Goodlight: Good Books, Great Escape

December 3, 2004

IT’S worth a trip to Alajuela, 17 kilometers west of San José onthe General Cañas highway, to visit the goodlight bookstore.Whether you’re a fanatical reader or a light browser, this new bookstoreoffers 9000 books and a big selection of videos on eye-pleasingpine shelves with enough room and good light for comfort.The goodlight bookstore is also an English-language escape,with tables and chairs on the patio under a roof, where a cup ofespresso or herbal tea, cookies and brownies, jazz music and acool and refreshing patio provide space for whiling away anafternoon.But the big selection of books is what makes a bookstore, andgoodlight books covers all categories, including cats, as Kitty is aresident pet. There are sections on art, philosophy, novels, mysteriesand crime (a huge selection), biographies, non-fiction, and a bigsection of books for young readers, which will also please thoselearning English as a second language for their simple style.PRICES start at an unbelievable 50 cents, and most books areunder three dollars. There is even a box of free books – those withoutcovers or that have other damage. Goodlight books buys andsells, but does not take trades, said owner Larry Coulter.The store is easy to reach, one block north of the cathedral andtwo blocks east, or, two and a half blocks east of the JuanSantamaría museum. It is just around the corner from the Jalapeñosrestaurant, a popular gathering place for ex-pats. There is on-streetparking by ticket in the neighborhood.Rapid Internet service is also available for checking your emailor sneaking a look at Amazon.com for book suggestions.International phone calling will be available soon. Goodlight isopen every day, Sundays too, from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.“Sometimes there is nothing to do on Sundays,” notes Coulter,who now offers a comfortable choice.COULTER is a newcomer to Costa Rica, but had made severalextended visits before settling here in January. His previoushome was Sebastopol, California, where he was a contractor forcarpentry and remodeling.His talents in carpentry and sculpture are what give goodlightbooks its special ambience. His metal sculptures, including a fountain,make a garden out of the patio. Clea, a life-size mannequin,adds a special touch of beauty.Coulter has thought of everything, including chairs scatteredaround the shop for customers’ comfort while researching theblurbs.Coulter’s interest in literature and poetry are the spur behind thebookstore.“The name goodlight comes from a line in the poem Si YoFuera Poeta by Antonio Machado, a Spanish poet from the ‘30’s,”he said. “La buena luz tranquila” describes a comforting good lightin which we see the world in flower.“A good light is also needed for reading,” explained Coulter,who added that in northern California there is a chain of bookstorescalled A Clean, Well Lighted Place for Books named after a shortstory by Hemingway. “Goodlight also expresses good reading andgood atmosphere,” he said.ALTHOUGH still in the finishing stage, goodlight books hasattracted North Americans looking for something to read and aplace to hang out, and Costa Ricans looking for literature inEnglish. Coulter says he even gets visits from schools looking forbooks in English.It’s not always easy selecting a few books out of 9000, andmore on the way, but with a cup of coffee and a brownie, it’s relaxingto join Clea, the mannequin, and Kitty, the cat, on the patiowhile listening to the trickle of the fountain and paging though ournew treasures.

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