A Lifetime in Books – Sandy’s List – Daedalus’s Bookseller

I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.  Jorge Luis Borges

When I travel I visit local bookstores, often the highlight of a trip.  Footnotes from the World’s Greatest Bookstores is a collection of tales and colorful illustrations by writer and cartoonist Bob Eckstein. I recognized places I’d visited in New York, Argentina, London, and New Orleans.

I came across Sandy McAdams and remembered going to his shop after seeing the University of Virginia and Monticello.  We had an engaging chat about the Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings controversy. We discussed science fiction and Edward Gorey, and my family explored his labyrinthine store filled with tucked away gems.  He motors around in his wheelchair and the layout is wired so deeply in his brain he could explain in detail every shelf and corner by genre. When I read that he built the shelves of all three floors, did the masonry, and stocked over 100,000 titles, this made sense.

Daedalus Used Book Shop, 121-4th St. N.E., Charlottesville, VA 22902

Sandy left his shop on Long Island and bought the building in Charlottesville in the 70s. “He never looked back.”  We discussed books and I asked about his favorite titles, now and over the years.  He had a list he kept, something I imagine he put together from a lifetime of reading, from a career as a bookseller, of loving books, of daily exposure to buyers and sellers, seniors, students and collectors.  He didn’t have a copy of his list, so he had me address an envelope to myself.

 

In Greek mythology Daedalus created the famous labyrinth where the minotaur was kept and made the wings used by Icarus to fly.

 

Three floors of turns and nooks and shelves and corners, a building worthy of Homer’s Daedalus, a shop aptly named. (Excerpts above from Footnotes From the World’s Greatest Bookstores, Eckstein 2016)

Sure to his word, Sandy’s letter arrived the next week, four typed pages with a hand written note, 10 words in capitals except for his name, a dying art practiced by a man who lives. I read six titles and more authors, but here were books I’d never even heard of. The shop is not online, though they have a Facebook Page with this note.

Dear friends,

We are merely dipping our little toe into this century. Please do not use this Facebook account as a means to try to sell us books, check our stock, or communicate with us in any meaningful way. Do you think we’ve got a computer in here? Have you been here before?

Should you have any questions, give us a call, or better yet, stop by. (434) 293-7595

 

Here’s Sandy’s list for all to enjoy, because I don’t think he’ll be posting this online anytime soon.

 

BOOKS THAT SHOULD NOT BE FORGOTTEN.

ENJOY,

Sandy

AT DAEDALUS

 

** The only way to visit is to go yourself. Here’s the address: Daedalus Used Book Shop, 121 Fourth Street N.E., Charlottesville, Virginia, 22902

 

Mar 2, 2017

1 Comment

  1. Jill Sawyer

    What a treasure of a store. My son and daughter-in-law gave me Footnotes from the World’s Greatest Bookstores for Christmas. Reading this book makes you feel so good.
    Not only am I delighted to see your appreciation for it, I am now in possession of Sandy’s list of “Books that Should Not Be Forgotten”. All because you want to share the enjoyment. Many thanks, Jill Sawyer

    Reply

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About the Author

Mylinh Shattan is a writer who has lived on three continents, served in the Army, worked in corporate America, and taught in college. She loves adventures, in the world and in the mind. Literature is relevant and learning is a lifelong pursuit, so you might as well have a bit of fun along the way.

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