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The Haunted Bookshop

3.7 of 5 stars 3.70  ·  rating details  ·  2,030 ratings  ·  356 reviews
"When you sell a man a book," says Roger Mifflin, protagonist of these classic bookselling novels, "you don't sell him just twelve ounces of paper and ink and glue — you sell him a whole new life." The new life the itinerant bookman delivers to Helen McGill, the narrator of Parnassus on Wheels, provides the romantic comedy that drives the novel. Published in 1917, Morley's ...more
Hardcover, 253 pages
Published 1955 by J.B. Lippincott Company (first published 1919)
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Long ago I fell back on books as the only permanent consolers. They are the one stainless and unimpeachable achievement of the human race. It saddens me to think that I shall have to die with thousands of books unread that would have given me noble and unblemished happiness.

Scott Esposito made a shocking confession a few years ago on Coversational Reading: he didn't go to used book stores. He bought used books exclusively online. I was and remain shocked. Julian Barnes noted once with typical el

I seem to be the only person to like Morley's first book, Parnassus on Wheels, better than the sequel. I think it was mainly that I enjoyed Helen as a POV character better than Aubrey, who I didn't much care for. I mean, I get that his callow-youth-ness was deliberate, but I didn't care much about him nor was I rooting for him to get the girl. You can do better, Titania!

The German spy plot was pretty silly, although it probably held up better in the WWI era. It was fun, though, and all the part
2.5 Stars

I found this somewhat disappointing after Parnassus on Wheels. in Parnassus, we had a sweet, comfort read, perfect for book lovers. In Haunted Bookshop, we still have a bookish setting which is nice, but the story itself (in my opinion) is a cheesy, rather boring mystery featuring German troublemakers, a missing book, and a tepid romance.

Nope, not a winner for me.

By the way, this is not a ghost story. The only "ghosts" are fictional characters living in unread books.

Oh, and one thing th
This is a charming homage to the world of second hand booksellers, set in the time immediately after WWI. Roger Mifflin reprises his role begun in Parnassus on Wheels but is now stationary with his now-wife Helen in a bookstore in Brooklyn, not rolling along the roads of the country as an itinerant bookseller. The story allows for frequent philosophical musing on the place of books in the then modern world, the place of the seller as an educator of the masses.

If this sounds heavy, it most defin
Richard Reviles Censorship Always in All Ways
Well-loved books from my past

Rating: 3.5* of five

Allegedly a spy story-cum-mystery, it's really a love note from author Morley to the trade of bookselling, with a side of supremely sweet love story.

And I can't help myself, I am charmed and beguiled by the book, by the memories it holds, and by the sheer anti-German fervor of it.

This book and Parnassus on Wheels were in my maternal grandmother's library. She died in 1977, and I chose these two books to be mine because I liked the titles. I read t
Marts  (Thinker)
This classic mystery was a real page turner, very exciting, and for the book lover there was alot of additional knowledge on the history of various books, authors, etc. The plot, which focuses on some unusual happenings at the Mifflin's bookshop, was well presented and though it appeared to be a bit slow at times with Roger Mifflin expounding on books and their importance coupled with many elements of the book trade, the information was so interesting that I don't believe the volume deserves any ...more
Ich habe das Buch aufgeschlagen und hatte das Gefühl, da spricht jemand aus den Tiefen meines bibliophilen Herzen. Roger Mifflin ist die Idealvorstellung eines Buchhändlers. Er und seine Frau leben ihren gemeinsamen Büchertraum in dem Antiquariat ‚Parnassus‘, in dem es laut ihrer Aussage spukt. Es ist ein ruhiges Leben, in dem sich alles um Bücher und ihren Hund Bock dreht. Welcher Leser fühlt sich da wohl nicht verstanden und möchte am liebsten gleich einziehen? Doch der Leser sollte sich nicht ...more
Good fun: a wildly improbable plot, a beautiful damsel, a resourceful swain, very wicked baddies, Roger and Helen Mifflin, their dog Bock, and lots of secondhand books. What's not to like!
Many - most? - of the books available on Project Gutenberg are otherwise forgotten. Some of them quite deservedly so. And this is one of those.

Roger Mifflin runs a secondhand bookshop in just-post-WW1 Brooklyn, and expounds at great and rather tedious length on his philosophy of bookselling. Aubrey Gilbert works for an advertising agency and falls in love with Roger's "apprentice", the beautiful daughter of the advertising agency's biggest client. A copy of Carlyle's "Cromwell" keeps vanishing f
Although it is not essential to read the prequel to this book, Parnassus on Wheels, I highly recommend it as it helped me gain perspective and develop a fondness for Roger Mifflin and his wife Helen, which greatly improved my enjoyment of this novel.

