M R is situated on the manically busy Punjagutta crossroads, right next to the the infamous haleem
stall which surfaces once a year, its bright banner proclaiming reassuringly that all the dishes are "100% Pure Ghee, 100% Pure Goat".
But the crammed little 'Books Exhibition' has clientele very different from the one its illustrious neighbour, Y2K Biryani, enjoys. M R is the place for dewy-eyed readers of Mills & Boons, avid followers of bestseller lists, design professionals and alchemists of the kitchen. The only common thread that binds them is that they all love bagging a good deal. And, for fiction aficionados, M R
promises a continual system of good deals.
M R's most popular section, the library, consists of at least a thousand books at any given point. Alistair MacLean, Stephen King, Sidney Sheldon, Jackie Collins, and prince of smut, Harold Robbins, all find their place here. The theme is unabashedly thrashy for the most part, and recommended reading on train journeys.
M R lets you buy these books and return them when you're done, for another book from the section. And you're only 20 bucks the poorer for it. A great idea for summer holidays. M R also has a decent collection of Hardy Boys, Famous Five and Perry Mason, for children.
If you're interested in slightly off-beat books, or more contemporary works, cross your fingers and hope it's your lucky day. Although it's not the norm, treasures like a hardbound copy of Zadie Smith's Autograph Man and Jonathan Franzen's Corrections have been known to show up here much before they did at any city bookstore.
The titles are arranged haphazardly, but there are a few broad categories like spirituality, philosophy, classics, management and self-help. There's not much room for haggling, but you'll find some excellent bargains on books from the Lonely Planet series, design compilations and style catalogues (Getty, Benetton), beautifully illustrated cook-books, and a small but mint-condition collection of titles on films, photography and cinematography.
Apart from second-hand books, M R also sells new prints at a discount (minimum 10%). This is the place to buy your Oxford dictionary, alphabetical reference guides and the complete, bulky edition of Roget's Thesaurus. No match for its parent outlet in Abids, the Sunday books bazar
or Best Books
, M R Punjagutta is still worth a visit for those times when you want a good buy this side of town and are feeling particularly lucky.