Nathan Huston, Owner of Giant Nerd Books, Talks About Garland’s New Location, Reptiles, and Reading | Fall Arts | Spokane | Interior of the Pacific Northwest
When you grow up in Spokane and don’t identify with the dominant culture, you learn to find your little oases.
Christian hegemony is strong – even in retail – from cafes playing cult rock to thrift stores funded and run by religious organizations to craft stores with ready-made signs of Jesus. It creates a kind of consumer logic that you can find in other places as well, and growing up queer in Spokane, I learned to find my little oases.
Filled with all the weird and fringe books that can be hard to find online or offline, vintage quirks, natural history specimens, and comics, Giant Nerd Books is one of those places. The bookstore has an occult section, shelves devoted to oriental philosophy, a healthy horror wall, art books, classical literature, science, collectibles and much more that you will easily lose. hour or so wandering through the stacks of the selection.
OFF THE BEATEN TRACK
607 W. Garland Ave. â¢ Giantnerdbooks.com â¢ 509-868-0420
BARKER AND VINTAGE BOOKS
2907 N. Monroe St. â¢ barkerbooksandvintage.com
907 W. Garland Avenue â¢ facebook.com/booksrockmysocksoff
2174 Hamilton Street Spokane â¢ facebook.com/page42spokane
2415 N. Government Way, Coeur d’Alene â¢ bookishlyhappy.com
CORNER DOOR FOUNTAIN & BOOKS
3301 N Argonne Rd., Millwood â¢ cornerdoor.com
What seems eclectic and disparate all orbits together around shop owner Nathan Huston, who collects the items that revolve around him and holds them out to help keep our community a little weird. Huston has been an alternative bookseller in Spokane for 15 years, first working in a consignment space in Timebomb Collectibles before opening a full showroom on Monroe.
Recently, it moved to a new space on Garland Avenue with four times the space of its previous location. âThere is a lot more foot traffic,â he says. âThe 20 mph speed limit is a big help. People are forced to drive slowly, so we’re a lot more visible. And there aren’t any upstairs apartments here with old plumbing. 100 years that destroys my books. ”
As I walk in space, groups follow one another. Some have no idea what they are looking for until their hand falls on the blanket and they find it. Others – like the young girl who walks straight to the office and asks where to find A series of unfortunate events – know exactly what they are looking for.
Huston, a kind, thoughtful presence with a dedication to the dark, has built an empire knowing what he’s looking for. Giant Nerd Books is the emblem of a lifelong hobby. âI started buying old stuff from yard sales when I was a kid and I could trade it in for things I wanted more of,â he says. “Eventually I opened a store, so I had a place to put my things.”
Having been in the business for so long, Huston has seen many stores close.
âIn the ’70s and’ 80s, there were used bookstores everywhere. At one point, roommates and I made a fanzine that was a pro-Spokane cheerleader, and I did an article on second-hand bookstores, and it was multiple pages, âsays Huston. “Now I think there are four.”
If the kind of bookstore he runs is a bit of a lost art, it is certainly not a dead industry. “I feel there is a bit of a backlash in internet sales. With books in particular, there is some immediacy. If you’re in the mood for Dracula or you’re in the mood for Kurt Vonnegut, you want it right away. You don’t want to wait a week or two for shipping. There is a tactile element. ”
He stops, glancing into the back inventory space, the piles and stacks of new books that haven’t yet been rated and put on the shelves. “Some media are built for permanence. Books and vinyl records are two that come to mind. Everything else just feels temporary.”
In a time of extreme flow for everyone, Giant Nerd remains a touchstone in the community, using social media to post books and respond to customer inquiries. During the height of COVID, Huston says, he noticed people wanted to excessively read series.
âGreat increase in fantasy novels three or four inches thick, sci-fi, and a lot of metaphysics and the occult,â Huston said. “I don’t know if that was a coping mechanism or if it was just one of those things where people have lists of books that they’ve always intended to read and the locking gave them time.”
Due to the nature of his job, Huston constantly reads books he might store on the shelves, tracks requests, and searches for titles that match the selection he already has. When it comes to pleasure reading, these are usually natural history books on reptiles.
âFamily legend says that I learned to read using books about snakes and dinosaurs in the library when I was 3,â he says. âMy parents built a house north of town in the mid-1970s, and there were only a dozen houses in the area, so there was a lot of wood. Lots of rocks to flip over and look for moving items. . Lots of places where a youngster can get interested in nature and / or get in trouble. ”
Huston wants to be a facilitator of this kind of wonder.
âAs a kid, I was always a huge fan of the old Seattle waterfront curiosity store, so I’d love to do something like that but less cheesy,â he says. âI have a metaphysical section at the front of the store, but I would like the science section to be as big if not bigger to have a balance. Having natural history specimens in the store seems like an extension of that. . It’s a way for people to see things that they might not have been exposed to or otherwise would not have thought of. ”
When he talks about his natural history specimens, now his face lights up and it’s easy to see this kid checking under the rocks. Giant Nerd Books is a bit like that: the door to Garland like a rock to turn. Walk around and you will discover as you move – fiction, astrology, pocket books on crime – and if you’re lucky, in this oasis of counterculture you might find yourself too. ??