Third House Books & Coffee Showcases Books by Local Writers
For all you book lovers out there, Gainesville recently opened an independent bookstore and it’s quite unique from the others around town.
Third House Books and Coffee, which has been open since October 2016, specializes in titles from small independent presses, according to their website. This shop only has an inventory of 300 titles, which makes it rather small. So, what makes Third House Books and Coffee stand out?
“I think it has to be it’s size … It’s only 650 sq. ft. with only about half of that as retail space for the books,” Owner Kiren Valjee said. “It throws some people off when they walk in, but most, I think kind of get into it; it’s a little strange, but also cozy.”
Since this bookstore is relatively small, it allows you to browse each book individually without feeling overwhelmed by a huge selection of titles. This bookstore also has a seating area and a coffee menu, but one of the greatest parts about this shop is that it’s attached to Downtown Wine & Cheese.
Valjee, who graduated with his masters in English literature from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst in 2009, said that when he was in grad school, he seemed to naturally gravitate toward the creative writing students.
“I became fast friends with many of them I think because I secretly wanted to be like them, be a writer,” he said.
He explained that during his time in school he met so many extremely talented writers and a lot of them were getting published, but by very small presses.
“I thought it was a shame that these books by these amazing writers are hard to find in brick and mortar stores,” Valjee said. “Considering the space restrictions Third House has, it seemed like a perfect opportunity to support these writers and create something unique.”
So he decided to make it Third House Books and Coffee shop’s mission to support these writers, which is why this shop primarily specializes in books from small independent presses. He explained that his intention was to give customers a space to explore and really get to know some books they may not have heard of.
Valjee said he has seen high traffic with books either about local culture, things that take place in Gainesville or things in North Central Florida.
“I think people like to see that the town they live in is on the map; it makes you feel a little famous,” he said.
Book topics can range from fiction to the music scene or nature and wildlife. Many books in stock deal with racism, sexism, misogyny and prejudice for the LGBTQ+ community, he said. Valjee, who is against discrimination of all types, said many of the books are either fiction with loose or strong thematic ties to the issues stated above while other books are direct commentaries.
“These issues are important because people will try to convince you that they (the issues) are somehow separate from art and literature, but the truth is that they are inextricable from the everyday lives of those affected adversely by them, so they are very much part and parcel of art and literature,” he said.
One of Valjee’s favorite books in stock currently is The Australian by Emma Smith-Stevens, whom he briefly dated.
“She is one of the best writers I have ever read, and I’m so proud to know her and proud of her,” Valjee said.
So, where did Valjee get the idea to name his shop Third House Books and Coffee? Well, in 1989 a book called The Great Good Place was published. Written by anthropologist Ray Oldenburg, he talked about the role of places such as cafes, bookstores, salons and bars in our society.
“He called them the third places, or third homes, with the idea that your first home is the home you sleep in, your second is the one you work in or at, and the third being that community space or sanctuary where you go to rejuvenate, unwind, gossip or escape,” Valjee said. “That’s what I want Third House to be for people of our community; a home away from home.”
If you’re interested, check them out here. If you want to pop in and see what this new bookstore is all about they are open Tuesdays – Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., but they’re closed on Mondays.