For booknuts like me, the closest thing to home is a place that is also home to books…especially if they’re pre-loved. This is why I didn’t hesitate to go when my friend MJ invited me to two such places in Quezon City one Saturday afternoon. :)
Bearing a name that is a pun on the Filipino word for thrift store (“ukay-ukay”) this miniscule bookshop in the Maginhawa Street, UP Village is a piece of heaven for bookworms.
Bookay-Ukay houses an impressive arsenal of cheap reads and hard-to-find titles, both pre-loved and brand new. Being a perfect Happy Hunting Lit Ground, it’s understandable that the whole place will look like a horror house for folks with an OCD-ish tendency to treat books like precious babies—for people who delight in seeing paperbacks in their proper shelf spaces, neat and all spines out (for people like me, basically).
But I guess it’s part of the shop’s charm. I imagine regulars rummaging through the shelves to find a book with a title, back-cover excerpt, or even cover art that will strike a chord with them. When they do find it here—I call it literary serendipity—they’d be too happy that they’d somehow forget to set the books around their newfound treasure upright again. :) Ah, the footprints of a book-hunt!
Staying for a few more minutes made me wish I live nearer the place so I can visit as often as I want, without having to go through a migraine-inducing commute because of the heat and hassle. Aside from books, the shop also sells CDs of underground music artists and various photographed and hand-painted/drawn bookmarks, which range from cute to creepy. :)
I didn’t get to buy books from there, as part of my pledge to NOT spend money for new titles as long as I still have a towering TBR novel stack at home (needless to say I’m proud of my self-control). Anyway, it won’t be the last time I’ll visit Bookay-Ukay. I’ll go here again sometime soon, hopefully after I’ve devoured at least half my “unreads”.
Cool Beans Cafe
A few minutes’ walk from Bookay-Ukay is the small but cozy Cool Beans Cafe.
There’s a friendly sign on the door saying “Please wipe your shoes before entering :)”, which reminded me of one of my grandma’s little commandments involving her immaculate white floor and all the kids in the house with mud-caked feet. If that doesn’t scream home (and nostalgia!), I don’t know what does.
Cool Beans’ mini-library shelters almost all lit genres you can think of: there are history books, biographies, magazines, comics, art books, photography books, poetry, essay anthologies, novels (Haruki Murakami! Arundhati Roy! Neil Gaiman!), and even a bunch of self-help titles.
Its library-esque silence is only broken by relaxing music, the soft chitchats of its patrons, or someone’s drink being called out to them. And to my initial bafflement, the picture frames on the walls contain either nothing or just the filler paper indicating the frames’ sizes in inches and centimeters. Later on I thought it’s because they are maintaining that “soft launch” feel they were still bannering outside the cafe.
Aside from their Highland coffees and frappes, they also sell pastries. MJ and I only get to try their red velvet cupcake, which admittedly wasn’t the best we’ve tasted. But hey, with a price like that, who’s complaining?
Always on the prowl for the best pasta recipe around, I also tried out their Cheesy Mushroom Carbonara. For Php150’s the gigantic serving is enough for two. It’s quite tasty, too. :)
We sat there ‘til the sun set, just browsing through books and talking. The ambiance will make you stay for hours!
When it’s time to leave, I swore that I have to find more of cafes like this. :)