There are two places one should feel safe getting lost in: one is, of course, thought, and the other is a bookstore. Both are places of the mind and both are not so easy to find let alone get lost in these days. Cheever Books (3613 Broadway) has been helping thoughtful people safely get lost in both states for 27 years.
Principal buyer John Peace, who has been working with proprietor CeCe Cheever for 26 of those years, is understated about their inventory. "We carry a lot of mystery."
A lot of mystery indeed. Walk into Cheever Books and you will see war books, cookbooks, comic books, erotica, necromantic guides, as well as a selection of leather bound tomes that that Anchorman character Ron Burgundy might brag about to you, gentle reader, before asking you out on a date.
If you rub your eyes a bit (for the desired sepia effect) upon entering the shop, it looks like you just walked right into a Gertrude Stein-like salon. On any given day of book browsing you will find SS regalia behind glass, too-new used copies of Bruno Estañol's philosophical asides, crystal manuals, a solid architecture section, and enough sci-fi to make Dr. Who go "Wha?"
Cheever Books is a place to sit and read, and not feel pressured. But its rooms of stacks pose a challenge to the most demanding bibliophile. Just when you thought you'd read every Pinter play, or when you never thought you'd ever come across a hardback copy of Barbarella comics, you'll find yourself humbled by the host of titles.
Down the road from Cheever's you'll find an outpost of Half Price Books (3207 Broadway). Sure, it's a chain with a prominent assortment of best-sellers, but Current readers named it "Best Of" earlier this year, the staff is friendly, and the buyers are pros. That rumor that they purchase all books offered? True (we tested it). And though you may not get rich enough to buy toys for everyone this season by selling your read volumes, Half Price is a great place to shop: their selling prices are low, too.
Sited next door to Half Price is Antiquarian Book Mart (3127 Broadway), a soulmate to Cheever Books. With rooms of chaotic shelving holding alt-comics to poetry, ABM specializes in non-fiction, with strong Texana, Western history, and military history holdings. The books are piled from floor to ceiling, but don't be daunted. The owner is more than helpful in locating a title, and if they don't have it, will find it for you. Like many used book sellers these days, much of his trade is done online, so he's research-savvy.
Of course, sometimes you want your bookstore experience to be more like a flea market. For that, I'd recommend an actual flea market: pay the two bucks to park at Bussey's Flea Market (18738 I-35 N as you near Schertz) and you can pick — out of a cardboard box — a trade edition of Neitzshe's The Will to Power for like fifty cents, not to mention enjoy the possibility of purchasing stadium-grade nachos as you bend and browse.
And here is a special note to all those thinking of unloading a sack of Judith Krantz paperbacks for three bucks of store credit: The next time you feel that urge, see how close you are to Nine Lives Books (4907 Northwest Loop 410). With movies, music, and all manner of fanboy paraphernalia, Nine Lives is SA's premier alternative to the experience of expecting all the amenities of a mini-mall while conscientiously supporting your local lit scene.