PENINSULA - If books are your secret (or not so secret) pleasure, the Peninsula may just surprise you. Home to five main book haunts, and with other book nooks located in hotels/bed-and-breakfasts, antique stores and consignment/thrift shops, the Peninsula is book Nirvana, rain or shine. With just enough initiative to barely wander off the beaten path, book bliss awaits. Luckily, you'll find Peninsula book people a friendly and knowledgeable bunch. If they don't have exactly what you want, they will call around and send you to the bookseller who does. Most of them will special order, some deliver, some do valuations and research - just ask. Here's the scoop on the five main Peninsula book haunts, shelved in alphabetical order, of course:

Banana BooksLocated at Third Street Southwest (near the Shaman Hotel) in downtown Long Beach. Their hours are Thursday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. (May through October). Phone: 642-7005. Owner: Edward "Ed" Grey; Pet: Sobe, an American Staffordshire.

This gem snuggles just west of the Long Beach main drag, an easy walk from nearly all hotels. An intimate setting, you can relax inside, or kick back and catch rays on the deck while enjoying an excellent house-made espresso-based drink or an Italian soda.

Grey describes his stock of gently used books, as well as his collectible and rare stock as "An uptown inventory in downtown Long Beach." While Banana Books covers all subjects, Grey says he has plenty of summer reading, including current fiction and great titles in pop culture. Conveniently located, great selection, comfortable seating, and tasty drinks-what more could a book lover want?

Catherine O'Toole, BooksellerLocated at 1310 Bay Avenue, Ocean Park (on the beach approach). Their hours are Daily, from 11 a.m. Phone: 665-0004. Owner: Catherine O'Toole; Pet: Jetsam, a black and white kitty.

Turn westward at the town center's four-way stop, go about 100 feet, and you will spot this book-lover's Mecca on the south side of the road. According to owner O'Toole, the building served as Ocean Park's earliest Methodist Church, but few clues of its original function remain. Just look for the windows filled with books - more than 30,000 books.

An English-educated Irishwoman, O'Toole is a writer of short stories and poetry, and her understanding of good literature is evident throughout. Her stock consists of used books, many out-of-print, and she has assembled an extensive fine art section. In addition to her books, O'Toole sells botanical prints, and her interests are leading her to expand her natural history section in the near future. The store's premise is variety, variety, variety: it covers all subjects and maintains a very broad range of titles, with only one or two copies of each in stock. So, don't be surprised (just really stoked) if you discover that hard-to-find book while hunting at Catherine O'Toole's.

Independent BooksLocated at 110 Pacific Highway South (near the pharmacy) in the heart of downtown Long Beach. Hours: Daily, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Phone: 642-8438. Owner: Gayle Borchard; Pet: Shorty.

Walk a few short steps down a covered breezeway east of the main drag or park in back, then follow the book carts and wallow in 15,000+ volumes. According to owner Borchard, the stock is about 50 percent new, 40 percent used, and 10 percent collectible (with an off-site warehouse of collectibles also available for by-appointment browsing). Prices range from 50 cents to $5,000, and publication dates from 1709 to last week's releases. The store covers all topics, but provides ample space for local/regional authors and histories, and has a first-rate Lewis and Clark section.

There is a lot of territory to cover, so it's a good thing there are cozy chairs and a free coffee pot, as well as a kid's corner (and on Saturdays, a face painter) to keep the tots busy while you troll the aisles. Independent Books is known for fun events supporting authors/writers as well as child literacy, and sponsors an open-forum "book breakfast" the last Wednesday of each month.

Long Beach Trading PostLocated at 22604 Pacific Highway in Klipsan Beach a few miles south of Ocean Park (two doors south of 227th). Hours: Daily, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Phone: 665-3611. Owner: Brenda Hill; Pet: Dozer, a schnoozer.

Book collectors set aside a major block of time to dive into this tasty used and collectible paradise. Owner Hill has spent years amassing a pleasing and really winning collection, and there appears to be at least 10,000 books here. This is a very large antique emporium, and includes not only a substantial stand-alone book section, but also books set up in many themed displays (for example, there are hundreds of cookbooks in a charming kitchen area). It's all a secret plot to get you to wander the entire store, and it works perfectly. Hill has nearly all topics, but some subjects of note include Northwest histories, cowboys, Native Americans, and children. She also has an ample number of military histories, including the classics Deeds of Valor and Progress of Nations. Hill wanders the west coast scouting books, and adds new titles frequently, so make sure to come back to the Trading Post for more.

Time Enough BooksLocated at 157 Howerton Avenue, on the Ilwaco waterfront. Hours: Daily, from 10 a.m. Phone: 642-7667. Owner: Karla Nelson; Pet: Harper Lee, a yellow labrador puppy.

Nestled in the up-and-coming Ilwaco gallery and restaurant row, and with a new street-side entrance and recent expansion, this store is easy to find and offers a warm and friendly atmosphere for bookies. Owner Nelson describes Time Enough as a new and used bookstore carrying written and audio books that cover all topics, with an extensive maritime collection that lends itself to the store's dockside setting. Add cozy seating and a fireplace, and it's hard to imagine a more welcoming book-hunting experience. Nelson is a Harry Potter fanatic, and at Time Enough children can talk to an enthusiastic staff who know kids books, and who can provide the latest and "hottest" titles.

Nelson is known for her support of writers/authors and the community: she sponsors the school library "Book Booster" program, and is a main contributor to the Ocean Beach Education Foundation. Her store events support local and regional authors, and upcoming events include a release of Sherry Strayed's "Torch" on Labor Day weekend, and the release of Jane Kirkpatrick's upcoming book set in Pacific County.

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