Best Book Store (Independent) St. Louis 2008 - Subterranean Books
Writer Luc Sante likens looking around a room full of books to taking a journey; as your eye skips from title to title, images spring to mind and connections are made, snippets of data about the author bubble to the surface, times distant and long gone snap back to the present. It's one of life's greatest pleasures, walking into a bookstore and experiencing that frisson as the subsumed depths of your mind fire simultaneously, reminding you with a charge that your brain is a vaster realm than you sometimes credit. Scratch that — it's one of life's greatest pleasures walking in to Subterranean Books and experiencing those mental pyrotechnics, because this is a shop that caters to books and the people who love them. No ziggurats of one title loom on tables in the doorway, no racks of impulse buys, no movie tie-in toys, no cutouts of Dr. Phil hawking his latest "tome" occlude your sight. Owner Kelly von Plonski has re-created Subterranean in the past year, resetting the floor plan to better accommodate her belief that the greatest variety of titles on the broadest range of topics is the Tao of the bookstore. The upstairs is still an art gallery, but new shelves allow for a maximization of space so that expanded sections covering interior design, cooking and the DIY movement offer inspiration. The erotica has been moved to the front of the shop for ease of access, a now-close neighbor to shelves devoted to ritual magic, the Beats and an entire section devoted to Taschen Books' bizarre view of the world. Literature, one of the most evocative words in the English language, is the backbone of the store still, twin columns that run the length of the room. The journey of a thousand years begins here at Subterranean, as soon as you open your eyes.