Founded in 1933, the store touts its extensive collection of new and used titles (more than 300,000, they say) and claims to be haunted by the ghost of Jack Kerouac, who frequented the store during his final, drunken years in St. Pete.
Well, I didn't run into Jack but I did have a blast poking around the store the other day. Its Florida section is the best I've seen, and its literary criticism, travel and poetry sections are all superb. My time there was thoroughly enjoyable, and I only dropped $1.50 on a small book of travel-themed poetry.
Over the years I've visited countless bookstores, from Austin to Paris to Vancouver. Haslam's now ranks near the top of my list of favorites, a roster that includes The Strand in New York, Chamblin Book Mine in Jacksonville, Edward McKay Used Books in Winston-Salem and Avenue Victor Hugo Books in Boston.
My bookstore obsession is a peculiar addiction I suppose. But at least it's a healthy one. After all, few activities are as meaningful as digging into a good book. It connects us to language and storytelling and ultimately informs and rounds out our perspectives.
As Mark Twain put it, "The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read them."