Grab a book, a coffee or a ukulele. (Maybe one of each.)
Kate and Brendan Heneghan are inviting people to start a new chapter at the new Turning Pages Book Lounge in Ocean View. The couple are selling used books, as well as comic books, music records, ukuleles and art.
In the old wooden shopping center across from Lord Baltimore Elementary School, they wanted to create a warm, open and inviting space that encourages browsing, without the clutter. This summer, they added vibrant turquoise paint, some couches and book shelves to a former T-shirt printing shop.
Customers are already spreading the word about the tiny Route 26 book shop that opened during Memorial Day weekend, where they curled up on the sofa with a $4 novel and bought a tea, coffee or soda.
Reading inside the shop is welcome, but this is no library. People can talk about books, buy snacks, suggest music for the store’s record player or take ukulele lessons.
Turning Pages Book Lounge also sells children’s books, jigsaw puzzles, first-edition novels, literary greeting cards, travel postcards and book-related artwork. In future, the Book Lounge may also host group events, such as book clubs.
It’s hard to find an inexpensive place to hang out, Brendan said. That’s probably why the Book Lounge sees late-night walk-in traffic from the ice cream shop next door.
“If you come here for an hour or two, even if you buy a bunch of books, you’re spending 10 or 20 bucks,” Brendan said. “It’s a place where people can come and hang out. It’s not a bar. There’re aren’t TVs blasting in your face. It’s quiet, but it’s not a library, either. You can say what you feel, and say what you want.”
Shoppers can find their favorite fiction, from the fantastical stories of Rowling and Gaiman, to the romances of Devereux and Steele. They’ll also discover potentially new topics, such as the women spies of the American Civil War. The Heneghans also enjoy recommending titles.
“If you go to a used book store, you’re letting happenstance play its part,” Brendan said.
Even NPR has said traditional bookstores are making a comeback, they said.
“I’m hearing from people that Kindles aren’t cutting it … especially at the beach,” Kate said, recalling a mother who couldn’t read her e-books in peace because her kids kept grabbing at the device to play games. Paperbacks don’t cause as much mayhem in the sand.
“It creates a kind of multigenerational atmosphere as well,” Kate said. “The parents are looking at books for themselves, the teenagers have a place where they can read comics, manga and teen fiction, and [there’s] the kids’ corner. Everybody’s got something to interest them.”
On a rainy day, with Buddy Guy blues playing the background, a large family discovered the Book Lounge, and each person wandered toward their favorite section. The dad exclaimed over jazz record; the daughter purchased “The Simpsons” comics with her allowance; and another daughter asked if she was allowed to read Stephen King yet (“Not that one.”).
Visitors might catch the mellow sounds of a ukulele. The Book Lounge both sells ukuleles and teaches music lessons.
Kate also gives new life to old books. She creates small sculptures on beautiful old novels that aren’t being read anymore. She creates papier-mâché figures that climb the books, or carves windows into the novels.
Besides the book shop, Kate also teaches art, and Brendan runs Yesterday’s Fun toy shop in Bethany Beach.
Reading is a special part of the Heneghans’ own relationship. When Kate was studying abroad in Rome, Brendan visited and brought just the perfect book for her. She knew then that he was something special.
Now, they’re always reading books, both quietly on their own and aloud together, like a two-person book club. Together, they like reading Christopher Moore’s tongue-in-cheek stories, like “You Suck.” Meanwhile, she loves epistolary novels, in which the story is told through a series of letters and correspondence. He tries “not to play favorites with books. I love them all!”
The shop is open daily, from noon to 10 p.m. Hours may change in winter.
Turning Pages Book Lounge is located at 119 Atlantic Avenue, Ocean View. For more information, contact (302) 402-3113 or turningpagesbooklounge.com.