Category Archives: Past Events

A Philadelphia Story! Book Signing

A Philadelphia Story!  

Book Signing with Lori LitchMan

Thurs, Aug 11th 6pm – 730Pm


How well do you know Philadelphia? Find out more about our nation’s first city from Lori Litchman, author of “A Philadelphia Story: Founders and Famous Families from the City of Brotherly Love”. 

Lori Litchman is a lifelong Pennsylvanian. She grew up near coal country in the Pocono Mountains before making Philadelphia her home. She writes about Philadelphia, nature and the environment, law, and social and urban issues. When she’s not writing, she is usually teaching English to non-native speakers.

Lori received her MFA in Creative Nonfiction from Goucher College. Her personal essays have been published in Philadelphia Reflections: Stories from the Delaware to the Schuylkill and the online literary magazine, The Fiddleback.

She has worked as a daily newspaper reporter for The Legal Intelligencer and Pennsylvania Law Weekly. While there, she won first place in a statewide writing competition for her article hashing out the details of Pennsylvania’s Megan’s Law. She has also published a variety of science and environmental pieces. Her work has appeared in national and local print and online publications.

Lucinda Hawksley Book Tour & Pre-order





We are excited to be the bookseller for this special Free Library event! Get your free tickets here & join me in welcoming a direct descendant of Charles Dickens. She will discuss her latest books: Queen Victoria’s Mysterious Daughter & Charles Dickens and his Circle.

Ms. Hawksley will be traveling from London, and due to her rare US appearance, we are selling a selection of signed books here. Pre-orders are suggested due to limited quantities.  We are happy to ship anywhere in the US.  Pick up SIGNED COPIES of her latest books, or get gorgeous special editions of a few Charles Dickens novels signed by his great-great-great-granddaughter.


Bio:  Lucinda Hawksley is an author, art historian and public speaker, with a special interest in literature and art from the 19th and early 20th centuries and in the history of London. She is also an award-winning travel writer with a love of the environment and a volunteer speaker for the Whales & Dolphins Conservation Society.

As a great great great granddaughter of Charles and Catherine Dickens, Lucinda has grown up with an interest in her own family history. For the last decade she has been a Patron of the Charles Dickens Museum in London – and also recently been made Patron of the Norwegian Pickwick Club!




The secrets of Queen Victoria’s sixth child, Princess Louise, may be destined to remain hidden forever. What was so dangerous about this artistic, tempestuous royal that her life has been documented more by rumor and gossip than hard facts? When Lucinda Hawksley started to investigate, often thwarted by inexplicable secrecy, she discovered a fascinating woman, modern before her time, whose story has been shielded for years from public view.




In this new volume, historian and award-winning author Lucinda Hawksley explores the life of her great-great-great-grandfather, Charles Dickens (1812–70)?one of the first people to whom the term “celebrity” in its modern sense was applied, and whose extensive circle of friends and associates included many of the most eminent and influential figures of the Victorian age.



great exThe beautiful hardcover edition by Penguin Classics.  Perfect as a gift or for  your library.








ht cdThe beautiful hardcover edition by Penguin Classics.  Perfect as a gift or for your library.








ocsThis lovely Modern Library Edition is a must for any collector.








christmas carolThe gorgeous Penguin Christmas Classic Edition is affordable and ready to be displayed.








ge pbkAnother superb edition by Penguin: The eye-catching and collectible paperback 150th Anniversary Edition.








Must Read Books from 2015 – Grace

If you love to read, it can be overwhelming to keep up with all of the new book releases.  You have your ever-growing stack of classics you should have read, plus a pile of books your friends and family let you borrow, and maybe another pile of books that inspired your favorite binge watches (mine are Game of Thrones, Wolf Hall, Daredevil, The 100….).

