A Review of Rodgers Book Barn

A Review of Rodgers Book Barn

467 Rodman Road, Hillsdale, NY

It took us a while to weave through the countryside of Columbia County, backtracking down a few wrong turns on dirt roads, but at long last, we stopped in front of the unassuming wood barn along the edge of the road with a sign out front reading Rogers Book Barn. The sign included different summer and winter hours, but it’s a solid bet to be open on a Saturday afternoon no matter what time of year you arrive. And I’m very thankful they were open, because this shop wasn’t just worth the drive, it was a delight to explore.

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A Review of Inquiring Minds Bookstore & Cafe

A Review of Inquiring Minds Bookstore & Cafe

200 Main Street, Saugerties, NY (I have also seen the address listed as 68 and 65 Partition Street)

This shop more than any other has come up as a prime recommendation by most locals I talk to, so I was happy to finally drop in on a rainy weekend this winter. Located on a busy corner in downtown Saugerties, NY (which has a lot more going for it than I expected), Inquiring Minds Bookstore falls into what I’ve come to think of as the “Ideal” type of bookshop. Not only are they an excellent supplier of books, but they feel like the kind of community bookstore that also serves as the social hub of town, and that’s how a shop can go from great to magical.

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A Review of Half Moon Books

A Review of Half Moon Books

35 N. Front Street, Kingston, NY

I stopped into this curious little shop at the end of a long day of browsing, and even though I was getting tired after trekking through the rain and wind, this shop still surprised me with their eclectic selection and the deep cuts they had hidden within. And the books were organized in interesting ways too, like the excellent cultural- and science-focused section called “smart, but not exhausting.” They really make good use of their space and there’s a lot more happening inside than you may expect at first glance. They have a thrift shop too, so if you go I assure you that you’ll be in for a pretty diverse mix of topics and editions.

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A Review of Three Lives & Company

A Review of Three Lives & Company

154 W 10th Street, New York, NY

This corner shop has been selling new hardcovers and paperbacks to locals since the late 1960s, and I only stumbled across it by accident while wandering Greenwich Village looking for a different shop on my “To Review” list. I’m happy to have made the discovery, because while it’s not a large shop, it is certainly packed with an excellent selection of new books, classic titles, and unique authors. And readers as well. That was something they had plenty of.

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A Review of Our Bookshop

A Review of Our Bookshop

97 Partition Street, Saugerties, NY

I drove to Saugerties on a cold, rainy Saturday to visit the Inquiring Minds Bookshop (which I will review in another post) when I saw this shop located just down the same street, not far from where I parked. I’ll never turn down a two-for-one bookshop hunting trip, and I was not disappointed by what I found. What Our Bookshop may lack in the latest bestsellers, they more than make up for in vintage and unique titles and excellent deals on used books, records, and comics.

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A Review of Rough Draft Bar & Books

A Review of Rough Draft Bar & Books

82 John Street, Kingston, NY

I’ve been proud to shine a spotlight on a handful of bookshop / bar combinations in the past, and even a couple wine shop and bookseller combos too, but when it comes to putting a pint, a bite, and a book in front of a casual browser, Rough Draft is the top of the pile. At least so far, though I think they’ll be tough to beat. I stopped in on a rainy Saturday recently and it was such a warm, charming, bustling respite that I didn’t want to leave.

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A Review of Everyone's Books

A Review of Everyone's Books

25 Elliot Street, Brattleboro, VT

This shop bills itself as “Everybody’s Bookshop – For Social Justice and the Earth,” and that should tell you everything you need to know about its unique take on bookselling and the role it plays in the Brattleboro community. More than any other shop in the southern Vermont area, Everybody’s Bookshop has made a name for itself as a progressive, enlightened, and open-minded bastion for those interested in the literary, political, and philanthropic aspects of life.

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A Review of Word

A Review of Word

126 Franklin Street, Greenpoint, Brooklyn, NY

During my five years living in NYC, I briefly stayed in a warehouse loft a short walk away from Word for approximately six months, and I made it my business to stop in to browse their new selection of books at least every other week, if only for the atmosphere and the comfort of being in a literary space so close to “home,” no matter how temporary a home it was. I was able to get back to the old neighborhood for a visit last month and was very happy to see they were open late into the evening.

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A Bookshop Interview with Brice Maiurro

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The holiday season is a busy one, but poet and editor Brice Maiurro took a few minutes out of his day to tell me about his favorite bookshop, and it sounds like an amazing place. Take a look!

