Edenesque Walnut Hills is the right location and right choice for a bookstore for the ages

Growing up in Hamilton, Ohio as the eldest of five children, Bobby Minelli quickly developed a passion for books instilled in his family by their educator father, Dan.

 “We’re a household of books,” his father would tell the five kids, all of whom became devoted to reading. Thus, was planted the seed that decades later has culminated in fulfilling Bobby’s dream of creating a space in Cincinnati that honors his love of books. In 2021 Bobby opened Household Books, a bookstore and literary venue in Walnut Hills that focuses on culture, engagement, and community outreach.  

After graduating from Cincinnati’s St. Xavier High School, Bobby headed for the big city of Chicago, studying creative writing at Loyola University.  His creativity knew no bounds as he racked up diverse experiences, including working for the musical Blue Man Group, playing guitar for Chicago’s stand-up scene, publishing twelve literary horror stories, working with storefront theaters, and starting a brewery, Pipeworks Brewing Company, with his college bandmates. He also tutored and taught creative writing at 826CHI; a nonprofit geared towards Chicago youth. In 2015, after writing cultural criticism and pop music reviews, he moved to Los Angeles to pursue writing a screenplay about the band, The Eagles.

His first love was always books, and he says he spent most of his free time in local Los Angeles bookstores. His personal book collection was overflowing, and he started to consider building a home for his books and founding his own creative and tutoring center.

After years in Los Angeles, Bobby changed gears, feeling drawn to investing his time in a middle-sized metropolis. Cincinnati continued to be on his mind – he says he continually praised his hometown to others as a cultured, Edenesque, and historically relevant place. After so many years away, Bobby was also feeling the need to once more be near family.

In 2018 he returned to Cincinnati. “It’s been a joy to rediscover our city, to bring what I had learned back here,” he proclaims, “and I couldn’t be happier.”

At first, Bobby honed his book selling skills in Cincinnati with a position as Social Media Director of the Friends of the Public Library’s Used Bookstore at the Warehouse and set up an impromptu pop-up bookshop/arthouse called The Garage after the pandemic hit.

In 2021, with the help of the Walnut Hills Redevelopment Foundation, Bobby located the space that would become home to Household Books. He loves the “metropolitan energy” that this location on Gilbert Avenue provides.
“The vitality, connectivity, and diversity of Walnut Hills made it just the right choice,” notes Bobby Minelli, Household Books founder.

The mission of Household Books is to create a space as a bookstore and literary focus with the goal of enriching Cincinnati “by spreading the joy of the culture of the book.”

“Books are like a fork,” Bobby says, indicating that this ingenious utensil is in no need of reinvention. Bookstores are equally perfect, he avows, with no need for the concept to be remade. He applauds the bookstore as a revered “third place” separate from one’s two usual social environments of home (first place) and work (second place).

Bobby stocks Household Books with supreme intentionality, ranging from how items are arranged to what materials he carries in the store and even to such details as which font he uses for the Household Books logo (the elegant and somewhat old fashioned Globe font).

The store offers a comfortable sofa and chairs for browsing through books as well as church pews which can be arranged for viewing the Tiny Desk concerts offered in the main room. Such community-pleasing events as evenings of chamber music and hot yoga sessions will take place in the shop. The welcoming children’s area houses a small performance space and stage for youth-centric events.  Books featuring African American history and literature are kept near the front and facing the door for optimal accessibility.

Classic art books are purposefully placed near the vintage clothes section, with vintage Levi’s jeans and other hip clothing sold as emblems of a youth culture. Bobby curates the vintage clothing in conjunction with Take Care Clothing’s Caroline Eyer, who specializes in women’s vintage. Other offerings include a sizeable record collection area, candles made by a Michigan Native American candlemaker, a Harry Potter area, and notebooks sewn by a Navajo seamstress.

An iconic literature section offers up such classic authors as Kurt Vonnegut and Lawrence Ferlinghetti. The literary T-shirts that adorn the walls and are for sale are equally intentional and artistic, emblazoned with engaging catchphrases such as “Romantic Outlaws,” “Rock N Roll Tragedy,” and “Literary Horror."

The window of Household Books displays a simple sign using the intentionally-selected elegant and somewhat old fashioned Globe font.A particular point of pride for Bobby is the shop’s collection of high-end Globe-Wernicke bookcases once made in Norwood, Ohio and honoring Cincinnati’s 19th and 20th century industrial history.

A project in the works for the store is to hold quarterly Household Book fairs, hosted in conjunction with local nonprofits and literacy awareness patrons and offering students an opportunity to shop for free. The fairs will celebrate reading and book culture and encourage new groups of readers to be excited by “the infinite possibility that lies in books.”  

Starting in the summer, the shop will offer rental space for special private events. Also planned in the future are literary karaoke events with customers reading short passages; art shows in the basement gallery including a rotating group of artists in exhibits dubbed “Household Features”; a once a month “Houseguest” comedy and variety show; poetry readings; music videos to be shot at the store; and a house band. In addition, Bobby and a few other musicians will present a summer music series starting in June entitled “House Party.”

Bobby calls his venture a “long-term pop-up shop” while he ensures that it will be sustainable. A GoFundMe page has been set up to help with keeping the store afloat in this critical stage.

Location:  2533 Gilbert Avenue in Walnut Hills
  • Wednesday and Thursday, 12:00pm – 6:00pm
  • Friday, 12:00pm – 8:00pm
  • Saturday 10:00am – 8:00pm
  • Sunday 10:00am – 5:00pm
For more information, call the shop at 513-349-4573 or email Bobby at [email protected].

Interested readers can become involved with Household Books in a variety of ways, including becoming a member of the store, donating books, art, or even an old bookcase ([email protected]), attending one of the many events planned at the shop, or just dropping by for coffee and browsing.
Additional details can be found at Household Books.
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Read more articles by Connie Springer.

Connie Springer is a publicist, writer, photographer, and watercolorist. View her work at her website and portfolio.