it’s no mystery why Lexington is in love with the new Morris book shop.
Owner and master of awesomeness, Wyn Morris answered the Algonquin Questionnaire.
When I opened the store I knew that I didn’t want a play on words or a funny book reference, and I was also familiar with the old Morris book shop. Since I had the last name to match, it seemed only fitting to adopt the historic name for our new store.
What is the oddest book on your shelves?
There are one or two books that I’ve ordered specifically because of how odd they are. The best one is probably How to Good-Bye Depression: If You Constrictanus 100 Times a Day. Malarkey? Or Effective Way? by Hiroyuki Nishigaki. It’s definitely a book that was plugged into Google translate, but that subtitle is too bizarre to be ignored.
What is your favorite Algonquin book?
I think the Travis McGee books from John D. MacDonald are perfect books for the summer. They are reissues that were originally published in the 70’s and 80’s, but they’re just as good today. And as a recent read, I’d say Beautiful Ruins from Jess Walter is a winner.
Is there an area of the store that people seem to flock to?
The kids love our Children’s Section. It has these wooden boxes that stack on top of each other to create a jungle gym and kids like to climb into the structure and read inside. And Lexington is very proud of our local authors, so we get a lot of people attracted towards that section.
What is the strangest thing that has happened at The Morris book shop?
We have one customer who has bought the book Sh*t My Dad Says fifteen or twenty times. We assume he gives them out as gifts, but he really loves that title. And this is something odd in a good way, but we actually have a stool in the store that was used in the original Morris book shop. So we’re keeping the history alive in that way.
Next stop: Taylor Books in Charleston, West 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…