Love in Savannah

September 15th, 2009

Having read about half of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil before our arrival, I was primed and ready to fall in love with Savannah. And fall I have, though the definitive moment came not on a trolley tour or strolling through one of the magnificent squares (although those were nice). No, my heart was stolen by a bookstore. Quite possibly the best bookstore I’ve ever seen.

I give you E. Shaver, Bookseller. This magnificent establishment nestled just off of Madison Square on Bull Street has been graciously dealing in literature for the past 35 years. It is one of those increasingly rare treasures — an independent bookstore, unaffiliated with (unsullied by?) the Big Bookstore culture that dominates most suburban and urban landscapes. There was no coffee bar, no music section, and no computer kiosks. Just books and the people who love them. Well, and some fun games for literati dorks like me.

The first thing I saw when I walked in the door was a word game called Bananagrams, whimsically displayed on a hanging rack in banana-shaped cloth bags. I was intrigued. As soon I expressed interest, the cheerful lady behind the counter ushered me over to a nearby table where they had the game set up and invited me to have a go. So I pulled up a chair to scope it out (and, about 30 minutes later, bought it for myself).

While sitting contentedly arranging anagrams, I overheard the two saleswomen and a customer debating a matter of biblical content. And in a wonderful moment that belonged in a movie, my husband strolled over and said: “I’m a minister. Is there anything I can do to help?” Oh, my. They were thrilled. The timing was just perfect for, at that very moment, they were in desperate need of someone to define which books were contained in the Apocrypha.

Once we managed to tear ourselves away from biblical discussions (not until after one salesclerk and I swapped “favorite translation” stories for a few minutes, the result of which was her scurrying to her computer to order one I suggested she could not live without), we wandered deeper and deeper into the wonderland. Room after room of books, neatly arranged by topic. They don’t stock many copies of each title but they have a gigantic selection and will order anything you can think of.

Kids books. Architecture. New fiction. Old fiction. Religion and psychology. Savannah books. Antique maps. You name it, it was there. Josh bought a biography of Flannery O’Connor. I got a great “learn your colors” kids book for Miss Mouse (in addition to the Bananagrams).

We were finally forced to drag ourselves away or risk missing the last trolley home. But we may very well go back again tomorrow.

2 responses to “Love in Savannah”

  1. prettyisa says:

    I <3 bananagrams! I was introduced to it as 'speed scrabble' and I think it's so fun! I bought a set for my mom's birthday (which, 4 months later, still hasn't managed to get to Dekalb. soon, I swear!) but I'm afraid to play with her because she positively cleans up in those games.
    Glad to hear Josh came in handy! I hate having those discussions and knowing that someone somewhere knows all of this but they aren't RIGHT THERE where i need them. Googling it is not the same.

  2. Kate says:

    Speed Scrabble — good description. What I like is the flexibility to spell cool fun words because you can rearrange your letters, unlike being locked in to existing words like with Scrabble. It's almost not fast enough with just two — still fun, but I think more players will be better.

    Josh and I both agreed that he would never have pulled the "I'm a pastor" line out in the Burgh. People just aren't as pumped for pastors up north in Yankee land. But down here? Jesus is still king. As evidenced by the amazing array of Baptist churches we've encountered. Yowza.

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