Small businesses have it rough in bad weather. And here in Boston, its not just the snow, but how this record-setting snow is impacting our abilities to walk, drive, or take public transit, even days after the snow has fallen! So, when the sidewalks are cleared and the T is running again, visit your local bookstore and get something to keep you entertained during the next bout of bad weather, which is surely coming our way. Here are some of my favorites.
My favorite thing about Brookline Booksmith is the tables you get to before reaching the shelves. Filled with recent best-sellers, oldies but goodies at discounted prices, and staff recommendations, you could probably spend an hour just turning over the books on these tables. Then there are the shelves of gorgeous cookbooks near the front, the cute kids’ section in the back, and the used book cellar downstairs, where they host author events. I used to frequently meet friends in Coolidge Corner to go to Regale Beagle, Otto, or the Coolidge Corner Theater and inevitably, who ever got there first would wait it out in Brookline Booksmith. I don’t think anyone ever left without buying something.
Visit Brookline Booksmith at 279 Harvard St. (Coolidge Corner) in Brookline, MA.
Porter Square Books
Porter Square Books is jam-packed with stuff, from Cafe Zing up front to really great selections of cookbooks, travel books, stationery, kids books, mysteries, poetry, historical fiction, and best-sellers. It always feels bustling but never crowded. I bought a bunch of postcards there in December to serve as thank you notes, and I was able to get one for every personality. Vintage Red Sox illustrations for my aunts and M’s parents, modern minimalist drawings of Somerville’s porches for my grandmother and brother who live out-of-state, and one featuring Salvador Dali’s Girl at Window for my parents.
Last spring, I attended a fundraiser they hosted for 826 Boston, featuring local author readings, literary jeopardy, and free wine.
Visit Porter Square Books at 25 White Street in Cambridge, MA.
Harvard Book Store
Harvard Book Store touts itself as Harvard Square’s independent bookseller since 1932. Even just walking buy the store, you get a sense of the store’s many resources. Their window displays have me making reading lists in my head each time I see them, the staff is friendly and helpful, and you could blissfully spend an afternoon wandering their shelves. They have amazing and wide-ranging events too–I saw Amy Poehler speak last spring, and I walked by the line, wrapping around the building, for Hillary Clinton and kicked myself for not getting tickets.
Over Christmas, I ordered several books from them and the process couldn’t have been easier. They didn’t have one of the books I wanted–it was a decades old book that had originally been printed in another country. I was able to place my order and pay for everything on their website, they located and ordered the tricky book for me, and a week and a half later, I stopped in the store and picked up the books without having to wait in line or search the store. Of course, browsing is the best, but when Christmas shopping, you just want to be in and out!
Oh, and their instagram is awesome.
Visit Harvard Book Store at 1256 Massachusetts Avenue in Cambridge, MA.
Trident Booksellers and Cafe
At Trident you can get brunch and books. What could be better?
In 2013, a friend and I walked to Trident to get copies of Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Lowland on the day that it came out. We were so excited to have it that I even splurged on a hard copy. A few days later, we found out that Brookline Booksmith was selling a limited number of hard copies in conjunction with tickets to see Lahiri speak. We both ended up splurging on a second hard copy and saw Lahiri not long after. Worth it!
Visit Trident at 338 Newbury Street in Boston, MA