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Teacher pushes love of books

By Justin Boron

For Terry Harlin, the walls of dusty paperbacks stacked in the Riverdale Book Nook are looking glasses into the undercurrent of secrets that trickle below the surface of everyday interaction.

The bookstore manager and high school history teacher said the splendor of books lies in their power to translate the unexposed in his customers, filling in the implicit gaps in their personality.

"Books open up people in a way that no other activity does.

"You really get insight into a person's character by what they read," Harlin said. "Sometimes they shatter stereotypes and allow you to see a different dimension of that person."

Harlin's romantic affinity for what he believes to be bound purveyors of the human psyche started when he was 10 years old.

Obsessed with comic books, he glued himself to the spine of the comic world in Atlanta at the time, the Book Nook on Clairmont Road.

Eventually, he said his adhesive relationship with the store got him a job.

Harlin said the store's owner Alex Nunan, a history teacher, fed his zeal for books with inspiration that led him to become a history teacher as well.

Now, Harlin manages the Book Nook in Riverdale and has turned the store from its unprofitable past, said Allison Phillips, the store's marketing director.

The declining neighborhood had dampened the store's success, but Harlin has dropped prices, increasing sales, and rejuvenated the once forlorn shop, Phillips said.

Enthusiasm for the store has grown in the community as customers can be seen waiting at the door for it to open in the morning.

Recently, H. Lee stared through the glass just before 10 a.m., hoping that when the store opened he would find this week's shipment of DC comics on the bookrack.

Phillips also is a component of the store's renaissance, being hired to coordinate reading programs with surrounding schools like Riverdale Elementary, where the store has donated money and books for its Character of Education Program.

Beyond comics, the store offers an extensive selection of paperback fiction, DVDs, tapes, and CDs in its 2,500 square-foot space on Church Street, Harlin said.

The store's eclectic mix of merchandise combines with variety of customer types to create an atmosphere that's often stranger than fiction, he said.

"We have a real interesting mix of people of all different shapes and sizes," Harlin said.

Harlin said he hopes to use the store's diversity to build readership, something he thinks is lacking in the community right now.

"One of the biggest problems in society is an inability to appreciate reading," he said.

"Everyday People" is a regular feature of the news Daily and is published every Friday. If you know a good candidate for this feature, send the information to bpaslay@news-daily.com .