The sunny reading room at Selkie Books.  Feature Image: Selkie Books sign created by T. Ally Hickman. Photos by Marta Kumer.

An intriguing new sign has appeared at 6202 Rock Hall Road (Md Rte. 20).  It portrays a Selkie, a Celtic figure from folklore, who is announcing your arrival at Selkie Books of Rock Hall.

Upon crossing the threshold of this cozy retreat you immediately relax and are captivated by not only an amazing array of old and new books (all organized by subject,) but also a tantalizing collection of unique objects, also for sale.

Owner Marta Kumer had been visiting Rock Hall for many years and felt at home.  She had created the popular Pyewacket Books of Fells Point in Baltimore and decided to bring her concept to Rock Hall.  It’s about a love for books and making the wide world of the written word available, but beyond that, it is for the community itself–to be able to offer readers, writers, artists, collectors, historians an opportunity to engage with each other.

To make that possible, she is converting the cottage that is onsite, called “Undine Cottage,” into a setting for literary and poetry readings, shows of local artists’ works, round-table discussions and gatherings to delve into Kent County history.  Undine is another water nymph from mythology.

Selkie Book’s bookmark is a watercolor created by artist Joyce Teat of Chestertown. Learn more about by visiting Art by Joyce Teat.

A thoughtful entrepreneur, Kumer recently sent out a notice to parents and grandparents inviting them to bring their “little ones” in to “read awhile” from “Selkie’s collection.”  For that interlude, she provides comfortable chairs–also essential for a good browse.

If you are looking for a particular volume, she offers a searching service. She turned up a book that I have been looking for and I found her special ordering helpful.

“I can’t remember not loving books.  It runs in the family.  I set up my first lending library when I was 7 or 8 years old,” reflected Kumer.  “My father, grandfather and great grandfather were reputed to have read every book in a western Ohio library. ”

When asked about her favorite kinds of books, without hesitation she replied:  “histories, mysteries, and those on cultural anthropology and cooking.”

Looking around the full-to-brimming-over bookshelves, I thought that those subjects are certain to be found there plus every other subject imaginable, right there on the Old Post Road. Marta makes it easy and enjoyable to follow her byword:  “Be enchanted, be transformed, fall under the spell of a Selkie Book…..”

Selkie Books hours are Wednesday through Sunday, Noon to 5. Monday and Tuesday are By Appointment Only or “Catch as Catch Can,” which means she may be working in the bookshop or “Undine Cottage” and would be happy to open Selkie Books for you. You can contact the shop by calling 443-496-6135 or 480-430-4692 or send Marta an email. Stay in touch with bookstore activity by visiting here.

Kate Meehan lives in Chestertown where she researches and writes about the history of garden ornaments and furnishings, and about all things Kent County.

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