promised, here are suggestions from readers and others for good bookstores to
visit, this time in Massachusetts and Connecticut. There’s quite a range among
these independents—some are cozy and specialized while others are bigger and
well-established among book collectors and fans. Quite often, they have cafés,
or are next door to one.
a gander, and if you’re nearby, make it a point to stop in. Independent
bookstores need your support. Too often, in following up someone’s tip, I find
a bookstore already out of business. Most of the following shops have websites,
to help you find what you’re seeking.
Willow Books & Café at 279 Great Road (Route 2A) is a terrific bookstore at
a small strip mall. There’s a good-size collection of books and a café with
sandwiches and several different coffee roasts. Great place to meet a friend or
take a child.
granddaddy of Worcester area indies, Tatnuck Bookseller, lives and breathes now
at the Westborough Shopping Center, Route 9 and Lyman Street. Check
www.tatnuck.com for details, as this is a big, lively store and café, with much
activity. The store has added free wi-fi, a plus for writers and other computer
explore a used books mecca, try The Book Bear at 80 West Main St. in West
Brookfield (Route 9, just west of town center). This store has about 5,000
kids’ books and 100,000 more for adults; used, rare and out-of-print books are
bought, traded and sold. The store is open seven days a week, from 10 a.m. to 6
p.m. There’s no café, but Dunkin’ Donuts is next door. Call (508) 867-8705 for
Shire Book Shop, at 305 Union St., Franklin, is open from 10 to 5 Tuesday
through Saturday and noon to 5 on Sunday. Since it’s located in a
turn-of-the-century mill building, store owners try to keep its atmosphere as
old timey as possible. There are reading areas where one may enjoy a cup of
complimentary tea while browsing the store’s 100,000-plus group of collectible
and used books. The store also offers book repair service.
While you’re in town, check out Franklin Public Library (1778), considered the
nation’s oldest. It houses a collection of Ben Franklin’s own books.
always “meant” to stop at the Montague Bookmill, 440 Greenfield Road, Montague,
which boasts of itself: “Books you don’t need, in a place you can’t find.” (Gotta
love that.) Montague is another mill store—this one a sawmill—located in a
crafty location; check out the arts center, music and movies, and the Lady
Killigrew Café. It’s a beautiful drive any time of year, but check the website
for directions, as it is a bit hard to find otherwise (next time, I will trust
fan Richard Wright (www.richard-wright.blogspot.com) contacted
me to say he writes about his favorite independent bookstores around New
England at his blog—a good place to check before traveling. He’s also the
author of “A Vacationer’s Guide to Rural New England Bookstores.” In its
January issue, Yankee magazine invited Wright to list his favorite five
bookstores, which he wouldn’t do without the proviso that he be allowed to
include 10 runners-up.
Ostrokolowicz wrote in about the Booklovers’ Gourmet in Webster, owned by Deb
Horan. Nearly 20 years old, says Ostrokolowicz, “it’s much more than a
bookstore.” Judith Ferrara and John Gaumond of Worcester also recommended the
shop, calling it “a true-blue arts and community-oriented bookstore—with great
coffees too!” Check www.er3.com/book for
details. Its book group meets at 6:30 Wednesday (July 31) to discuss “The Good
Sisters” by Joyce Maynard. There is a lot going on, relating to books and
living. Hours are listed at www.bookloversgourmet.com.
Brenner-Fricke, a former associate at the T&G—also an avid reader—sent in a
roundup of some Connecticut favorites, since she hails from that state.
you’re looking for quirky, definitely The Book Barn in Niantic. It’s … hard to
describe,” says Amy. The set-up is amazing—500,000 books in three locations.
“The main location is a sprawling area of barns and sheds and lean-tos, all of
which have books stashed in them,” she said. “The various sheds and barns are
Main Barn (history, military, anthropology, children's books,
politics, firefighting, espionage, erotica, true crime, art, etc.); The Annex
(fiction); Hades (vampires, paranormal romances, chick lit, and
the beginning of the alphabetic section of mysteries and thrillers); The Haunted Bookshop
(mysteries and thrillers); The Last Page (agriculture,
animal sciences, biology and genetics, canoeing/kayaking, ecology and
conservationism, firearms, gardening, geology, nature, natural
history/sciences, outdoors, sports, weather and climate, zoology); and Ellis Island
(otherwise known as the ‘Book Immigration’ spot, where the newest arrivals
live until they are sorted and stocked in their appropriate building).” With
13 cats wandering around, and a goat, the place qualifies as folksy. By the
way, complimentary beverages and snacks are available. And remember: there are
two more locations down the street. (www.bookbarnniantic.com)
also lists these places, defined as “less quirky and perhaps more traditional”:
Bank Square Books in downtown Mystic, with new books, literary journals and an
author luncheon series;
* Monte Cristo Bookshop in the downtown waterfront district of New London,
which opened in December after conducting a social media funding campaign. Here’s
an interesting note: James O’Neill funded the building in 1910—he was the
father of playwright Eugene O’Neill. He also portrayed the “Count” over 6,000
times in theaters around the world. Cool connection.
* RJ Julia Booksellers, 768 Boston Post Road in Madison, has a very active
series of author visits throughout the year and adjoins an independent café
full of sinfully rich goodies.
* Breakwater Books, 81 Whitfield St., Guilford, offers bestsellers as well as
old favorites. Its website lists staff picks.
“Read It and Reap” is published the last Sunday of each month in the Worcester, Mass. Telegram & Gazette. Write me at firstname.lastname@example.org with
ideas, comments or questions.