Books and More in Asheville, North Carolina

For us, going to Asheville, NC was all about books.  And let me assure you, they have terrific book stores stocked with amazing books.  But HOLY COW, what a fun city!!

One of the many fun and fine restaurants in Asheville.  I think this is a Japanese Maple??

One of the many fun and fine restaurants in Asheville. I think that is a Japanese Maple!

Sometimes referred to as “The Paris of the South,” this city is brimming with music, books, art and fine southern food and drink.    It is populated with welcoming, friendly citizens who are proud of their city.

Some of the fine people we met during our stay in Asheville…

Me and Kim Justus, an Asheville native

Me and Kim Justus, an Asheville native. She is a Realtor for Coldwell Banker.

We met this fun couple (below) at dinner.  They told us that before they moved to Asheville, they used to travel a lot.  Now they don’t leave town much, because they are afraid they’ll miss something!

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Great bookstores, cool restaurants, bars, fun-buses, galleries, and music venues, chocolate shops, breweries, ghost tours, and food tours.  The fun never stops in this giddy, pretty city.

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The Amazing Pubcycle. YES, those are bicycle seats. a wicked-cool 13-person pedal powered (motor assisted) vehicle. Imagine riding your bike (sideways), hanging out at your favorite pub (on wheels), and touring the city!

A glimpse of the crazy purple LAZOOM bus. Featuring bands & beer or comedy tours.

A glimpse of the crazy purple LAZOOM bus.
Featuring bands & beer or comedy tours.

But let’s start at the beginning.  Our first stop was at The Captain’s Book Shelf, located at 31 Page Avenue in downtown Asheville.  I was immediately impressed with the angle parking on this street (I love angle parking!).  Bring lots of coins, though…there are parking meters, and you’ll want to hang out for a long time.

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The Captain's Bookshelf, Asheville, NC

The Captain’s Bookshelf, Asheville, NC

In existence for 39 years, The Captain’s Bookshelf is an ABAA shop owned by Chan Gordon and his wife Meigan.   We have purchased from them before at book fairs.

This was our first visit to their store.  This shop is a  real treasure trove.  We were in book lover’s heaven as we happily spent hours browsing and buying here.

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Chan Gordon at his desk (probably tallying up our bill!)

Chan Gordon at his desk (probably tallying up our bill!)

Stock include top quality literature high points, lovely decorated bindings, as well as obscure older titles not easily found.

Here is a sampling of fine books we purchased from this store:

In The Days of the Comet, by H. G. Wells (First U.S. Edition, October, 1906)

In The Days of the Comet, by H. G. Wells (First U.S. Edition, October, 1906)

Green Fancy, by George Barr McCutcheon (1st Edition, Dodd Mead, 1917, SIGNED by author)

Green Fancy, by George Barr McCutcheon (1st Edition, Dodd Mead, 1917, SIGNED by author)

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Blue-Grass and Rhododendron, by John Fox. Jr.  (Scribner, 1901 First Edition) signed binding - Margaret Armstrong

Blue-Grass and Rhododendron, by John Fox. Jr. (Scribner, 1901 First Edition) signed binding – Margaret Armstrong023307_2

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Don Fernando, by W. Somerset Maugham. (William Heinemann, London, 1935, First Edition)

From the Housetops, by George Barr McCutcheon.  (Dodd Mead, 1916, 1st Edition - SIGNED by author).  Decorative Designer monogram on cover.

From the Housetops, by George Barr McCutcheon. (Dodd Mead, 1916, 1st Edition – SIGNED by author). Decorative Designer monogram on cover.    SOLD

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Any direction we looked there were gorgeous collectible quality books here.

Definitely worth a trip for any serious book collector.

Our second stop was about a block away at Battery Park Book Exchange & Champagne Bar, in the heart of Asheville at 1 Page Avenue.

Battery Park Book Exchange & Champagne Bar, Asheville, NC

Battery Park Book Exchange & Champagne Bar, Asheville, NC

This enchanting store houses over 22,000 books,  successfully blending two of life’s greatest pleasures…books and wine.  Enter and shop for books in what feels like a great, multi-storied living room, with a comfortable bar offering wine and mimosas, as well as coffee and locally made pastries.

Here we are outside the Battery Park Book Exchange

Here we are outside the Battery Park Book Exchange

Let’s go inside…

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Kyle, Manager at the Book Exchange

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Kerstine, in her dream job

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Mmmmm…blood orange mimosas!

Me, drinking a blood orange mimosa

Me, drinking a blood orange mimosa

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Mr. Moose watches over all

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20150430_151210_resized Explore an amazing labyrinth of interesting books and cozy zones

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Hours of fun…and we turned up some great books here too!

Here are just a couple of them…

Tomorrow Will Be Better, by Betty Smith (Heinemann, 1949, 1st British Edition) Inscribed and signed by author

Tomorrow Will Be Better, by Betty Smith (Heinemann, 1949, 1st British Edition) Inscribed and signed by author

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A rare stated First Printing of Bambi, by Felix Saalten, illustrated by Kurt Wiese. (Simon & Schuster, 1928)

A rare stated First Printing of Bambi, by Felix Saalten, illustrated by Kurt Wiese. (Simon & Schuster, 1928)023280_4

 

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We said goodbye to the Book Exchange…

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and HELLO to dinner at a great little restaurant called Seven Sows Bourbon & Larder (how could we resist that??).  Wonderful food, flights marvelous bourbon.