Favorite Bookshop: Mutiny Information Cafe (Denver, CO)

1. How did you discover the shop?

I discovered Mutiny Information Café in what I imagine is the way that most people discover Mutiny Information Café. I was walking down South Broadway with some friends one night and we passed by Mutiny and through their big open glass windows I could see crowds of people crammed up against counters and at tables and mixed in with their records all watching a comedian perform. It was magic, of course, to feel a heartbeat like that. South Broadway is magic in general. I’ve seen so many incredible bands and events all over that long mile, but there amongst the bars on what I’m sure was a Tuesday night or something were people creating space for art. I wandered in and found what space I could amidst the huddled masses and listened to some comedian. I could be wrong on this, but I think it was Jordan Dahl too. I don’t know if this is just a Denver thing or a comedian at large thing but damn, Denver comedians are some of the most self-deprecating, nihilistic humans I’ve ever met. They’re also very funny.

2. What part of the shop is your favorite? Give us a walkthrough of what it's like to browse around at Mutiny.

Mutiny is a living, breathing thing. It’s constantly evolving. I’ve seen performances go from the front windows for passerby’s to see, now tucked intimately in the back surrounded by books, biographies and vintage copies. The pinball machines this week have their own aisle. The record collection is encroaching on the book section and the comic book section is encroaching on the records. They have this beautiful golden display case upfront which clearly must have harvested fancy chocolates or something similar at some point and it’s now filled with any Little Debbie or Hostess snack you might crave on a weeknight bender down South Broadway.

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I’d have to say my favorite part of Mutiny is the back. I will never forget the feeling of wandering into Mutiny to a seemingly low-key scene and sneaking to the back space to find anything from an anarchist puppet show to an ambient light event to a fashion runway to an open night magic night. I’ve seen cyphers in the back of Mutiny, I’ve seen some of Denver’s most prolific punk bands in the back of Mutiny. I’ve kissed women in the back of Mutiny. I’ve seen some of the people I’m closest to strip down to their underwear, covered in the hateful words that people have thrown at them in the back of Mutiny. So yeah, I think the back, surrounded by all those biographies of people who time may or may not forget. That’s gotta be my favorite part of Mutiny.

There’s also outside of Mutiny, a dozen of the same dregs smoking weed no matter if it’s 75 and sunny or -10 and dead cold.

3. What books have you bought there in the past?

I think the two most memorable books I’ve bought at Mutiny are “Coyotes” by Ken Arkind and “Retrospect/ed”, an audio poetry collection by Charly Fasano. Those two dudes are always in the spirit of anything I do in Denver. Seeing the names of people I saw around the city on a shelf in a bookstore is what made me myself realize two things. One, that I could do it. That I could someday get my book out onto the shelves at Mutiny, and two, that being on a bestseller list or getting a book deal with Simon & Schuster could be really gratifying, but I realized there was so much talent just lurking up and down the streets of Denver, and I’ve been so blessed to witness all of it.

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4. What is it about Mutiny that makes you love it? What really sets it apart?

I asked Jim Norris, who owns Mutiny Information Café along with his business partner Matt Mega C one night how he came to own Mutiny and he told me how he came up through Denver’s music venues and at some point, he wanted to step out of the craziness of those venues and bring that same energy into a book shop. Mutiny has some great books. Early editions of Vonnegut novels, Hemingway novels, Kerouac novels. To call Mutiny a book store alone would be limiting. Mutiny is a safe haven for art that is done for the passion, something that Denver believes strongly in. Denver is notorious for having free events. Even so many live music shows I know are $5 suggested donation.

Mutiny Information Café has been a space that has helped me to find some grounding. I’ve hosted open mics there, Matt Clifford and I decided to start Punketry there. If I really like someone, I take them to Mutiny. I had my book release party at Mutiny. I’ve been in Mutiny on a Sunday morning and was lucky enough to have the opportunity to read Dr. Seuss to a room full of kids. I’ve been in Mutiny at the witching hour when the pinball machine plays reverend and I confess my sins to Ghostbusters in multi-ball. Mutiny is this big family of weirdos and the only rules I’ve gathered to be kicked out of that family is being a hateful or violent person.

My friend Squidds, Daniel Madden, told me that the intersection outside of Mutiny is the nexus of Denver, the zero-zero point of the city, and I believe that because I can’t think of a more resetting place. Mutiny is church, and it’s meant a lot to me.

BIO: Brice Maiurro is a poet and writer from Denver, CO. His work has been featured by The Denver Post, Boulder Weekly, Horror Sleaze Trash and Birdy Magazine. He is the Editor-In-Chief of South Broadway Ghost Society. You can find him at @maiurro on Instagram.

A Review of BOOK OFF

A Review of BOOK OFF

9 W 45th Street, New York, NY

About six years ago I worked a block from this multimedia shop, which stands within the general sphere of the Times Square area of Manhattan, and I used to make a habit of going about once a week. While it’s not my favorite bookstore, I went that often for two reasons: dollar books, and deeply discounted classic movies. I recently passed by on a NYC visit and I stopped in to see if the place held up after all this time, and it certainly does.

