Books and Melodies owner Jon Goode sometimes thinks his bookstore could be a scene for a movie and with good reason–the store attracts dynamic customers, “Characters,” says Goode, who wears a maroon beanie atop a ring of black scruffy hair. He stands in front of the wide, bay windows where sunlight pours in and brightens the dusty 45s lining the burnt-orange walls. Used books sit on a repurposed green pool table. Bits of ephemera—a doodled high school pamphlet, a photo of two kids and their teethy smiles, a handwritten note for a friend—circle the hand-drawn “new arrivals” sign. Books and Melodies specializes in used books, records, VHS tapes, DVDs, old magazines, and ephemera. “Specializes” could be a strong word; much of the content and decorations seem like they wandered into the shop — just like the customers walking in from the Eastwood neighborhood.
According to Goode, the real stories come from the customers. “Everyone walking around has their own story, but for some reason the craziest, strangest stories come in here,” he says quietly as a white-haired, think-boned gentleman asks me if he can be interviewed. He wandered to the back of the store to join another old rocker-type to look through the crates of used records.
Goode interrupts our conversation to tend to more customers. He chats to a middle-aged woman buying three books. He puts on Neil Young’s Harvest Moon. Both sides of Goode’s spectrum of customers appreciate the Neil Young music playing in the background: young hipsters discovering it for the first time, and older bookish types reminiscing about yesterday. The shop boasts about 20,000 records that range from ‘90s pop sensations to rock classics. Once, a signed Miles Davis album came through the shop. “I don’t even think the person knew it was signed,” says Goode of the customer who sold it to the shop. Many boxes of dusty records sit in the brightly lit front room or in the dingy basement. Unexpected finds lurk in the rows, such as “The Futurist’s Cookbook,” Italian poet Filippo Tommaso Marinetti’s 1932 ironic manifesto on revolutionizing culture through food.
Where to go: 2600 James St., Syracuse
What to drink here: Chai tea latte
Why: To lose yourself in the ephemera, records, and books borrowed from another era.