Lucky for you, here at The Spiral Bookcase we can tell you what you should put at the top of those To Be Read piles. Here are my favorite books released in 2015! You can special order them here at the shop (just give us a ring at 215-482-0704 or stop in / we are happy to ship too!), and don’t forget: new hardcovers from the last twelve months are 20% off here, so many of these titles would be discounted for you!

modern romanceModern Romance by Aziz Ansari

You may know him from his roles in Parks & Recreation or Master of None, but Aziz Ansari also released his much-anticipated nonfiction book Modern Romance last year! Ansari teamed up with sociologist Eric Klinenberg to analyze (mostly millenial) dating patterns and the influence of technology and tradition. The research was conducted through international focus groups, Reddit, and audience participation at live comedy shows.

between the world and meBetween the World & Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

This stunning National Book Award winner should be required reading for parents, teens, politicians, teachers…well, this book should be required reading for all US citizens. Between the World and Me is a breathtaking 152 page letter from Coates to his adolescent son about growing up as a black man in America. It is unforgiving, beautiful, and it will be legendary.

dietlandDietland by Sarai Walker

Plum Kettle is saving up for weight-loss surgery when she meets a mysterious young woman who questions her isolation and obsession with being thin. Then, the sudden disappearance of her new friend leads Plum to a network of women who challenge her to to protest gender inequality and beauty standards, and to ask herself, “What if I didn’t need to lose weight to be happy? What if I started living my life now?”

go set a watchmanGo Set a Watchman by Harper Lee

Fans of American classics were shocked when this rumored sequel released more than 50 years after the publication To Kill a Mockingbird. Despite the upset that beloved character Atticus Finch is racist in this sequel, the book presents an important lesson to a new generation of readers: sometimes our heroes fail us, and it is up to us to make the world a better place.


all the bright placesAll the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

This young adult debut tells the story of Violet and Finch, teens divided by socioeconomic background and friend groups, but brought together by grief and mental illness. Hilarious, romantic, and ultimately tragic, I love any book that reminds me I have more in common with strangers than I know.


I’d love to hear your thoughts on these books – read them, comment, stop in the shop and chat with any of us! We are happy to ship out-of-town, so just call 215-482-0704 or email if something catches your eye.



the spiral bookcase, main street music, & johnny’s destructo’s hero complex present:

geek love | #geeklovemnyk

enter to win: february 1st – february 13th 


It’s our time!  THAT’S RIGHT GEEKS, IT’S OUR TIME!  We are celebrating the passion of the geek this Valentine’s Day and have paired up with Main Street Music and Johnny’s Destructo’s Hero Complex to bring you a very sweet, very geek Valentine.  All you have to do is SHOP & WIN!  (Bonus - impress any sweetheart with your wealth of knowledge about books, music, & comics as you browse our delightful selections.)

Check this out:  Make a $25+ purchase at any of our shops between February 1st and February 13th.  Every time you make a qualifying purchase you will be entered to win a deliriously wonderful Geek Basket or Geek Certificate at one of our shops.  EVERY TIME!  We will pick the winners on 2/14.

DON’T STOP THERE!  Share your love of everything geek on Main Street, by using our signature #geeklovemnyk on social media.  Follow this hashtag for more GEEK LOVE heading your way.

Our Favorite Things – Brittany

So much has happened this fall!  We not only started bringing in more new books – and ordering more new books for our customers – but we have acquired a delightful selection of gifts and stationery too! Just in time for the Holidays. Take a peak at what is in store – and the new things we adore that you can now find at the shop.

Bookseller Brittany shares 6 of her favorites – right here:

1) Spiced Pomegranate by Zoet Bathlatier – I love how unique and fragrant these candles are! They’re all so good, but I love the warmth and coziness of Spiced Pomegranate- perfect to burn while decorating your tree or baking cookies for the holidays. Added bonus, they’re made locally!


