In case you haven’t noticed, I have a major soft spot for all things nostalgic. Old-school bowling alleys, old-fashioned ice cream shops, classic mini golf… I love anything that feels old and weather worn (perhaps because I am becoming old and weather worn).
This certainly applies to books. Whether it’s the Milford Mystery Library or the brand-new-yet-totally-retro Household Books, I could happily spend hours browsing, perusing, reading, and, when the urge strikes, purchasing such physical media. I’m certainly a big proponent of buying used and utilizing Cincinnati’s robust public library system, but there’s something unabashedly indulgent and wholly enjoyable about going into a real, brick-and-mortar bookstore to purchase one (or, ahem, a stack of) brand-new, crisp and unsullied, hot-off-the-press books.
All of this is to say that I’m still riding the high of a recent trip to The Bookshelf, an impossibly charming little store akin to Meg Ryan’s Shop Around the Corner—but so much better, for so many reasons.
If you’ve never heard of The Bookshelf, you’re not alone. While this local bookshop has been chugging away for almost 50 years (!), its location within the bustling business district of downtown Madeira is easy to miss. Obfuscated by both its street-level neighbors and a sprawling Kroger parking lot, The Bookshelf is a true hidden gem—a tucked away, cozy little treasure that’s the Platonic Ideal of cozy little bookstores.
Step inside and you’ll be warmly welcomed by a small-but-mighty team of booksellers. On the day we visited, co-owner Jacque Gentile was working the till. She offered assistance but wasn’t pushy, letting my book-loving tween and his mom wander the colorful shelves of books, inspecting spines and reading synopses.
Julian came in with a very specific reading list; he’s an avid reader and has pretty much read everything. Yet somehow, he managed to find every single title he wanted on the tightly packed, yet very organized, bookshelves.
I, on the other hand, welcomed assistance. Jacque is a lifelong booklover who knows her stuff, and was happy to provide suggestions and also listen to me prattle on about my 8 year old, a budding writer with his own comic book series inspired by Dave Pilkey’s offbeat sense of humor. She recommended a series neither Julian nor I had heard about, one created by the author when he was just 15 years old. It was exactly what I was looking for and I know it will fuel Harvey’s creative spirit as he continues his “Kid Croc” series.
Is it less expensive to purchase books online or from a big-box retailer? Probably. Will you get this kind of customer service? Absolutely not.
As our kids grow up in a world inundated with screens and virtual everything, it’s more important than ever to support these brick-and-mortar bookstores; small business stalwarts on a mission to keep the printed world alive.
The Bookshelf, 7754 Camargo Rd., Madeira, (513) 271-9140