The Haunted Bookshop was founded in 1978 and is Iowa City’s oldest second-hand book shop. While they’ve only been in their current location for three years, the roots of the residence on Gilbert Street run deep. The historic single-family Wentz House was built in 1847 and is a historic site because of its rare Greek Revival style.
The building is now filled with chairs and a couch for lounging. A lone table serves as a gathering place, and a piano is available for those who want to flex their musical muscles. Soft lighting from lamps fills nooks in the evening, while natural light from the large windows fills the shop during daylight hours. The shop even has pets, two cats named Nierme and Logan, who will pop up next to you when you least expect it.
Rooms that were once bedrooms and parlors have turned into mazes of bookshelves filled with the aroma of aged paper. Visitors learn quickly that trying to walk up the narrow stairwell quietly is impossible. Instead of the quiet hush of a library, The Haunted Bookshop is filled with the sounds of creaking wood, padding paws, and the occasional lilting notes of music.
For the past 38 years, the shop has kept an inventory of more than 50,000 used, vintage, and collectible books that cover more than 50 subjects. The Haunted Bookshop also carries a wide selection of games, toys, and cards.
The staff are always helpful and ready to share quirky book facts with you. Customers walk into what could’ve once been a sitting room to see a cash register counter and a desk piled with books and paperwork.
The big question many people ask is: How is it haunted? While many customers go there expecting to see flickering lights or experience a sudden drop in temperature, the shop is actually named after a novel of the same name by Christopher Morley.
Ghost or no ghost, The Haunted Bookshop is still a great place to go to find unique books for yourself or a friend. You never know what you might discover, and the staff is always adding more to the collection.
Photo credit: The Indie Bob Spot