Books and Memories

By Matthew Lax

I was lurking on someone’s Facebook page the other day and under “favorite books” it boldly announced, “I HATE BOOKS.” I won’t delve into the innumerable problems with this obscene declaration of ignorance, but I would like to say, broha, you are missing out.

In an era during which reading is no longer cool, the used bookstores’ clientele has dwindled down to a subgroup of adults hell-bent on finding a first edition copy of The White Album, and naive hipsters who mistake Harper Lee for a new line of skinny jeans while lusting after their own copy of The White Album (vinyl only).

Despite these setbacks, Books and Memories, located on the ever-so-quaint James Street, keeps up with its corporate competition. In addition to occupying five storefronts, the shop hosts a massive basement filled with music, movies, books, and other publications. A small café, presumably created to attract the bourgie crowd who still believe J.K. Rowling wrote the first Harry Potter installment on napkins, sits at the store’s threshold amidst shelves of vintage Life magazines, Polaroids, children’s toys, and antique board games.

Beyond the understated charm of the building, Books and Memories is a practical and economically-prudent substitute for Barnes and Noble. The literary connoisseurs of the store actually care about literature and understand the value of used-book-luxury, while their Barnes and Noble counterparts fantasize about Starbucks, dark mahogany, and milking their minimum wage for all its worth.

I had a conversation with the cashier on how Books and Memories lacks the hipness of Sound Garden. “I think it’s the hair,” commented the pony-tailed clerk. “We don’t have cool hair. Everyone who works there has a mohawk or something.” Whatever, I got three books and a DVD for $13. That’s cool enough for me.

Books&MEMories 2600 James Street Syracuse NY 13206

Photos by Max Jackson

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