The Haunted Bookshop
by Christopher Morley
Some time ago (at least three-plus years ago), my friend Christopher's Great Aunt Helen passed away. His mother was going to donate her books to Goodwill, but allowed us to pick over them first. Pretty much at random, I grabbed Brander Matthews's An Introduction to the Study of American Literature (1896) and Christopher Morley's Parnassus On Wheels (1917)-- original printings both and the two oldest books in my collection. I never read the former, but the latter (to both my surprise and delight) turned out to be a charming story about what a wonderful thing books were, a sentiment I can whole-heartedly agree with. I read it in June 2004 and began searching for the sequel, The Haunted Bookshop, shortly thereafter.
I'm not sure when I finally turned up a 2004 reprinting, but I finally got around to reading it this month. It was fun, with a number of good lines, including one that sums up my life, I think: "It saddens me to think that I shall have to die with thousands of books unread that would have given me noble and unblemished happiness." The plot takes half the book to show up, but when it does, you rather wish it would have stayed away, because it's pretty far-fetched (it ends with the titular bookshop exploding!) and it is far more entertaining to read about the gripping ethical dilemmas faced by sellers of secondhand books.