Mimsy Were the Borogoves

Book Reviews: From political histories to bad comics, to bad comics of political histories. And the occasional rant about fiction and writing.

New Orleans: Beckham’s Bookshop

Jerry Stratton, January 15, 2020

Beckham’s Bookshop storefront

I finally made it back to New Orleans! I had some great food, saw some great sights, and managed to buy far more books than I’d planned on.

I was last in New Orleans a year before Hurricane Katrina; and the one store I worried about was Beckham’s. I remember it being a ramshackle bookstore in the French Quarter, with well-spaced piles of book lining the floors as well as the shelves—something easily wiped out by water damage, even if the actual flooding of the French Quarter was mostly news hysteria.

Beckham’s may smell a little mustier now—or it may not, I get used to the smell of mustiness in bookstores and don’t pay attention to it—but it’s still a ramshackle bookstore in the French Quarter, with well-spaced piles of books lining the floors as well as the shelves. It’s a great place to browse both in-order books and out-of-order books. There’s also a decent record store on the top floor.

That last time I was in New Orleans, I bought more at Beckham’s than just the role-playing book listed here. But this was before I’d started my database of books; I remember buying the role-playing book there vividly because I found it haphazardly located in one of those piles lining the floors. It was a memorable find. I don’t play Call of Cthulhu, but the Dreamlands are a great resource for any game. And it’s a beautiful hardcover; the cover art inside and out is phenomenal.

Whatever other books I bought there, I found in the shelves, and unlike the floors the shelves are easy to navigate. So they were less memorable finds.

This time around, I picked up a great Victor Davis Hanson book, Who Killed Homer? as well as an old-school slow-cooker cookbook from Better Homes and Gardens. I recently picked up the Better Homes and Gardens Homemade Cookies Cook Book and it has been phenomenal. The series doesn’t look like it’s going to rival the Southern Living collection I reviewed last year, but it has potential. I won’t be collecting the series because the series includes Better Homes and Gardens topics I’m uninterested in, unrelated to food; but I will be looking at any books I see in the library from the era.

While you’re in the area, you might also check out Dauphine Street Books; it is, however, not nearly as easy to browse. The shelves are cramped and would be difficult even if the floors weren’t also filled. There are good books there, however.

Beckham’s Bookshop
228 Decatur St.
New Orleans, LA

Oct. 8, 2019

Better Homes and Gardens Crockery Cooker Cook Book $2.00 cookbook
Who Killed Homer? John Heath, Victor Davis Hanson $6.00 hardcover

Oct. 23, 2004

H.P. Lovecraft’s Dreamlands: Roleplaying Beyond the Wall of Sleep $5.00

There are also great places to eat nearby. Just around the corner up Canal Street (and just past Crescent City Books on Baronne), Cleo’s Mediterranean has some amazing eggplant, kebbeh, and baklava—and probably more, but I couldn’t eat everything. In the other direction, Café Amelie on Royal Street provides more traditional New Orleans fare, both drinks-wise (I highly recommend the Amelie itself) and the muffuletta. If you’re more inclined to walk along the Mississippi, Loretta’s Authentic Pralines has a storefront in the French Market between Peters Street and Decature, and their beignets and pralines—and praline beignets—are unsurpassed. Their other baked goods are also well worth a try.

The area around Beckham’s is a great place to wander aimlessly, with great food for the brain as well as the stomach.

Beckham’s Bookshop shelves

Food for the mind at Beckham’s. The shelves are somewhat organized, the floors somewhat not.

Loretta’s Authentic Pralines beignet

And food for the eyes. Loretta’s Café’s praline beignets are amazing.

Cochon pork belly

And food from the belly at Cochon. This was an amazingly crunchy and melty pork belly starter. I could have eaten an entire meal of this.

Be aware that New Orleans is on New Orleans time, which may be up to half an hour off of what your phone says. So take your eyes off of your phone and take in the history, sounds, and smells around you.

In response to The bookstores less traveled: These aren’t the bookstores people travel across the country to visit. But if you’re already traveling across the country, you’ll want to take advantage of the opportunity to visit them.

  1. <- Ed’s Books and More