This is my favourite bookstore and bookseller in the world. Bar none.
I used to get to Seattle every six months or so, and whenever I visited I always made it a priority to stop in BLMF and ask its keeper what he’d been reading lately. He possessed an inexhaustible memory, a comfortable lack of snobbery, and impeccable taste. The first book he recommended to me, upon listening gravely to my litany of at-the-moment authors (Barbara Kingsolver, James Clavell, Maeve Binchy, Neil Gaiman, Charles DeLint, Anthony Bourdain) was Tipping the Velvet. He also later landed me with Geek Love, Anno Dracula, half the Aubreyad, and more modern Literature-with-a-capital-L than I could carry home.
The next-to-last time I dropped in, I asked if he had any P. G. Wodehouse.
"I have zero Wodehouse," he said, "and here’s why…"
Turned out that some fiend had taken to creeping in every month or so expressly to inquire of any Wodehouse and, once led to the volumes, to buy it all. ALL. Didn’t matter the condition, the edition, or whether he had another just like it in his possession; the villain bought every single P. G. Wodehouse in stock, every single time.
Was he a fan more comprehensive, more truly fanatical than any other I’d heard of, let alone known? Was he virulently anti-Wodehouse, only purchasing the books to keep their wry poison from infecting the impressionable masses? The world may never know.
I didn’t get any Wodehouse then, and I didn’t really feel the lack. I found plenty of other treasures that trip. But here’s one reason why BLMF and its proprietor are my favourite of their kind: that was two years ago, you see. Maybe three. In all that interim, I never planted foot in that bookshop. Never called. Never wrote. And I’m one face out of hundreds of thousands, dear reader; one reader he saw twice a year for three years, then not again for another three.
But I walked in the shop last Friday. Nodded hello.
"Can I help you find anything?" he asked, lifting his head from the phone.
"No, I’m good," I said.
"Wait—hold on a second." He set the phone down, walked ‘round the towers of books balanced precariously on the desk, on the floor, and atop other, only slightly less precarious towers. He jerked his head conspiratorially toward the far end of the shop, led me carefully to a shelf way in the back, removed a tattered stack of mass market paperbacks and motioned me closer to see what they’d been hiding.
Fifteen pristine Wodehouses: crisp, heavy, and—
“Hardcover,” he said, and waggled his eyebrows.
Reader, I bought them all.