Set in 1918 the country is beggining to recover from the effects of WWI, and the adventurers have given up their life on the road with the Parnassus, their travelling caravan of books, and are now living in Brooklyn above their bookshop, 'Parnassus
Mr Roger Mifflin and his wife Helen ran The Haunted Bookshop together – living upstairs above their shop was a delight and a pleasure for them both. Mr Mifflin spent his days wreathed in cigar smoke, enjoying the customers and their pursuits for the next best book. The evenings were extra special as the people who had toiled over a day’s work could relax and browse the many shelves with Mr Mifflin always on hand to help with a suggestion should they need it. His explanation on the name of his bo ...more
This was a delightful, old fashioned book with a clever story and interesting characters. I occasionally found Roger's long deliberations on all things literary a little tedious but this was more than made up for by the exciting mystery and the unexpected conclusion. I liked the characters enough to seek out a copy of Parnassus on Wheels which by all accounts is an even better book and one which I should probably have read first.
Required reading for every booklover. I had to wait a day before writing this review so I wouldn't gush too embarrassingly. The book contains a trite, amusing little mystery, interesting in it's parallels to current history and acts of terrorism. Yes, the pen is mightier than the sword, and I wonder if the secret service keeps an eye on copies of Team of Rivals and Lush Life, Obama's recent reading picks.

But the book is magnificent when Morley lets Mr. Mifflin rant. At times I felt I was readin
This book is a follow up to Morley's Parnassus on Wheels. Here rather than a traveling bookshop, the setting is a bricks and mortar shop in Brooklyn. I was definitely disappointed with this second book, starring the same characters. Where the first book made no mention of WWI, this book beat me over the head with it. It was written in 1919. Lots of lecturing by Roger Mifflin, the protag of Parnassus. The tone is very anti-German. Where I found Mifflin to be lovable and passionate and maybe a tad ...more
Gary  the Bookworm

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I can see why people find this charming-and a wee bit corny. It is set in a used bookshop in Brooklyn at the end of WWI
which is "haunted" by the authors of all the unread books on its shelves. It celebrates the world of book lovers and casts a worried glance at the coming onslaught from motion pictures. The childless couple who live over the shop are drawn with humor and affection, as is their Brooklyn neighborhood. When a young woman joins them to learn the business of book selling, their tra
Tyler Jones
If ever a book preached to the choir, this is it for me. For over twenty years I worked as a bookseller; one of the most financially un-rewarding and fun jobs one can imagine. For most of those years I worked for a manager who had a passion for book selling, and instilled in me and my coworkers the thought that book selling was a truly noble profession; one that changed peoples lives for the better. Among other things I learned that the idea was to sell the customer the book they want, but don't ...more
First published in 1919, the story finds Roger Mifflin running a second-hand bookshop in Brooklyn. We know immediately that this is no ordinary bookshop, as is stated on Mr. Mifflin's sign:

Parnassus At Home
R. & H. Mifflin
Booklovers Welcome!
This Shop Is Haunted

It's true that the "Parnassus at Home" is inhabited by many lively spirits and not all are among the living. And yet this is not a supernatural book. Rather, it refers to the ghosts of all great literature which haunt libraries and book
It seems impossible to read this without comparing it to the first book of Helen and Roger McGill, Parnassus on Wheels. While it's wonderful to revisit old friends, this book just didn't have the charm that the first had. And Helen is strangely minor in this book while Roger takes center stage. I missed Helen's voice which gave Parnassus so much of it's gumption and humor. If I'd read this book on it's own I probably would have been charmed by it more.
I really couldn't love this as much as I did Parnassus on Wheels. It's still permeated with that love of books, and the romance is kind of sweet, but I preferred the more unconventional romance of Roger and Helen. Introducing a pretty young girl to be a figure of romance took away one of the things I loved about Parnassus on Wheels, even if Helen was still a character.

Also, the mystery plot raised my eyebrows a bit. Doubtless of its time, but still. I would've preferred another paean to books an
Roger Mifflin, the feisty and and devoted bookseller of Parnassus on Wheels, is back. Now settled in Brooklyn, he and Helen run The Haunted Bookshop. Though primarily haunted by the ghosts of all great literature (Thomas Carlyle principal among them), it turns out that the bookshop is the scene of some other strange and suspicious comings and goings.

Those who have read Parnassus on Wheels (and really, you should read that one first) will miss Helen's refreshing point of view. But The Haunted Boo
"Read, every day, something no one else is reading," said the civilized Christopher Morley. Here's his valentine to lovers of books and bookshops. What are spies doing at the shop in Brooklyn ? Reading the same book, of course.
And no, Goodreads, this was not published in 1917, but rather 1921. And the date, coming a couple of years after the end of the Great War, is pertinent to the plot. *pats original edition with wonderful end-papers*

So this was wonderfully meandering, being all at once a discourse on reading and authors both significant and otherwise, a romance, and a spy thriller. It made me giggle more than once, sometimes intentionally and sometimes not. In the former case, the young hero is a very young advert
Julie Davis
I'm relistening to this and it is still perfectly charming. The love of books is wonderful and the sense of humor gentle but it makes me laugh. As I mentioned in my original comments, below, one must simply be (as the omniscient narrator tells us, "tolerant") of the little bookseller's political commentary.


