Welcome to Wednesday on She Is Too Fond of Books! We’ve got a fun Spotlight on Bookstores post that will get you through the mid-week doldrums. Here, author Heather Huffman shares her story of Hammonds Books in St. Louis, Missouri … home to used, rare, collectible, and out-of-print books, accented with beautiful chandeliers and classical music playing in the background.
Heather Huffman writes romantic suspense with strong female leads who refuse to lose hope, and sees her books as a way to not only entertain, but to raise awareness of the realities of modern day slavery. She shares the passion of her resilient heroines to make a difference, and so dedicates both her time and a portion of her book royalties to organizations that fight against human trafficking.
Heather was born and spent her early childhood in Florida, but now calls the beautiful state of Missouri home. Her greatest joy, aside from writing, is to hit the road with her three boys for adventures unknown. She is the author of Throwaway, Ties that Bind, Jailbird, Suddenly a Spy and Ring of Fire. You can find out more about her writing and charitable work on www.heatherhuffman.net.
Cherokee Street in South St. Louis delivers original and unique experiences to visitors, lined with unconventional businesses that radiate a creative vibe as you walk down the street. I’ve always had a special appreciation for this little-known St. Louis treasure and have even featured it as a setting in two of my novels. One shop in particular, however, has truly won my heart as both a novelist and avid reader - Hammonds Books.
When I first entered Hammonds, my initial impression was that I couldn’t afford to be there. The first book I picked up reinforced that feeling. It was The Tempest of the Heart by Mary Agatha Gray, and it was $75. But it was also from 1911, and I was captivated from the first page.
Despite my initial sticker shock, there was something about the floor-to-ceiling shelves upon shelves of books that drew me in. Even the stairs were lined with books. Any wall space not covered with literature was adorned with eclectic and charming prints. Pavarotti piped through the speakers. A sign offered coffee, but I couldn’t fathom fettering my hands with anything other than books.
Hammonds Books is an homage to the written word, and I soon found myself so lost in books that I forgot I couldn’t afford to be there. While there were treasures from every decade waiting to be explored, I found I only had eyes for the oldest of tomes, written when language was still lyrical, when words were something to be rolled leisurely off the tongue, not spit out in haste. Happily, I also found books I could afford – one treasure from the 1800s and one from 1905!
More than my purchase of that day, it became apparent I’d found a new guilty pleasure, a refuge. There was no slavery to fight in that little store, only words to immerse myself in. It was the kind of place that made me wish I had a home with its own library. The kind of library that would have a corner to tuck myself away in and lots of old books to line the shelves. Until I have that fantasy home, I will content myself to roam the aisles of Hammonds Books and dream.
Thank you for sharing your guilty pleasure, Heather! I believe you have plenty of company in that favorite pastime
Readers, I want to share one more fun fact about Heather. Take a look at that book cover for Jailbird at the top of the page; now read this tidbit, from her website: “Not only did I take the picture for the Jailbird cover, but I used my own feet when we couldn’t coordinate schedules with the photographer and the intended model. I think my neighbors were questioning my sanity, watching me snap pictures of my feet after dragging them through the mud to dirty them up!” Who ever said being a published author was all glamour!?