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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Bookshop Interview with Melanie Faith

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Melanie Faith is the author of two new books on the craft of writing, Poetry Power and In a Flash!, and she’s here to tell us a little about her favorite bookshop. But there’s a twist: her favorite bookshop isn’t quite a bookshop at all. Take a look!

Favorite Bookshop: My choice is a bit of a maverick: thrift stores. Specifically, a treasure-trove- filled Goodwill in the Show Me state.

1. How did you discover the shop?

My fantastic fellow-bookworm sister introduced me to her Goodwill book section a few years ago, and it’s become one of our favorite go-tos during my visits. We go at least two or three times in the summer weeks I spend at her house in Missouri.

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

From the plate-glass double doors clear across the open-concept warehouse-type building, the book section calls to me, just past the donated dining sets and a synthesizer from someone’s garage, beyond the racks of clothes arranged by hue, and motley bric-a-brac on shelves. Tucked beside the VHS and DVDs and CDs (and even a few tapes) lined up in neat stacks in a metal bin, there are three jam-packed book shelves against a brightly-painted back wall.

It may not be a particularly elegant set up and it doesn’t have chairs to invite a good long beverage-soaked-paging-through like my beloved-now-gone Borders used to, but elegance and comfiness are beside the point when books are at stake. This place is authentic and a bit of a throwback. The thrill of the search is keen and energizing.

I’ve found novels that were clearly 100% new with pristine, undog-eared pages and remaindered from a popular chain store down the street alongside poetry volumes baring oodles of squiggly red and blue and black pen notes in the hand of a college freshman (or senior or professor—part of the fun, as in Billy Collins’ poem “Marginalia”—is in the imagining). It’s a serendipitous, almost mystical process, and when it comes to book browsing (much like a yogini doing Tree Pose), I can stand for marathon stretches if good books are in the offering. Did I mention I can hold almost my own body weight in book bargains in my arms? No reading weakling here!

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

Everything from poetry to bestselling recent novels to memoirs and classics (lots of college students in my sister’s town donate batches of lit books, whole semesters-worth, at a clip- I can’t decide if that’s wonderful or wonderfully sad) and some children’s books for my darling nieces’ library. Most books are just a dollar a piece, and even rare books are usually, at most, $2 or $3 for gently-used texts. A few times I lucked out and the books I wanted to purchase were on sale for 50 cents each—my stack wobbled in my arms on the way to the register on those days.

During my last week at my sister’s place last summer, the final four books I purchased there were (drumroll, please!): The Paris Wife (about Hadley Hemingway) by Paula McLain (which I’ve devoured and sent off for a writing pal to read next), a dishy old-Hollywood memoir of Ava Gardner (which I’ve also read cover-to-cover and happily sent off for a second writing friend who loves and writes well about old-Hollywood), Kim Edwards’ The Memory Keeper’s Daughter (can’t wait to dig into that one this fall), and an awesome book about the making of one of my favorite movies, The Princess Bride, that I gifted to my sister and plan to read next summer when I visit.

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

The Goodwill is not many other readers’ first thought when deciding on a new read, and yet thrift stores all across the US contain gems just waiting for readers. Like an antique store or swap meet or yard sale or craft fair, you can’t go in with one book and one author in mind. Instead, the smorgasbord of possibilities await! Why limit oneself? Give yourself at least a good half hour to 45 minutes—you’ll need it.

My other favorite element of the shop is that all of the goods are donated new by chain stores or gently-used from the community, and the money raised goes back to local nonprofit charities to assist people in nearby communities. Everybody gets a good deal from the purchases. While I love a good, long recline on a comfy chair with a book or three in a reading marathon as much as anybody, there’ll be plenty of time for that post-purchases, and I’d love for my fellow readers and writers to consider a stop by your local thrift store for a good perusal. You’ll do your book shelves and your local community some good and return home with quite a few treasures to entertain for endless hours.

