About The Haunted Bookshop

Established in 1978, The Haunted Bookshop moved to its current location in Northside Iowa City in December 2013.

We carry over 40,000 titles in more than 80 different sections ranging from Iowa interest to poetry, children's books to sociology, travelogues to history and more. We provide a variety of other services as well, including book searches, minor book repairs, gift recommendation, space for community groups to meet, writing consultation, packing and shipping, sewing advice, tea if the kettle's on....

The Cats

The Starlet

is a shorthaired tabby/peach calico mix who joined us in July 2006. She is gentle, remarkably intelligent, occasionally chatty, and loves music for solo piano, particularly Satie and Chopin.

Nothing pleases her better than being admired. She will sometimes jump up and sit with a quiet reader in one of the armchairs, and she loves being rubbed behind the ears. (We ask that you respect her desire not to be picked up.) She is a little shy, especially around children, but she also likes to play with crumpled paper balls, which she usually bats to left field.

Her birthday is observed on each anniversary of 7 November 2004. Her name is taken from a Sindarin word meaning "sorrow" because she lost a kitten at a young age. Since joining us at the bookshop, though, her saddest gazes have been reserved for empty treat dishes and departing ear-scratchers.

Logan picked us out at the animal shelter. He is very affectionate and sometimes startles people by rubbing up against their legs without warning - he likes everybody - but if there are any other youngsters in the shop, he wants to gallop with them from one toy to the next.

A born stunt artist, he also likes to show off for company by racing across the tops of bookcases or by leaping to catch a paper ball in his mouth. He also poses if he hears a camera click.

Logan's favorite place to be rubbed is under his chin. (He, like Nierme, would rather that you did not touch his belly.)

Logan was born on 3 October 2006. The fact that he shares a name with Marvel Comics hero The Wolverine is not a coincidence.

Dramatis Personae

Nialle Sylvan bought the Haunted Bookshop 9 September 2004 and purchased Northside Book Market in 2008 and The Bookery in 2010. She still owes several thousand cookies to the volunteers who helped merge the three stores and move them to Gilbert Street in 2013.

The putative ghost of the shop, a pale figure in a white robe seen after dark, is actually just the proprietor working late. She collects meteorology and neurology information, Roman history anecdotes, archetypes, and Spinozan metaphysics variants.

Ali Geraets is a graduate of the University of Iowa, holding a BA in religious studies. Ali can be found behind the counter at the bookshop most days during the week, cleaning books, cracking jokes and unleashing useless trivia upon the unsuspecting masses. She is often accompanied by two puppets for which she has great affinity: Kolya, the ferret, and Daniel, the little lion.

Brendan Sherry
started at the Haunted Bookshop in the summer of 2012. He has worked in the manufacturing, food service, and hospitality industries, but likes it here more.

Luke Allen
is a student at Iowa City high school. He worked at the Northside Book Market starting at age 12 from 2004 to 2008 and at the Haunted Bookshop starting in 2009. Contrary to popular belief, he was not named after the biblical figure, but in fact after Luke Skywalker, prompting many an original thinker to proclaim themself his father.

Abbie Romano visited the store a lot when she was little, but in time, she inherited the crown of mylar and became the princess regnant of book cleaning and repairs. When you see books with lovely archival sleeves over the dust jackets, that's her work. Also she made the store's Weasley clock, which you can check to see whether staff members are at dinner, drinking coffee, reading bad blurbs, or in mortal peril.


Anna Hurley began work with the bookshop in the fall of 2008, including the move to its current location, and became chief engineer and master of event co-coordination. She moved away in 2012 but, for all intents and purposes, remains family.

Sydney Smith came in during a rainstorm, stayed to volunteer, and eventually started getting paid. Some of the things she did included shelving books, helping people find books, and puppeteering. She was often to be found half-buried in puppets, a process we liked to call "checking inventory," and while we shall love and admire her anywhere she goes and whatever she does, we miss her an awful lot.

Jon Chown is the world's greatest literary genius. In his short twenty-six years, he has held jobs as a boxer, fighter pilot, cage fighter, dancer and snake trainer. He is widely reputed to have been turned down as an astronaut, because engineers could not design a capsule to contain his irrepressible charm. His family was discovered in an Egyptian tomb in the 1860s, and since then, they have spent their time becoming assimilated into the modern world, teaching in universities and breeding rancors on the family farm. His life expectancy is measured in ice ages. He is currently missing in the wilds of Oceania.
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