“If you are literate, this is a dangerous place,” Jerry Ehrlich explains.
While exploring Broadway, I screamed out to my husband to absolutely stop the car, make a U-turn, and then make an illegal left — do whatever it takes! I had discovered an extremely unusual sight for 2015: A BOOKSTORE.
Not only was it a bottom floor full of books stacked from floor to ceiling, but it was also POSTMODERN. Inside, owner Jerry Ehrlich welcomed me with a tour of his collection. Originally from western Nebraska, he moved to Los Angeles with his parents as a young boy. In 2001 he quit his job at Thrivent Financial Services, which he had held for fifteen years, and moved to the South Bay to become a writer.
Five years ago, he decided to establish the Postmodern Bookstore right here in Chula Vista on the bottom floor of the house that he leases. He lives on the top floor.
“I consider this, for the liberal arts in Western Society anyway, as the prime bookstore in San Diego County. Let me give you an example,” Ehrlich says.
He then gave me a comprehensive tour of his collection. He has language books, archaeology, classics from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. From there the books turn to shelves of classic literature: Austen, Brecht, Balzac and Capote. Angelou, Adrienne Rich and Marco Polo.
Ehrlich explains, “A lot of them have never been purchased before because I bought them, so in a sense they are new.”
Of German descent and having taken German four years in college, Ehrlich has three hundred books in German. “Because of the war against German culture in this past century, a lot of great books were simply never translated into English.”
He also has a large Spanish language collection, which he says is the largest secular Spanish book selection around, since all the other bookstores went out of business.
His books cover the floor and sprawl out everywhere. There’s even a back room, which is shared not only by books, but by twenty cats, many of them stray. “They have a home here and they can eat here. I can also take care of their minor infections.”
The back room houses philosophy, psychology, sociology and self-help.
It goes without saying that Ehrlich also has an animal book section that includes a lot about cats.
He also has a record player and LP’s. If customers see one they like, Ehrlich puts it on so they can hear it. Then he checks on Amazon and he matches or beats the price.
If that weren’t enough, Ehrlich has also self-published many of his own books. As he explains, he is a great author, but in a very narrow area of early philosophy and theology.
Once a Lutheran minister, Ehrlich received a Ph.D. from the University of Missouri at Columbia in Greco-Roman Classical Culture. Since his retirement, he has been prolific. He has written Plato’s Gift to Christianity: The Preparation for and Making of the Christian Faith (2001); Building a Life by Carpenter Jesus (2003); The Joy of Embracing God: Humanity’s Longing for the Eternal (2005); The Platonic Bible: the Source of all Western Spirituality (2007), his sole novel, Platonic Island (2009), and his latest book, The Profound Charm of Plato (2012).
He explains that he wants people to break down their mental barriers and open up to let the world’s great people talk to you. Here he is in his own words:
Address: 1080 Broadway, Chula Vista, CA 91911