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The Haunted Bookshop

3.68  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,373 Ratings  ·  416 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 f ...more
Hardcover, 253 pages
Published January 1st 2004 by Castle Books Inc (first published 1919)
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Community Reviews

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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
Aug 12, 2015 Dorcas rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery, post-ww1
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
May 18, 2013 Miriam rated it liked it
Shelves: books

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

Jolly good fun! A delightful story (love letter of sorts in a figurative way) celebrating bookshops, booksellers, bibliophiles, wordsmiths, and the joyous phenomenon of being 'haunted' by books.

"Did you ever notice how books track you down and hunt you out? They follow you like the hound in Francis Thompson's poem. They know their quarry! . . . It's one of the uncanniest things I know to watch a real book on its career - it follows you and follows you and drives you into a corner and makes
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 Derus
Jul 08, 2012 Richard Derus rated it liked it
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
Maria Clara
Jan 29, 2016 Maria Clara rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
UNA DELICIA. En serio, una historia deliciosa, mágica. Su autor, Christopher Morley, nos adentra en una librería encantada (tal como reza el título del libro), donde conoceremos la pasión que siente el librero por los libros; por esos fantasmas que, según él, asechan a todo lector. También veremos y conoceremos a la señorita Titania, hija de un rico hombre de negocios, que se traslada a vivir a la librería, y como no, al publicista que palpita por su amor. Y como no podía ser de otra manera, tod ...more
Marts  (Thinker)
Jan 18, 2014 Marts (Thinker) rated it it was amazing
Shelves: classics, 2014-reads
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
Oct 31, 2014 Dorian rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Nov 02, 2015 Eleanor rated it liked it
Shelves: humour, 2015-books
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!
May 16, 2014 Carolyn rated it really liked it
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
My third consecutive reading centered on the inter-World war period, Bookshop reflects the optimism and social consciousness of that period, but overlaps a period romance and a mystery. That the mystery involves an international bomb plot will jolt modern readers. Lots of preaching; boring at times. Much gushing over the power of literature to change the world even as the tale reflects jingoistic nationalism.

The plots are well-developed and intertwined with just enough mis-direction to entertain
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
May 19, 2014 Phrynne rated it really liked it
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
Denisse Garza
Dec 07, 2015 Denisse Garza rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015, 4-stars
Tan sólo imagínense la escena de ustedes mismos entrando en un local algo viejo pero llamativo, de esos que parecen tener mucha historia. Y toparse, nada más entrando, con el siguiente poema grabado en un letrero de madera:

por los espectros de tanta gran literatura
como hay en cada metro de estantería.
No vendemos baratijas,
aquí somos sinceros.
Amantes de los libros: seréis bienvenidos
y ningún dependiente os hablará al oído.
¡Fumad cuant
Aug 03, 2015 Bev rated it it was amazing
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
Sep 06, 2015 Jennifer rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
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.
Mar 31, 2014 Nikki rated it it was ok
Shelves: romance, mystery
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
Jun 05, 2014 Antonia rated it really liked it
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
Mar 04, 2016 Alisha rated it it was ok
I started out really liking this! The first couple of chapters were right up my alley. But as it went on, it alternated between long bouts of philosophizing and a plot that advanced glacially slowly on the theme of Germans-are-the-bad-guys, they look normal to begin with but beware the unguarded moments when an expression of utter villainy of the deepest dye will distort their visage, they will beat you up and plant an ill-defined and not very believable bomb in your bookshop... and I just didn' ...more
Jun 15, 2013 Sketchbook rated it liked it
"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.
Dec 23, 2015 Monica rated it really liked it
From the book: It's a good thing to turn your mind upside down now and then, like an hour-glass, to let the particles run the other way.

The Haunted Bookshop continues the story of booksellers Helen and Roger from the earlier publication, Parnassus on Wheels. A mix of comedy, mystery, espionage, and a bit of early 20th century romance. There are so many clever and thought provoking lines in the book. One that caught my attention:

Printer's ink has been running a race against gunpowder these many.
Jul 17, 2013 Elderberrywine rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: drama
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
Sep 09, 2015 Julie Davis rated it really liked it
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
Dec 15, 2013 Olga Godim rated it liked it
Shelves: mainstream
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
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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.” 54 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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