Bio: Melanie Faith is a poet, professor, and photographer. She loves the Tiny House movement and collecting twinkly costume-jewelry pins. She wrote a craft book about the flash fiction and nonfiction genres to inspire fellow writers, In a Flash!: Writing & Publishing Dynamic Flash Prose (Vine Leaves Press, April 2018), and Poetry Power (also Vine Leaves Press, Oct. 26, 2018). Her short stories are forthcoming from Red Coyote (fall 2018) and Sunlit Fiction (Nov. 2018), and her poetry will appear in Meniscus Literary Journal in New Zealand and Up North Lit (Oct. 2018). This fall, she is teaching a few writing seminars, including a poetry-thesis-writing class and a class she created that combines two of her passions, called Photography for Writers. See more of her photography, writing, and projects at: https://www.melaniedfaith.com/blog/

A Review of Brattleboro Books

A Review of Brattleboro Books

36 Elliot Street, Brattleboro, VT

One of the things that makes downtown Brattleboro such a fun place for a weekend road trip is they have 3-4 bookshops all within about two blocks of each other, and the best one for quality used books is Brattleboro Books. It looks quaint and old-fashioned on the outside, with a dark wood exterior, a lamppost, and antique-looking signage—perhaps something out of a Harry Potter village or a colonial-era downtown—but inside the shop is chock full of all the new, old, and quality goods you’d hope for in a used book shop.

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A Review of The Book Nook (Lenox Library)

A Review of The Book Nook (Lenox Library)

18 Main Street Lenox, MA

This bookshop review is a little different because The Book Nook in Lenox, MA is actually part of the town library, a little alcove just inside by the front desk. But what it lacks in size, it greatly makes up for in quality and value. I happened upon it while attending the annual Lenox Apple Squeeze, just a few minutes after purchasing a taco-in-a-bag, munching away and halting in my tracks when I saw the Book Sale sign. For anyone who knows me, you understand my feelings of exalted joy. 

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A Review of Bartleby’s Books

A Review of Bartleby’s Books

17 West Main Street, Wilmington, VT

Wilmington could be any anonymous crossroad town on a long road trip, but I assure you, it isn’t. Where that one small village exactly halfway to your destination might usually have a gas station, a diner, a mechanic, a traffic light flashing yellow, and then a cluster of homes, Wilmington seems to be an exception to that rule. Situated exactly halfway between Bennington and Brattleboro in Vermont, and serving as the entryway to such ski resorts as Mt. Snow and Stratton, Wilmington is probably a lot of people’s favorite little town, bustling with galleries, antique stores, cafes, restaurants, little hotels, and of course, a couple bookshops.

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A Review of The Bennington Bookshop

A Review of The Bennington Bookshop

467 Main Street, Bennington, VT

This little shop located in picturesque downtown Bennington, Vermont is almost like a miniature indie version of a Barnes & Noble, in that it features all new books in a bright, clean environment, and has a dash of all the major categories and styles. But it has just enough local flavor to make it unique to this particular town and region, too. Plus, it’s close to a handful of cafes and restaurants I really enjoy, so it’s always a must whenever I pass through Bennington.

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Bookshop Interview with Kevin Ridgeway

 Photo borrowed from  Elder Zamora's Portraits in Poetry , May, 2018.

Photo borrowed from Elder Zamora's Portraits in Poetry, May, 2018.

Kevin Ridgeway is a California poet with at least six books under his belt, and I’m sure plenty more coming. His latest is a split chapbook with Gabe Ricard called A Ludicrous Split and is well worth your time. Here he tells us a little about his favorite bookshop, one I very much need to visit myself one day. Enjoy!    

Favorite Bookshop: Gatsby Books (5535 E Spring Street, Long Beach, CA)

1. How did you discover the shop?

On November 28th, 2012, I was asked to do a featured reading by a local press at a growing literary hub in Long Beach, CA. It was Gatsby Books. I met Sean Richard Moor, the personable owner and master of ceremonies of every reading. I had finally found an independent book store to get chased out of for hanging around too long.