2) The Year of Cozy by Adrianna Adarme – This book is gorgeous (and would make an incredible gift for the creatively-inclined)! The photographs are beautiful and the recipes and crafts are fun and easy-to-do. Also – If you are not following Adrianna’s blog, A Cozy Kitchen, you should do so immediately.

year of cozy

3) Formulary 55 – Formulary 55 makes some of the loveliest smelling things. These are a few of my favorites right now:

  • Sea Salt & Lavender Bath Bomb – So fresh! I am addicted to this scent. Plus, if you are gifting and unsure about what someone may like, this one is very versatile and pleasant.
  • Madame Mysterio Soap – Sensual and delicate. These soaps make great stocking stuffers!
  • Balsam & Fir Candle – This candle makes you feel like you are walking through a forest. Calm and relaxing, this candle goes perfectly with a book and a warm blanket.

formulary 55

4) Modern Bronze Crescent Necklace – One-of-a-kind hand-shaped and hammered pieces made in Tennessee. I adore this entire collection but this necklace in particular resonates with me. Simple and elegant with a dash of witchiness, you need to see these in person!

modern bronze

5) Zulli Designs- Liz Zulli is an incredible local artist and jewelry maker that uses crystals, semi-precious stones, recycled, found and natural objects to create one-of-a-kind pieces.  From torched copper bracelets to pouches featuring her own photography, you are bound to find the perfect gift (or two or three!) from her collection at the shop. My pick: Amethyst Earrings.


6) House of Good Juju – Everything. Just everything. I love all of it. However, I am partial to the Spiral Bookcase customized scents. They are so fresh and inviting, I want to bathe in this stuff! Plus, they are pretty to look at.  

good juju


So many beautiful things to choose from.  Don’t forget that a stack of beautiful secondhand books is always a great gift!  We are happy to ship out-of-town, so just call 215-482-0704 or email if you see anything that strikes your fancy.




5 YEARS : The Party All About YOU!


She’s almost here!


Hello everyone!  You may not see me around in May or June.  Well – that’s because we are just about to have a baby!  Her official due date is May 7th, but she could be arriving any day now.  I just wanted to reach out and let you know just in case you were wondering where I’ve disappeared to!  For the next couple of months, I will be getting used to my new role as a mom.  I plan on returning to the store (with our new addition) in July.

Don’t worry, the shop will remain open!!  During the interim, my staff will be keeping the shop in tip-top shape and will be happy to assist you.  So, come on inside, get comfortable, and find the perfect book (or three).  I will miss you, but I will see you soon!


Nightbird by Calamity Rose Jung-Allen, Penn Alexander

Calamity Rose Jung-Allen, Penn Alexander


For two minutes and forty four seconds,

I watch the night, in its luminescence.

Heavy clouds twist, like so many dark ribbons,

Dark velvet punctured only by stars, clouds overridden.


Pudgy cats yowl in alleyways deserted,

Shadows confuse them, their pouncing thus thwarted.

A beer bottle crashes, from nowhere, it seems.

The echo dies out like a soft, faded dream.


I wish it was warmer, or that the wind held better.

The breeze whistled through my threadbare yarn sweater.

Shadows were approaching, completely unencumbered,

Fright started slightly in a pit in my stomach.


The time seems but ripe, almost tangible to pick it.

Ripe for all creatures to emerge from the thicket.

For ravens, wings glossy, and rabbits, fur soft.

For stray cats and dogs, their heads held aloft.


Though I feel alone in this fantasy now,

I see a strange animal along the ground.

Feathers of speckled grey, black and white.

It cocks and bobs its head, into the light.


It take careful steps, it’s orange eyes are wide.

A pigeon steps into the quiet moonlight.

And as I approach it, one finger extended,

It climbs on with pink claws, and upwards we ascended.


Shadows less menacing, moonlight less dim.

As on it clambered, tail fluffed, neck prim,

My cheeks were glowing with happiness.

A pigeon was exactly what I needed, no more or less.