Seven Sows Bourbon & Larder, 77 Biltmore Avenue, Asheville, NC

Seven Sows Bourbon & Larder, 77 Biltmore Avenue, Asheville, NC

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Somebody looks happy…

20150430_200059_resizedThe food was marvelous.  Hot buttermilk hushpuppies cooked to perfection, Eli’s “Blue Ribbon” Fish Sauce Wings, juicy pork chops.  Their menu here is ever-changing, with all menu items sourced seasonally and locally.  Highly recommended.

Eli's "Blue Ribbon" Fish Sauce Wings

Eli’s “Blue Ribbon” Fish Sauce Wings

I'm not a pork chop fan, but Ron ordered this one and it's the best thing I've ever tasted!

I’m not a pork chop fan, but Ron ordered this one and it was the best thing I’ve ever tasted!

After dinner, we walked around the town a bit, taking in the sights.  There is plenty to do in Asheville!

Outdoor bar at The Wicked Weed

Outdoor bar at The Wicked Weed

Live music is a significant element of the tourist-based economy in Asheville, with numerous nightclubs and performance venues.  The City has a strong tradition of street performance and outdoor music and music festivals.

Musical line-up at The Orange Peel Social Aid & Pleasure Club

Musical line-up at The Orange Peel Social Aid & Pleasure Club

A dessert bus!!

A dessert bus!!

There is so much to do in this City, I do believe you would have to live here to get to around to it all!

Here are a couple more book stores we did not make it to:

Downtown Books and News, 67 N. Lexington Ave. – A used book store that never closes (they are even open on holidays).  They have stayed open every day for 24 years!

Malaprops, 55 Haywood St. – a large general book store, stocking new books and regional writers.  Co-owners Emoke B’Racz and Linda Barrett Knopp celebrated their 30th anniversary in 2012.

The Thomas Wolfe House is also located in downtown Asheville, at 52 Market Street.  The famous American author Thomas Wolfe lived in the home during his boyhood, and it was the setting for his first novel, Look Homeward, Angel.

The Biltmore Estate, America’s largest and most magnificent home, is here in all it’s gilded age glory. The 8000-acre beautiful and grand estate built by George Vanderbilt in 1895 is a major tourist attraction.

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Asheville is located in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains at the confluence of the Swannanoa River and the French Broad River.  The population was 83,393 according to the 2010 U.S. Census, with a population of 424,848 in the four-county Asheville metropolitan area.  It is home to University of North Carolina at Asheville and Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College, with eight other colleges and universities in the surrounding area.

Next stop will be Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania!

 

 

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8 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I visited The Captain’s Bookshelf two decades ago and it was a wonderland.

    >

    • Alan,
      It is an excellent book store, isn’t it?
      Thanks for your comment.
      Cathy

  2. Ashville NC sounds like my kind of town. Maybe I should sell my Sunnyvale rancher and buy a huge spacious barn there to hold all my books? The I could hang a sign out and sell them all. Best bookstores I ever saw back East in 1977 were old barns on some back road. They had never head of Jack London or Gertrude Atherton so those authors were dirt cheap. $4 bought Atherton’s Splendid Idle ’40’s. Wish I still had it as it had a cover by C-Boxed-X Lucky for me, the only book you found that I really wanted was one I had already!!

    Fav shop was The Captain’s Bookshelf. That man works at it, everything so neat and tidy. Well organized. Ship-shape so to speak!

    ~(:-))

    ps, you folks ever worry about gaining wt. on these soirees?

    • Hi John,
      Hahaha — we don’t gain weight because we mostly never eat on these trips until suppertime!! Coffee in the morning, get to the first open book store or drive, drive, drive to the target town…hunt for books until the stores close and then off to find some grub.
      Book stores in barns are getting scarcer than hen’s teeth, even here in the east, but there are a few. Berry Hill Books comes to mind, in Deansboro, NY. Chickens in the front yard. He has a barnful of older books with an ever-changing inventory (several floors) and they are VERY reasonable. But you really have to hunt and peck to find books in collectible condition. Always fun, though. There used to be so much more of that here — like twenty years ago!!
      – Cathy

  3. But you didn’t let good old Biblio know you were going to be in our town? Oh, well…just let us know next time and we’ll stand you a round at your choice of breweries. 🙂

    • I am so SORRY, and full of regret that we didn’t stop and visit you all! We promise we will be back, and we will contact you for sure. You are our favorite bookseller’s site, and I think you will be the one that stands the test of time, as you obviously care about books and booksellers, buyers, and people in general. I’ve always admired your business model and charitable work.
      And now I am really ENVIOUS that you are located in Asheville. It tops my list of favorite cities in the U.S.A. — fun, friendly, beautiful BOOK HEAVEN.
      We’ll definitely tip a brew with you next time!
      Kindest Regards,
      Cathy and Ron
      Old Scrolls Book Shop

      • Thank you for your kind words! And it might be better that you didn’t stop by – we’re actually about to move offices and so would be embarrassed for anyone to see our space right now!

        We love our little town, and look forward to seeing you both the next time you visit.

        Best!
        Amber (and the rest of the crew)

      • Thanks Amber and crew! We’ll catch you at the new office next time we head south!
        Ron & Cathy


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