Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Normal's Books and Records

Normal's Books and Records
Baltimore, MD

I began regularly patronizing Normal's Books and Records soon after it opened in 1990 on 31st Street in Baltimore's Waverly neighborhood, and stopped only when I moved to Iowa in 2010. 

So it was after an 8 year absence when, a couple of Saturdays ago, I walked into Normals. Aside from a new coat of paint, not much had changed since the early 90s. 

It was swelteringly hot out (temps peaked in the low 90s that day) and just as hot in the store........... just like the old days ! Sweat dripped from my face as I toured the cramped aisles and crouched to examine the books lined up on the lower shelves.

I came away with some worthy finds (pictured below). Normal's is not a very large store, so you need to step inside with the idea not of trying to get some sought-after item, but rather, taking advantage of whatever quirky selections are on the shelves at the moment.

The sci-fi and horror sections are rather small, but there usually are some rare items in stock that you likely would have a hard time finding at Wonder Book and Video or McKay's Used Books. Most paperbacks are between $3 and $5 (although some titles might be higher) and the hardbound books are priced at around $5.

Sections devoted to art, music, movies, theatre, science, history, African American studies, Womyn's Studies, religion, and other topics are a little more extensive, but also adhere to the philosophy of showcasing rarer titles over those titles (e.g., Our Bodies, Ourselves) you can find in just about any used bookstore.

The section devoted to vinyl records is extensive (lots of cassettes and CDs available, too) and quite eclectic. 

Near the front counter is a shelf devoted to new acquisitions; here you can find newly published hardbound books for 50 - 60 % (or more) off the cover price.

Summing up, while I can't necessarily recommend making a trip to Baltimore just to go to Normal's, if you are in town and have a few hours free, it certainly is worth your while to check it out. 

[Note that the surrounding neighborhood is reasonably safe during the day, but is sketchy after dark. I recommend making sure your car doors are locked, that you have no valuables displayed on the car seat, not waving your iPhone around while walking down the street, and being aware of who is around you and what they are - or aren't - doing]

1 comment:

Nephilim said...

Definitely a cool little book/record shop. I've found some interesting counter/sub-cultural stuff there bookwise, but yeah, the horror and sci-fi sections are pretty slim. Have you checked out Protean in Baltimore yet? Similar kind of store, but a little more in the way of speculative/horror fiction, obtained some cool finds there on my last trip.