Reflection by Dennis O’Leary, T/E Middle School

Dennis O’Leary, T/E Middle School


Eyes crusted with the dust of restless sleep

Mind still wandering in midnight’s sweet dreams

Body wanting the peace of bed to keep

But alarm demands wake by any noisy means

World comes to be, with the return of sight

Taking in the world and the shock that will follow

The shock of a mirror that will shed some light

A mirror in which your true self will finally show

My pupils rest on the flat and untarnished glass

Conscience waits on judgment the surface will make

Worried it will change my future and hurt my past

Lies we live on, but the truth none of us can take

Images start to form, and pictures take shape

Face of my own, but expression of another

Greed was being disguised by a dark black cape

Not used as a coat, but self it would cover

Clothes of conformity slithered down my chest

Soul being devoured by objects of earthly worth

Decency is loss and even mercy there is less

Eyes focused on the ground and how to gain the earth

This was not me I thought, not who I really was

Knowing myself is a quality I always pride in

Voices wore in my ear and one had the loudest buzz

Thinking I am better than this, and that this was a con

Trying to shatter the surface that broke my soul

Though the seal of other successful usage kept it strong

Shoving the mirror in my closet, cramming it full

Heart had been closed, saying the reflection was wrong

Walking away from this horrible, eye opening day

Moving on with my life trying to erase the image with success

Not knowing that only actions can change what the mirror says

Life going on, and it seemed with succeeding I was obsessed

World was horrible from that point and so forth

Mind was full of successful and hopeless dreams

Only wishing I had gone south instead of north

Wishing that I had listened to the mirror by any means

Confessions of a Not-So-Only Child by Lauren Harris, T/E Middle School

Lauren Harris, T/E Middle School

Confessions of a Not-So-Only Child

            Let the record show that I, Ivy Lee Miller, loved being an only child. I cherished my perfect family, with just my mom, dad, and me. I was happy about not having to share my room, my toys, and especially my parents’ love. Now, however, I am not content with these feelings as they no longer describe how I currently feel. This is the truth, the confessions of a not-so-only child.

It was a clear March morning in my peppy suburban home.  My lawn was its normal olive green, the sky was a lazy shade of blue, and the granite kitchen countertops had a spotless black shine. That’s what made that piece of paper so apparent. I hated to pry, but something so flagrantly out of place was too irresistible for me not to take a look.

The thing that was about to turn my perfect world on its head was an adoption confirmation letter. My parents had adopted a kid. I was too dizzy to keep reading. I sat myself at the breakfast bar, trying to think the situation through. “They’re replacing me,” immediately popped into my head. “They don’t care for my opinion. They’ll probably value this new kid’s ideas, though.”

My thoughts spiraled into a cycle of rejection and despair. Wasn’t I cute enough anymore? Didn’t my parents love me? Why didn’t they tell me? Did they think I wouldn’t notice? I looked at the letter. It seemed so innocent, so ignorant. It was like that blindingly bright piece of paper had no idea how much it could ruin my life.

Yet my conscience told me my parents meant to do the right thing. They wanted to do this, not just for them, but for me as well. What parent wants their child to be lonely? While my heart was warming up to the idea of not being alone, the voice in my head was preoccupied with this newcomer’s practical implications.

“Saturday mornings.” It said simply.

“What?” I replied.

“The junior soccer league has practices very early on Saturday mornings. Not to mention, you’ll have to cheer him on in the freezing cold every week for an hour. And he’ll use your bathroom to get clean afterwards. And he’ll want to watch his shows on the TV, and he’ll want to play with your old toys, and he’ll have everybody telling him how adorable he is. Did anyone say that to you when you were seven?”

At that point, I’d had enough. I set the letter on the table and waited for my parents to come down. The Lucky Charms I planned on eating for breakfast could wait.

The sound of two pairs of feet emanated from the stair case, a light rumble on the bare wood. Their faces were as bright as the kitchen’s stainless steel appliances until they saw me and the letter glaring at them.