A wealthy young woman's father gets her a job at his friend's second hand book shop in order to teach her about real life. It soon turns into a mystery. Is the bookshop haunted? Or is t
Olga Godim
This book is not nearly as good as its prequel, Parnassus on Wheels. In The Haunted Bookshop, we meet the same protagonists, Roger and Helen, plus two new ones, Aubrey and Titania, but neither the new characters nor the double number of pages made this novel better. Just the opposite, I think the longer format caused the writer to succumb to the unforgivable sin: wordiness.
The story itself mostly takes place in Roger’s bookshop in Brooklyn and, like its predecessor, it proclaims the value of bo
While in Dubuque last week, I found a copy of The Haunted Bookshop by Christopher Morley. I was curious to read it. I'm glad I did. I found the book fun and meaningful, leaving me both entertained and enlightened. The book is primarily a mystery but more importantly, gives deeper insight into the seemingly humble job of bookseller. Within the suspenseful story, Morley weaves commentary about war and the value of literature. As peace activist and bookseller, the subject matter was a perfect fit f ...more
First of all, I live near Christopher Morley Park. Though, I've never been there, people always speak well of it. I never knew who Morley was. Second, my mother lived in Brooklyn and my daughter lives there now. I don't know Brooklyn, but I have haunting memories of it, from when, as a child, I'd take a walk with my grandfather. Now, my husband and I occassionally get lost in Brooklyn when visiting my daughter.
I was thrilled as I began this novel, which was written in 1918 or so, to think of my
Ana Rînceanu
Before this nouvella, I'd never heard of mr. Christopher Morley and after meeting him. I've got mixed feelings. The first half of the book is beyond great and we meet Roger Mifflin, artistic bookseller, who makes reference to the knowledge and wisdom that one can gain from literature. I adore literary references, especially when they are woven in the story properly. He represents the art, while our other lead younger Aubrey Gilbert is all about publicity. On the other hand, the second part is wh ...more
I put this on the WW1 and two shelf, even though technically it's right after the first World War.
An absolute delightful book, and I'm so glad I read it in November, because that's when it is-and I even read it after it had rained, in the evening, and it starts out on a cold rainy evening in Brooklyn. (where I am not at, alas). Our hero of the story, Aubrey Gilbert, is an advertising agent, and it is Mr. Roger Mifflin's Haunted Bookshop that he seeks on that particular evening. To see if Mr.
Ein tolles Buch und eine klare Leseempfehlung von mir! Mich hat das Cover angesprochen und der Klappentext neugierig gemacht - auch wenn er nicht viel von der Geschichte preisgibt – und ich wurde wahrlich nicht enttäuscht. Ich könnte nicht sagen, welchem Genre ich das Buch zuordnen würde – ist es eine Hommage an alle Bibliomanen, ein Geisterbuch, in dem Bücher auf mysteriöse Weise verschwinden oder ein Krimi, der in einem Antiquariat spielt? Von allem hat dieses kleine Büchlein etwas und es ist ...more
So the plot isn't really a plot, but on those rants on books make this a book worth reading. Unless you're German. You might want to skip it, if you're German.

But oh those rants. Forget the plot read the rants. The love prose to books, good old smelly books.
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Goodreads Malaysia: The Haunted Bookshop (Christopher Morley) 19 32 Jul 28, 2011 04:56PM  
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Christopher Morley was born in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania while his father was a mathematics professor at Haverford College. Morley graduated from this same school in 1910 as valedictorian. He then went to New College, Oxford University for three years on a Rhodes Scholarship, studying modern history. Arriving home, he headed out to Garden City to begin his life of letters at Doubleday, where he work ...more
More about Christopher Morley...

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“Printer's ink has been running a race against gunpowder these many, many years. Ink is handicapped, in a way, because you can blow up a man with gunpowder in half a second, while it may take twenty years to blow him up with a book. But the gunpowder destroys itself along with its victim, while a book can keep on exploding for centuries.” 49 likes

I GIVE humble and hearty thanks for the safe return of this book which having endured the perils of my friend's bookcase, and the bookcases of my friend's friends, now returns to me in reasonably good condition.

I GIVE humble and hearty thanks that my friend did not see fit to give this book to his infant as a plaything, nor use it as an ash-tray for his burning cigar, nor as a teething-ring for his mastiff.

WHEN I lent this book I deemed it as lost: I was resigned to the bitterness of the long parting: I never thought to look upon its pages again.

BUT NOW that my book is come back to me, I rejoice and am exceeding glad! Bring hither the fatted morocco and let us rebind the volume and set it on the shelf of honour: for this my book was lent, and is returned again.

PRESENTLY, therefore, I may return some of the books that I myself have borrowed.”
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