A Lyrical Ballad In Saratoga Springs

Alison Morris -- March 6th, 2008

Two weeks ago Gareth and I drove to Saratoga Springs, N.Y., to cut a rug at the annual Dance Flurry Festival. Turns out we weren’t the only children’s book creators in attendance at this big event. That’s Joseph Bruchac in the center of the room below, beating a drum during "Dancing Our Stories: New England Native American Dances," one of two workshops he led with his son James Bruchac.

When we weren’t brushing up on our swing or tango moves, Gareth and I spent a bit of timing exploring the town of Saratoga Springs, where we stumbled upon Lyrical Ballad Bookstore, one of the prettiest and most well-stocked antiquarian bookstores I’ve ever had the pleasure of browsing. While we didn’t have ample time to spend in the place (I could have happily spent days there!) I did find enough time to snap a few photos for your viewing pleasure.

Below is the main entrance to the store, with Gareth peering in the doorway.

To the right of the entrance above is another nice display window, below.

Here’s the front counter that sits just to your left as you enter the door.

Bookends are displayed along the top of many of the store’s bookcases — I don’t know when or where I’ve seen so many in any one place.

While it may not look big from the front, the store is suprisingly large inside, with a maze of rooms tucked at the back, all chock full of books. Here’s a shot of the front room, facing the counter and front windows.

At the back of that front room is what was once a bank vault, as its door clearly indicates.

I like the quote on this plaque, which sits above the bank vault door: "The only book you’ll ever regret is the one you didn’t buy."

To your right as you face the bank vault are (what else?) more books, tucked into every available inch of space.


To your left are… WOW! The store seems to go on forever!

Here’s one of the rooms off the corridor above. Note that there’s a lack of shelf space in the place, despite its seemingly endless bookcases.

Here’s another room:

And another:

Here’s one that has both books and antique prints on display.

Here’s a print I had my eye on:

After touring that maze of rooms at the back I returned to the front of the store again, this time to the room that’s to your right as you enter  — the one behind the display window printed with the store’s name. It’s chock-a-block with huge art books, mostly, on every artist and era imaginable. Here’s how that room looks as you enter it:

Here’s how that same room appears as you’re facing the street. (Note the bookends atop the bookcases on the left-hand wall.)

I loved the cozy feel of this room on a sunlit day. It made me wish I had several hours in which to curl up with a copy of… any number of books I saw in this store! Here’s one I was particularly tempted by: Heroic Women of History.

What I was tempted by most, though, was not any particular book, but a bookcase: the beautiful rotating bookcase that sits just inside the store window. Tell me you don’t covet this:

That bookcase is good evidence of the fact that the Lyrical Ballad offers as much candy for the eyes as it does for the wallet. I was so taken with the beauty of the spines lined up on many of the shelves that I went a little camera-trigger happy. Here are three shots, just to give you a sample:

What can I tell you about the history and operations of the Lyrical Ballad? Not much, unfortunately. I spent too much time browsing and quickly found myself with none left to chat with the owners and pepper them with questions. Fortunately the Book Trout blog has filled that void with a wonderful post about this wonderful bookstore. Be sure to read what Book Trout has to say, and check out their other blog entries too. Reading them makes me think I definitely need to visit THEIR store, Old Saratoga Books, on my next Upstate NY trip!

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