“When did you plan on telling me?” I demanded.

“We were going to tell you over breakfast, sweetheart,” dad said. I could tell he wanted to smile at me, but held back. There wasn’t anything to smile about.

“I didn’t want to know the week before he arrived, dad. I wanted to know the minute you two decided to adopt another kid. When was that? A year ago? A month ago? Why wouldn’t you ask me if I was okay with another kid here?” I looked at them with hurt, wide-open eyes, trying to channel the pain and humiliation of not being good enough. Maybe if I opened my eyes wider, all the negativity clouding the present would leave, but it just wouldn’t.

“Sweetie,” my mother sighed, “we just wanted you to be happy. We thought you’d be excited to have someone to spend your time with.” Unlike my dad, my mom smiled.

“I’m perfectly fine with the idea of having a brother. I’m not, however, fine with you not telling me he’s coming in a week.”

After that, the next seven days were a blur of mismatched words, events, and emotions. I remember having a math test. The gravity of the events surrounding me made factoring seem trivial. I clawed my way out with a B, to the dismay of my A+ average. I discovered I didn’t really care that much, and I could see my perfect life at home start to crumble, too.

My parents’ marriage was fine. It was like a honey badger. Whether it was attacked by angry honey bees or bitten by bellicose cobras, my mom and dad’s marriage had a dose of magical honey badger anti-venom that kept them going. No, something much worse crumbled—my spare bedroom. It all started with that coat of midnight blue paint I saw when I got home from school. Then it was the weird boys’ furniture crowded around my room.  Although I was shocked, I didn’t say anything. Mom and dad probably mentioned they were going to take over my inner sanctum while I wasn’t listening.

With three days left until the big arrival, dinners weren’t as silent as one might expect. We talked about the normal things, like my school’s undefeated soccer season, grades, and TV, but with that fourth seat being filled in a few days, I went ahead and acknowledged the huge adopted elephant in the room.

“So what’s his name?” I asked.

They got the hint that it was okay to discuss the adoption, and my mom, delighted by my begrudging resignation, gushed, “It’s James. And guess what? He’s seven—just like Maddie’s little brother!”

At that point I fell silent. Maddie was my best friend, and I hadn’t told her yet. I couldn’t tell her now; she’d be more angry than if I didn’t bother to tell her at all.

Mom obviously sensed something was amiss, and decided to change the subject. “How was that math test you took last Tuesday?”


The next day on my way to English, I couldn’t tell Maddie. What was I going to say? “Hey Maddie, guess what? My parents adopted a kid named James and he’s coming today! I’m sorry I didn’t tell you; I just conveniently forgot until five seconds ago! Good luck in your science test next period!”

So we discussed the usual things—teachers, tests, homework, soccer, and the class trip to the Natural History Museum next month. Then, the awfulness of my predicament hit me. I had to tell her, or I never would.

I lost my chance. Maddie went home sick, and I didn’t have the heart to tell her via text. I kept my silence until our small four-seater car pulled up to the adoption agency. It looked awfully like a nursery school—with painted handprints covering the windows like tiles in a mosaic. When we walked inside, the main lobby looked sunny and cheerful and bright, nothing like how my life had been for the past week.

The real surprise came when a small freckled boy with hair as red as a ragdoll’s cheeks ran up to me and hugged me tightly around my knees. Mom and dad let out a noise halfway between a laugh and an “Awww…” I put on a happy façade while maintaining my pouty teenage interior. I still wasn’t completely comfortable with the idea of him having my spare room.

There was paperwork to sign, but I managed to entertain James at a small table with tons of Lego pieces. He taught me how to build a helicopter while asking me almost every single question that could be asked.

“What’s your favorite color?”

“Do you have a dog?”

“Why does everyone call you Ivy when your name’s Samantha?” (Yes, that is my real name.)

“If you could be an animal, what would you be?”

“Do you like soccer? I do. I LOOOOOOVE soccer. But I like ice cream more.”

