The competition's stiff in Seattle, but the used bookstore that most feels like what one ought to be—slightly musty and creaky, richly overstuffed, covering all

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Best Uni-Brow Used Bookstore

Magus Books

The competition's stiff in Seattle, but the used bookstore that most feels like what one ought to be—slightly musty and creaky, richly overstuffed, covering all brows but leaning toward high, and promising serendipitous rewards on a browser's every visit—is the U District's Magus. When I say used books, I'm not talking remaindered Danielle Steel, though that's here too; this is the place to come if you're looking for a little Lessing (Gotthold or Doris), a collection of Chopin (Kate or Frederic), or How & Wells' 1912 A Commentary on Herodotus (in two volumes). There are tons of history, philosophy, reference, foreign language—and of those reliable standbys, paperback science fiction and mysteries; above an office door adorned with a homemade collage of Edward Gorey illustrations is the complete Plato—in French—for just $200. Even the window display announces serious bibliophilia: among much else, The Edward Said Reader and a new translation of Proust. Best of all, it's the only local used bookstore I've found that gives more than incidental shelf space to scores and sheet music. You get the impression, since it's so near the University, that the remains of who knows how many deceased faculty members' private libraries reside here. Chris Weimer and Hannah McElroy have owned the store almost five years, and they're preparing to celebrate its 30th anniversary as Magus this fall. Prior to 1978, it was known as the Id; before that, as Puss 'n' Books; before that, the brick edifice, built in the '30s, was a post office. It's not just a bookstore, it's Seattle history.—Gavin Borchert

 
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