Friday, June 27, 2014

The Haunted Bookshop - Iowa City, IA

The Haunted Bookshop, Iowa City, IA

Do not judge a book by its cover and do not judge an independent bookstore by its name.  From the outside, this place doesn't look like much.  And the name of the place is not really fitting since the the owner, Nialle (pronounced Neal), is unaware of any unusual paranormal activity.  Nothing spooky here.  If you're a ghost hunter, cross this place off the list.  If you're a bookstore lover looking for something to pick up, move this place to the top of the list.

The Haunted Bookshop is housed in a 19th century building that is on the historic register, The Wentz House.  It seems to be a typical house from that time period with a main level with multiple rooms and a straight staircase inside the front door to the second level with multiple rooms upstairs.  This indie is kind of a maze of rooms and books, each room packed with books on shelves, floor to ceiling.  The floors creak, many of the rooms have comfortable chairs to sit in, there are two cats, there is a piano, and the place oozes history.  Could anything be more indie?  The lifeblood of this indie is used books and they have a very active book buy-back program.  You can certainly find recent publications by current authors but you can also find rare, out-of-print, and collectables.  In addition to all these books they also have a small collection of greeting cards, a great children's room with various games, puzzles, small stuffed animals, and miscellaneous.  No cafe here on site but there are several independently owned restaurants and cafes within easy walking distance (one block or less) of The Haunted Bookshop.

It is always great visiting these indies and talking with the owners and staff.  There are so many books here that Nialle and Ali have to be extremely organized and efficient to make things run so well.  All the more impressive when you consider that they moved from a previous location and have been here less than a year.  I get the feeling that this is well supported by the local population.  And they have what I've come to expect as the norm in an indie, a cat.  This place has two.  When I first started on this journey, it would be unique for me to see a cat in an indie.  I've lost track of how many I've seen so when I go into place and they don't have one, I put the antihistamine back in the bag and breathe a sigh of relief!

Many of you know about Prairie Lights in Iowa City.  When you visit here (not IF), you now have another indie to check out.  Both of them are great.  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir.

CURRENTLY READING:  The Orphan Master's Son, Adam Johnson.  Almost done.  How the main character endures in North Korea is unbelievable.  Makes one thankful to be in a free country.  3 stars.

RECENTLY FINISHED:  Killing Floor, Lee Child.  Apples (this is a person) said I needed to read a Jack Reacher novel.  This was it.  Decent, 4 stars.

RECENTLY PURCHASED:  A Good Scent From A Strange Mountain, Robert Olen Butler.  Parsecs To Go, Poems Of Protest, Chuck Miller.  I'm not much of a poetry person but this was highly recommended.  It looks very good and if the NYC literary world find out about this one, it will be huge.  You heard it here first.

Nothing scary about this place!  Go in and buy a book!

One of several rooms on the main floor.  

Any indie can have a cat, but how about one with a piano you can play?!!  Check out the posted note on the piano...

Shouldn't these rules be posted on all public pianos??!!  Can we make this a law??!!  

Lots of chairs to sit in and test drive a book, especially ones like this upstairs.  

The owner, Nialle, with one of the resident cats.  

Two great indie people!  Nialle (L) with cat (real), and Ali (R) with ferret (not real but sure looks it!).

Yours truly with the owner of The Haunted Bookshop, Nialle.  


  1. I think you should include the cat count in all of your indie posts!

  2. HA! Who knew there would be so many?!! I use to try and remember their names but now there are too many! Thanks for reading!

  3. One of the best! I loved Haunted Bookshop back in the day when I lived in Iowa City.

  4. If you haven't seen their new location and you get back to IC make sure you check it out. Thanks for reading!