This went on for about an hour or so, and I was warming up to him. That was until I realized he would be in the same class as Harry, Maddie’s seven-year-old brother. I couldn’t keep up the charade for long; she’d find out sooner or later. On the ride back home, James wouldn’t stop talking. He couldn’t wait to start school, to have a sister, a mommy, and a daddy, and to get his own room and a billion other things.

My friends and I used to talk about siblings. I always told them I wanted a little brother or sister as being an only child is a lonely existence. They always pummeled me with complaints of my lunacy. A brother? A little monster that draws on the walls and steals your stuff? You want one of those? Or a sister? The little princess who manages to exceed you in every area of measurable human performance, including dance, sport, school, and cuteness? You’re kidding, right? I always thought they were exaggerating. Sure, maybe siblings could be a bit taxing, but they couldn’t be that bad, could they? I was dead wrong.

My fantasy of having both a playmate and personal confidante was blown to pieces by this little loud-mouth. Of course my guyfriends loved him. They only had to spend an hour playing videogames with him. They didn’t have to watch movies with him about little animated characters and their escapades. They didn’t have to help him with the math they haven’t done in six years. They didn’t have to teach him how to draw, despite the fact he was hopeless at it.

Every single one of my girlfriends thought he was sooo cute. Easy to say when he doesn’t take your DS or play with your brand-new soccer ball, getting it all muddy. Maddie didn’t even care that I didn’t tell her. “He’s SO CUTE!” she squealed when I introduced him. That hypocrite.

The middle school I went to let us out half an hour earlier than the elementary school that James attended, so I could walk home with him. Our house was (and still is) twenty minutes away from his school, so I was always able to talk to him about his day. That day, however, as soon as we were about five minutes into our walk, James burst into tears.

“THEY HATE ME!” he wailed, sobbing into his paint-stained long sleeve shirt. I didn’t have much experience with calming down distraught seven-year-olds, but I managed to give it my best shot.

“What makes you say that?” I asked, scooping him up into my arms as I carried him down the winding road to our house.

“I-CAN’T-RIDE-A-A-BIIIKE!!!” he sobbed into my shoulder.

“Neither can the kids in your class.” I told him, trying to wipe away the salty tears flooding from his eyes.

“Yes they can! Mrs. Johnson asked who could, and they all raised their hands, except me.”

It was good to see he was calming down; at least I could understand him. “You can’t hate someone for not being able to ride a bike, James.” I tried to explain, but James wasn’t satisfied.

“I’m adopted, too! My parents didn’t want me and now I can’t ride a bike, either.”  He was upset, but at least he wasn’t crying as much.  I knew what I had to do.

“Don’t say that, James! You might not get it now, but they only wanted what was best for you! I’ll teach you how to ride your bike. How does that sound?” He smiled weakly and nodded at me, and I carried him all the way home.

After I’d helped him with his homework, we went outside and I lifted him onto his new, blue bike. His eyes lit up as I showed him how to strap on his helmet. I pushed him up and down the driveway, and eventually managed to raise the training wheels. He began to pedal on his own, and despite some close calls, he never fell off. After dinner, he wanted to ride to me in a straight line. Then he’d “officially” know how to ride a bike. I was getting tired of teaching him how to pedal and brake, but I agreed.

He hopped on his bike with his helmet and safety pads, mentally preparing himself for the greatest achievement in his life since he learned how to zip up his coat.  Pedaling with all his might, the most determined seven-year-old I’ve ever seen came straight toward me. Sure, he wobbled a bit, but you couldn’t tell if you were watching the grin on his face.

As he braked like a pro, I rushed over and gave him a hug. He grabbed me around my knees like the first time I met him, and said to me, “I love you Ivy!”

“I love you too James,” I whispered, as I took him to his room. “Goodnight!”

Before he closed his door, James said, “I love having a sister.”

That was when I realized that I loved having a brother.