Literature in Stacks at Mondragon
From the outside, Market street seems like your typical downtown business district, consisting of chains, private stores, and houses. However, not all the houses are being occupied by humans. Mondragon houses a different genre of living creature: literature! Though from the outside, it may look like a place of little action, if any at all, there are many things happening inside the front door of this store. While situated in an older house, Mondragon offers a true “home” feeling as you enter. Though the hallway leading to the door into the store is not the most pleasing, owner of the store, Sarajane Snyder, does her best to use it to her advantage with a free book table and other literature pieces. Once inside, you can see the fast number of books that have book donated, gone through, and organized to the best of what the building has to offer, not only in space, but in size.
As you walk into Mondragon, one of the many volunteers that give their time to the store will usually greet you because that’s just the type of atmosphere they create. In the very front room, they have a theme of nature, from animals to plants and natural health. I find it very cool that you can find a book at one end of the bookshelf on “How to Plant Tomatoes” and at the other end, you can find “10 Different ways to use Tomatoes in an Everyday Kitchen”. Talk about planning! Tastefully accompanying the front section are various plants, whether it be potted flowers or just greens, they give you a sense of that that room is really about.
Continuing on your trip through, you can take a “historical” walk around the world, or pick your next vacation spot in their side room. Everything in this room gave me the feeling of being in a study of a house. Hardwood furniture, the very distinct lighting, a reading desk overlooking Market Street, and the sounds of the bookstore give that room especially that feeling of being in one’s home. The best part is having a window in the wall looking into the front room with the plants and the customers, allowing you to be connected to the other parts of the store, but yet feeling like you’re in your own separate space.
As we walk straight out of this room, we find ourselves in the heart of the store. In the Middle Room, art, politics, classic literature, spirituality, and culture come together into one room with no boundaries or barriers. In an interview with Sarajane, this room is among one of the most popular, specifically the religious/spiritual section. Depending on what books come in, sometimes they done even last a day on the shelves. Another popular spot, and one of their staples of the store is the bookshelf in the middle consisting of Shakespeare. As with most of the store, and very specifically in this room, there is an abundance of books, and a limited number of spots on the shelf. So, the floor, and stacks on a tables are the next alternative. Some people might call this tacky, but in the words of Walter Benjamin, “what else is this collection but a disorder to which habit has accommodated itself to such an extent that it can appear as order” (Benjamin).
Walking out of the Middle Room and heading back the hallway, there is books lining that hallway. The highlighted ones on the map that owner Sarajane has hung in the store indicate a good amount of humor and sports, which I find ironic that they are next to each other. However, the one that is missing from this list that is also in the hallway is a whole bookshelf of music books. Some are textbooks, but others are actually books of music literature, stories of famous musicians, and musical scores. When talking with Sarajane and telling her I am a musician, she immediately went and showed me this collection that she has in the store. Though it is not well known or the popular section of the store, Sarajane expressed interest in hoping to make it grow.
The back and final room is the next popular room in the store. In here, we find mostly fiction and novels but some small known authors and some big names. on the other wall, you can find what seems to be a collection of poetry and local writings, and well as some artistic writing. One unique display that Mondragon has in the room is the use of Pennsylvania history, maps, and writings. It feels out of place in that room, but yet it feels right. It’s weird! However, the next best seller is in this room… the children’s books!