The Bookery earned the title of one of “44 Great American Bookstores Every Book Lover Must Visit” from BuzzFeed in 2015. The hand-painted signs, hand-written record books, and hand-picked selections found at this bookstore stand in stark contrast to the fast-paced viral hub that lauds its accomplishments. Time in this place — as suggested by “The Bookery” written in a New York Times masthead-esque gothic script on the front window — slows down. Opened in 1975, The Bookery boasts card catalogs and quiet, screen-free contemplation. And so does Jack Goldman, its owner.
Goldman speaks fondly of times when young professors would move to the college town and start to build their personal libraries. Now a smile forms when he sees young people pause and look up from the white glow of a phone to page through a book. Delicately crafted wooden bookshelves hold a range of used and rare books. A gold-plated, two-foot diameter Holy Bible sits under a glass box in the center of one room. A slim version of Aesop’s Fables hides between fatter, cloth-bound books, ensconcing the rare handiwork of an artist who hand-makes the entire book, from the paper to setting the type.
The lure of stories and interesting characters (inside and outside of books) kept Goldman invested in owning and operating the store for nearly half a century now. Storytelling comes naturally to Goldman. After dropping out from a Cornell graduate program to protest Vietnam, he began writing for a local activist paper. Beyond his storytelling ability, Goldman possesses a profound ability to listen, which can warp seconds to minutes, minutes to hours.
Where to go: Dewitt Mall, 215 N Cayuga St., Ithaca
What to drink: English breakfast tea or Earl Grey
Why: To be pulled into a world of handpainted signs, carefully chosen used books, and stories of Vietnam protests