Last week we had the great pleasure of visiting The Old Florida Book Shop for the first time.
I took my five oldest children and we spent multiple hours there, and way too much money. Rachel, sadly, was at the dentist, so we bought a couple of books for her as well.
Here we are with Mr. William Chrisant, the owner:
It’s an absolutely epic store that you must see if you are literate and visiting the Ft. Lauderdale area. The Old Florida Book Shop is located on Griffen road between I-95 and 441, in the same plaza with Once Upon a Quilt.
The music inside was all classical and in excellent taste. The decor was Victorian and earlier, and the bookshelves were shockingly tall, reaching a good twenty-something feet towards the ceiling. The shelves in the store are three titles deep, too, which makes it even crazier. You could spend hours and hours and not see everything.
While there, I got three books on Victorian architecture and a book on Victorian gardens, plus a large edition of the paintings of Andrew Wyeth, a leather copy of the works of Rudyard Kipling, a vintage illustrated translation of Lysistrata, a book covering a debate between Christian fundamentalism and Roman Catholicism, an absolutely wild book titled The Biggest Secret by David Icke, an awesome huge art book of the works of both Lucas Cranach the elder and the younger, a nice guide to landscape painting in oils, and various other books I can’t remember at the moment.
My children bought even more, so we left with quite a collection.
Mr. Chrisant told me he moved down to South Florida with his wife after running a book store in Virginia.
“This isn’t at all a store I would expect in South Florida,” I said.
“No, it’s rather a wasteland for this sort of thing here,” he replied.
“Yes, but that’s good!” I said.
“Why would you say that?” he said.
“You’re an oasis in the desert,” I told him. “You stand out even more because this is so very different.”
“I like that way of looking at it,” he agreed pleasantly as he helped pack a box full of the books we’d just purchased.
We were impressed with his hard work and knowledge. Entering the store is like going back in time. There are some quite ancient books there, monstrous constructions of brass and leather, hiding in antique glass cabinets.
As we rebuild our own library after our move in 2020, we hope to do some of the same in our new house.
Though we’ll never own the 30,000+ volumes Mr. Chrisant does, we greatly appreciated the inspiration of seeing his magnificent shelving and layout. One feels as if Phileas Fogg would be quite at home here.
The Old Florida Book Shop is a solid 10 out of 10.
If you are in South Florida, this is a must visit!