TEANECK, N.J. — Stepping inside Brier Rose Books in Teaneck is a complete sensory experience.
Floor-to-ceiling bookshelves and narrow walkways make you feel as if you are standing inside a cave. The 20,000 second-hand books that fill those shelves give off a rich earthy smell.
Owner Howard Rose calls this "nostalgic ambiance."
"When you walk in here you are transported to a different place and time," said Rose, who sits in the center of the cave surrounded by the books he has spent his 67 years of life collecting.
"This is my retreat from the rest of the world," he told Daily Voice.
The retired college administrator opened Brier Rose Books on Cedar Lane Avenue in Teaneck 18 years ago in order to be able to do exactly what he wanted to do --collect and read books.
"Good reading is a good pastime. Great reading is a great pastime," Rose said.
The Bronx native picked up books as a young boy and says he has never really put them down since.
"In fifth grade my teacher had a bookcase by the front door to the class and although it pleased her that I read every book on it, it pleased me a lot more," Rose said.
While Rose has a personal affinity for literature on the American Revolution and New York City history, Brier Rose Books is filled with all types of worldly knowledge, divided into broad categories.
There's sections for biographies, children's classics, philosophy, cooking, poetry, architecture, gambling, automobiles, mysticism, foreign language, science and nature, to name a few.
The types of books also vary widely, from paperback pocket books to large leatherbound novels.
"I’m always looking for the book I have not yet met to add to my collection," Rose said. "Anywhere you have seen a book I have been there more often than not."
Rose has no plans to expand his business (he says the easiest way for a bookstore to make a million dollars is to start out with two million).
He is happy to pass the time reading and selling from his collection.
"My favorite thing about this place is just being here," Rose said. "And I think others are pleasantly surprised that a place like this exists."