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A Review of The Spotty Dog Books & Ale

A Review of The Spotty Dog Books & Ale

440 Warren Street, Hudson, NY

A good beer and a good book go together so well, but it’s not very often you see them sold together. The Spotty Dog does just that, but they don’t stop there. This bookshop bar combo also sells art supplies, holds incredible readings by writers and poets from all over the map, and they have an incredible selection of books by bestsellers and indie authors alike, making The Spotty Dog a tough shop to beat.

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A Bookshop Interview with Clifford Brooks

(Photo from the Avid Bookshop website.)

(Photo from the Avid Bookshop website.)

Clifford Brooks is a poet, teacher, and one of the founders of The Southern Collective Experience, an organization that has always been supportive of my own creative projects, and so I wanted to loop Cliff in to my bookshop interview series to pick his brain and see which shop tops his own list of favorites.

Favorite Bookshop: Avid Bookshop (Athens, Georgia)

1. How did you discover the shop?

The launch, and my first reading - ever, of my book, The Draw of Broken Eyes & Whirling Metaphysics.

2. What part of the shop is your favorite? Give us a walkthrough of what it's like to browse around at Avid Bookshop.

The poetry section is my favorite. It is not a sliver of one shelf, but generously represented. The location close to my heart has large windows in front, an open, airy interior, large enough for room to casually browse, but small enough for that total literary experience we bibliophiles need to get our fix.

3. What books have you bought there in the past?

Selected Works of Robert Pinsky, several novels by Pat Conroy, All Over But the Shoutin’ by Rick Bragg, the Collected Work of Rilke, and the Collected Work of Edna St. Vincent Millay.

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4. What is it about Avid Bookshop that makes you love it? What really sets it apart?

The knowledgeable staff, the space they give you, closeness to The Grit, and comprehensive stock. What sets it apart is the business model and philosophy that makes them thrive as an independent bookstore.

For more about Cliff and his work, visit his Facebook page.

A Review of Fairview Books

A Review of Fairview Books

424 Fairview Ave., Hudson, NY

Much in the same way that The Bookloft bookshop in Great Barrington, MA is just outside of town in a large strip mall, Fairview Books is just outside of Hudson, NY in a busy strip mall too, but while Bookloft surprised me with the organized presentation of an indie version of Barnes & Noble, Fairview is a different animal altogether, and I’m still not quite sure how to categorize that animal. The shop has unique items and some discounts, but the quality and style are all over the map. This can be good, or not so good, depending on your book shopping needs and expectations.

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A Review of bookbook

A Review of bookbook

266 Bleecker Street, New York, NY

While hustling from Greenwich Village toward the Bowery section of Manhattan a sunny Saturday afternoon, I stumbled across bookbook out of the blue. (Ed. Note: They spell their name lowercased, so that’s not a typo.) I hadn’t heard of it before, despite living in the city for about five years not long ago and having walked up and down Bleecker more times than I can count. Dumbstruck by my ignorance, I walked in and found a real gem of a bookshop. Whatever you do, don’t make my mistake and overlook this place.

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A Bookshop Interview with Melinda Wilson

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Melinda Wilson is a poet, essayist, editor, professor, reading host, and all around creative superhero, and she graciously agreed to fill us in on what was once her favorite spot to load up on books!

Favorite Bookshop: Baldface Books (Dover, New Hampshire)

1. How did you discover the shop?

I heard about Baldface during my time as an undergraduate English student at University of New Hampshire. Dover was a stone’s throw away from Durham where the main campus is located, and many students chose to live off-campus in Dover. I was one of those students. Several of my friends with similar literary interests had raved about Baldface, and I eventually visited the shop.

2. What part of the shop was your favorite?

Baldface is…well, was…the storefront recently closed permanently and the bookseller now sells from his rare book collections online only and has a few racks of records at a storefront called Cracked Skulls in Newmarket, New Hampshire. Baldface was a crowded but delightful space with a mishmash of different types of shelving of different colors and sizes. Since it’s no longer open, I can probably say without causing backlash for the store that it was most definitely a liability issue. Any one of those top-heavy shelves could have collapsed on me as I browsed the lower shelves. Nevertheless, this was kind of the best part. The shop had character. I remember holing up in a corner of the poetry section, sitting legs crossed on the carpeted floor, god, that carpet must have been a century old, reading Plath, Lowell, and Berryman. The poetry section was at the back of the store in a somewhat narrow space, and often I would get sidetracked in the excellent vinyl section at the front. I remember my then boyfriend, now husband, having several lengthy and energetic conversations about Dylan with the bookseller…I think his name was Clyde.

