So Long Summer: A Visit to Isaiah Thomas Books on Cape Cod

Labor Day used to mark the end of the season on Cape Cod until the beginning of the K-12 school year was pushed back to late August.  So today is like the perfect time to run the last of our summer’s tributes to independent booksellers across the country.

I’ve been haunting Isaiah Thomas Books on the Falmouth Road for years.  It’s a stone’s throw away from the Cahoon Museum of American Art, which is currently undergoing expansion.  You can’t miss the rambling house painted bright pink with stained glass windows…

isaiah_thomas_entrance isaiah_thomas_stained_glass

There is plenty of parking for people looking for second hand copies of books for summer reading, crafting books, Barry Moser prints, antiquarian books, books on Cape Cod and New England, art books, books in foreign languages, books on collectibles–toys, china, silver, jewelry, textiles, clothing and accessories, model trains, etc.  The Isaiah Thomas website claims the stock is about 70,000 titles, but it has to be an understatement. There are books piled high on the floor in front of bookcases that reach the ceiling, there are books wedged in the space between the tops of the books and the bottoms of the shelves.



The sculptures littering the premises are something of a distraction.  I don’t remember seeing the inflatable Orca leaping over a case of miscellaneous hardbacks or the King Tut in the history section last year.


king tut

My second stop after the collectibles section is the children’s department, which also houses all the cookbooks.  A very enlightened arrangement for the gourmet bibliophile.  The tiger is new too.


It’s always fascinating to see what children’s books Cape Codders discard from year to year.  Once there were shelves and shelves of books in the Goosebumps series, which I should have culled for the collection and didn’t.  Another time I scored a complete set of Beatrix Potter’s little books for the Cotsen gallery and we are still retrieving them from the floor and putting them back in the Hearth of Darkness.    One summer I wiped clean two of three shelves of American Girl books and had the pleasure of directing a Princeton undergraduate history major to them within a year.  August 2015 was the summer of series books, some with great designs on the dustjacket spines.  Lemony Snickett, Nancy Drews in the yellow bindings,  Hardy Boys, Junior Deluxe editions, The Happy Hollisters, The Boy Allies…

isaiah_thomas_boy_allies isaiah_thomas_junior_deluxe



It is hard to visit Isaiah Thomas without being waylaid by the store cat, who shamelessly demands love and generally gets it.  While she was sprawled on the counter near the cash register, the proprietor confided in me that she is no mouser…  Customers are warned not to let her escape into the parking lot anyway.

isaiah_thomas_cat isaiah_thomas_door

I could buy on-line from Isaiah Thomas Books, but somehow it’s not the same as poking around the premises with Max Raabe crooning in the background on a cloudy morning that promises to turn fair by lunchtime.


A painting by Ralph Cahoon, of course.