Antique Store Books!

by | Nov 10, 2022 | Books, Reading | 12 comments

I thought it would be fun to list a few literary gems that I’ve found in antique stores. There’s something so thrilling about finding a beautiful old book tucked away on a crowded shelf!

First up: Dorrance Doings (1906) by Carolyn Wells. I had never heard of this one, which surprised me because I’m a Carolyn Wells fan, and it turned out it was actually the second book in a little-known duology. I promptly read the first book on Project Gutenberg before turning to this one, a sweet story about a trio of siblings.

Several years ago, I was excited to find this out-of-print book that I’d been searching for on the bottom shelf at a lovely antique store. The Secret Language (1960) by Ursula Nordstrom is a charming story about two girls at boarding school who devise their own secret language (that consists of only a few key phrases!) and build a clubhouse in the woods. The best part of this book is the oh-so-real interactions between the girls and the witty dialogue. Recommended for anyone who enjoys the books of Jean Little, Noel Streatfeild, or Beverly Cleary. This book is a mash-up of those three authors’ writing!

The Janitor’s Girl (1956) by Frieda Friedman was a book I was specifically looking for, so I was happy to find it. (How often do you ever stumble across the obscure vintage book you’re wanting?) I had previously enjoyed this author’s Carol (another antique store find!) and this one was fun as well.

Here’s huge favorite of mine: Return to Gone-Away (1961) by Elizabeth Enright. I have a newer reprint of this, but I couldn’t resist buying this 1960s paperback as well. The Gone-Away Lake books are like a breath of fresh summer air! If you’ve enjoyed them (and they MUST be read in order), be sure to check out this blog post I wrote last year about discovering a possible unfinished third manuscript.

Just Patty (1911) by Jean Webster had to come home as well. I’d read the first book in the series (or second? I believe they were published in non-chronological order), and knew I’d want this one too. It was a huge delight!

I also found these fabulous Penny Parker mysteries by Mildred Wirt (the original author of the Nancy Drew books)! There are many more books in this series, but I was glad to find three matching volumes to start my collection. My favorite of these was The Vanishing Houseboat (1939).

What are some of your favorite literary treasures found in antique store? Let me know in the comments!


  1. Marion

    Anna Rose I love this post. I am so happy to see a new blog post. There is nothing like discovering a book (especially) an old one that you have been yearning for. At a library sale a few years ago I discovered a hard cover book of “Ballet Shoes] and “Little House On the Prairie” despite having recent copies I knew I couldn’t pass them by. Unfortunately our library does not hold book sales any longer.
    Happy Thanksgiving

    • Anna Rose Johnson

      Thank you so much! How cool that you were able to find a hardcover Ballet Shoes, I only have a paperback!

  2. Joan

    At a book sale i discovered an old copy of “Beatrix Potter Biography’ and an original
    book about the child who Alice in Wonderland was based on by Lewis Carroll.
    Thank you for the list

  3. A.J. Syngraféas

    Ooh these look so good! I really am wondering if I could find some of them! Thank you for posting this Anna!

    • Anna Rose Johnson

      You’re welcome! Hope you find some that you enjoy! 🙂

  4. Faith Elizabeth Hough

    I’ve had a few spectacular find like this, and it always makes my day (or maybe year).
    And a third Gone Away Lake manuscript?! I had no idea! I love those books… Elizabeth Enright is such a brilliant writer. I have a vintage copy of Thimble Summer that is one of my favorites.

    • Anna Rose Johnson

      I know! I was so surpised when I found those manuscript pages. I love Elizabeth’s books so much! How fun that you have a vintage Thimble Summer.

  5. Marilyn

    At a library sale I found some of the old versions of Trixie Belden. I also found Gemma books. Thank You for this interesting post.

  6. Marion

    Anna Rose, Here are some Christmas books you might be interested in: Home For Christmas by Susan Branch, A Merry Christmas& Other Stories by Louisa May Alcott,Advent in Narnia by Heidi Haverkamp,Saint Nicholas The Real Story of the Christmas Legend,written by Julie Stiegemeyer,Old Christmas by Washington Irving,Lucia Morning in Sweden by Ewa Ryaker,Zuzu’s Petals A Dream of It’s A Wonderful Life by Karolyn Grimes&Karen Deming,Merry Christmas,Anne by Kallie. George [Inspired by Anne of Green Gables],Confederate Night Before Christmas by Mark Vogl,Father Christmas Father Tuck’s “Happy Hour” Series,A Visit To Santa Claus by Margaret Evans Price,Christmas Carols 12 Holiday Songs,Yes, Virginia There Is A Santa Claus by Francis P Church.
    Hope you find some of these books to enjoy.
    Joan,Marion and Marilyn

    • Anna Rose Johnson

      I’ve seen the Kallie George adaptations of Anne, they look absolutely adorable! Thank you for sharing these titles. 🙂


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