Visiting The Book Loft in Columbus: Where is human nature so weak as in the bookstore?

Books. I love ’em. If you’ve been following my Project 366 (A Year in Books) you know that I am not picky about where I buy them. Although I play no favourites, there is one bookstore I could happily spend the rest of my life in: The Book Loft in Columbus. It is my paradise, my succor. My idea of the happiest place on earth. Time stops in its narrow aisles and cramped corners.

The Book Loft banner

The Book Loft banner

The Book Loft is a store that you can feel good about: it’s a local institution set in a series of preserved 19th century buildings AND it is one of the biggest independent bookstores in the country.

A lit tree in the courtyard

A lit tree in the courtyard

The courtyard is full of colourful flowers, red awnings, plentiful benches and lit trees. It offers a warm welcome from the moment you step foot on the old brick walkway.

32 Rooms of Bargain Books

32 Rooms of Bargain Books

Every book in the store is discounted, even new releases. They also offer posters, DVDs, T-shirts and “the largest selection of JIGSAW PUZZLES in the Midwest”.

The Book Loft store directory

The Book Loft store directory-image courtesy of The Book Loft.

There is a store directory available for the faint of heart. Even though I still get lost, I have never consulted it; what a way to ruin the fun! Anyone unwilling to meander and dawdle their way through the stacks and shelves is not welcome to join me on the adventure. It’s a tactile, aromatic, extended and heart-throbbing experience: a treasure hunt of epic proportions, with a different payoff every time.

I’ve never counted the ways and places to get lost in The Book Loft; there must be dozens. On stairwells and in nooks and under tables; around corners and on chairs and in slender aisles. It cannot be easy for tall people (like my husband) to navigate certain areas, especially the stairs (come anyway, it is worth any neck crick you may suffer). For a little bit like me, it’s almost like a playhouse to a child: everything is just a step larger than my size, which is comforting. Like a house made of books.

Parting is the only bad part of a trip to The Book Loft

Parting is the only bad part of a trip to The Book Loft

Signs like this are common in the historic German Village neighborhood.

Is this what going overboard looks like?

Is this what going overboard looks like?

I think I went too far. I bought ten books. Actually, my husband swooped in at the last second and bought them for me. What can I say, he loves me! When we got back to my mom’s, I emptied the bags on her bed. I was so shaky in my excitement that I took this awful and fuzzy photo. In case you are curious, I bought:

  • To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
  • Young Romantics The Tangled Lives of English Poetry’s Greatest Generation by Daisy Hay
  • The Death of Ivan Ilyich and Other Stories by Leo Tolstoy
  • Emily Bronte The British Library Writers’ Lives by Robert Barnard
  • Truman Capote by George Plimpton
  • The Selected Letters of Allen Ginsberg and Gary Snyder Edited by Bill Morgan
  • Bright Young People The Lost Generation of London’s Jazz Age by D.J. Taylor
  • Bryson’s Dictionary for Writers and Editors by Bill Bryson
  • Cassandra and Jane A Jane Austen Novel by Jill Pitkeathley
  • A Vindication of the Rights of Woman by Mary Wollstonecraft


This is what happens whenever I enter the enchanted world of The Book Loft, I swear. Everything takes on a hypnotic quality.

“Where is human nature so weak as in the bookstore?”-Henry Ward Beecher

INFORMATION: The Book Loft 631 South Third Street-Columbus, Ohio 43206. 614.464.1774. They are open until 11PM every day of the week. If you get a hankering for a book hunting expedition at 10PM on a Sunday, you are in luck.



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