3. What books have you bought there in the past?

I’ve bought a number of books there over the years: a couple of Seamus Heaney collections, Gary Snyder’s Turtle Island, some older editions of Anne Sexton’s early work, Louis Simpson’s A Dream of Governors, W.D. Snodgrass’s Heart’s Needle…I can’t remember them all, but grab any worn book off my shelves, and it’s got a decent shot of having been acquired at Baldface.

4. What was it about Baldface that made you really love it? What set it apart?

I was studying with the poet Charles Simic during the years I was a Baldface regular, and I could almost see Simic’s influence on the poetry shelves there. The Elizabeth Bishop collections he would tout in class were all over the stacks. James Tate’s books also feature prominently in my memory. My memories of Baldface are obviously tied up with my nostalgia for a period in my life when I consumed poetry voraciously, definitely more so than I do now, when my entire life was devoted to the study of poetry and my craft. Life has definitely gotten more complicated…or something akin to that… since those days, so thinking of Baldface now, I end up in a headspace of pure joy and enthusiasm for what the world contains. I’m sad that Baldface isn’t a brick and mortar location anymore. It’s sad to think I can’t revisit the physical space from which much of my poetry’s root system grew. I guess Baldface has always felt to me like a space in which I could converse with the past. So many of the books were second-hand with previous readers’ annotations, and even seeing the handwriting of someone who likely read the book I was reading decades and decades ago felt like a kind of communion. Because the books were used, they were often cheap, which also solidified my love of the place. Beyond that, Baldface was a space in which I felt welcome. Every time I walked in, I got the distinct sense that I was the audience for the product, this was my place, I belonged there.


Melinda Wilson is a published poet, critic and essayist. Her work has appeared in journals such as Verse Daily, The Cincinnati Review, The Minnesota Review, Arsenic Lobster, The Agriculture Reader and Coldfront among many other publications. She holds an MFA from The New School and a PhD in English from Florida State University. She is a Founding editor and current Managing Editor of Coldfront. (www.coldfrontmag.com)

A Review of Half Price Books

A Review of Half Price Books

3207 Broadway, San Antonio, TX

Let me start off by saying that I’m cheating a little here. This blog is about hyping small independent bookshops, and Half Price Books doesn’t reeeeally fall into that category. There are 120 locations (way more than I thought) but I have only ever been to two spots in San Antonio, Texas, and I have loved both. If they sold new books at new prices, I wouldn’t review them. But they sell everything under the literary sun and then some, and all at discounted (sometimes deeply discounted) prices. This place is a treasure trove and you absolutely must do yourself a favor and find one near you.

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A Review of Mystery on Main Street

A Review of Mystery on Main Street

119 Main Street, Brattleboro, VT

I previously reviewed a bookshop with a similar name in Johnstown, NY, but this one out in southeastern Vermont seems to be its own entity, and it had some cool little tricks up its sleeves. Unlike the Johnstown shop, this one actually focuses exclusively on mystery, crime, and noir titles. And being located right in the heart of downtown Brattleboro, surrounded by a plethora of cafes and shops, you can easily work this store into an adventurous afternoon of browsing.

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A Review of Idlewild Books

A Review of Idlewild Books

170 7th Avenue South, New York, NY

There are two branches for this travel-themed shop in greater New York, but on this day I visited the Manhattan/West Village location, with its rounded corner windows turning the little store into a bright and delightful place to browse. As stated, the books are travel related, but they don’t always contain themselves specifically to travel. If that sounds confusing, I assure you, it’s a really wonderful thing.

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A Review of The Twig Book Shop

A Review of The Twig Book Shop

306 Pearl Parkway #106, San Antonio, TX

Since I moved away from San Antonio in 2009, the Pearl Brewery area has absolutely exploded with development, and in a beautiful way. My friend Christina gave me a tour of the new digs, the coffee shops, hotel lobbies, plazas, and of course a beautiful little bookshop. It’s not a huge shop, but it’s a fun one, and fits the aesthetic of the updated neighborhood very well.

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A Review of Magpie Bookshop

A Review of Magpie Bookshop

392 Main Street, Catskill, NY

The small city of Hudson, NY has garnered a lot of attention in recent years as a bustling and growing hotspot for NYC transplants feeding its downtown revival, but just a short drive away and across the Hudson River is a somewhat subtler, quieter town that may be overlooked from time to time, but shouldn’t be. Catskill has a fun little downtown lined with trendy shops, cafes, a movie theater, and yes, an excellent bookshop. Magpie Bookshop is not one to overlook, and mixes small town charm with literary surprises that will make any bookworm happy.

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