2. What part of the shop is your favorite?

My favorite part of the shop is the poetry section. It has a wide range of the greats--from local authors to the classics. I'm always browsing that shelf.

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

Hammer and the Hearts of Gods by Fred Voss, Poets and Pleasure Seekers by Gerald Locklin and The Early Death of Men by Clint Margrave are among the titles I've scored at Gatsby's.

4. What is it about Gatsby’s that makes you love it? What really sets it apart?

This place is a place where everybody knows your name. Ruby the Cat meows during readings and Fred Voss, Gerald Locklin and Joan Jobe Smith are regulars and personable yet brilliant scribes. And Sean Richard Moor is the glue that holds it all together. He also even sold my books. Whata guy. The best indie book store around.

A Review of Saratoga $1 Book Warehouse

A Review of Saratoga $1 Book Warehouse

Stone Blvd. (?) Saratoga Springs, NY

This shop, more than any other I’ve visited in my life, has me torn about my experience. On one hand, you have a large selection of used books in pretty good shape that are one dollar each. This could be a goldmine for the right person. Dollar books are no joke for bookworms and there were some major deals on those shelves. But on the other hand, my experience at the Saratoga $1 Book Warehouse left me feeling…well, to put it mildly, a little unsettled.

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A Review of Northshire Bookstore (Manchester)

A Review of Northshire Bookstore (Manchester)

4869 Main Street, Manchester Center, VT 

This place is a long-time favorite, a standard bearer for what a great bookshop should be. This branch (they have two) is located in the town of Manchester, Vermont, surrounded by forests, beautiful mountains, long sweeping farm valleys, and outlet shops scattered throughout the area. It’s a trek from where I currently live (Albany, NY) but it’s definitely worth the drive whether you’re looking for new or used books, because they have both in abundance.

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A Review of Dog Ears Book Barn

A Review of Dog Ears Book Barn

Route 7 Hoosick, NY

Okay, hold up. I’ve driven past the sign for this shop hundreds of times in my life. It sits at a busy intersection outside Hoosick, on Route 7 between Troy, NY to Bennington, VT, right across the street from the incredible Big Moose Deli. But I always figured the weather-beaten sign for Dog Ears Books was for a tiny little shop in some country stable, the outdated books yellowing in the summer sun, hardly worth the time to stop. I couldn’t have been more wrong. This place is a treasure trove, and you have to put it on your “Must Visit” list as soon as you can!

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A Review of Troy Atrium Book Outlet

A Review of Troy Atrium Book Outlet

4 3rd Street Troy, NY

Inside the Troy Atrium off Broadway and 3rd, hidden among the many vacant shops and the large empty fountain still gurgling up water, there resides a horde of older books, rooms and rooms of them, all waiting for you to take the afternoon to sort through and pick up a gem. It’s a bargain outlet, nothing fancy, not much you’d call “new,” but the volume of books alone might make this shop worth a visit if you don’t mind a used copy of that old classic.  

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A Review of Owl Pen Books

A Review of Owl Pen Books

166 Riddle Road, Greenwich, NY

Out in the middle of Washington County in upstate New York, you’ll find a barn full of books sitting in the woods down a narrow dirt road, and while it may take you a while you find it, the experience alone is worth the drive. The countryside is beautiful, the shelves are spilling over with books, and if you bring enough cash and have enough idle hours on hand, you’re going to enjoy yourself.

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A Review of Northshire Bookstore (Saratoga)

A Review of Northshire Bookstore (Saratoga)

424 Broadway, Saratoga Springs, NY

Northshire Books began as a big, gorgeous bookstore out in Manchester, Vermont, but about five years back they opened a satellite branch in Saratoga Springs, NY, a beautiful little city known for horseracing, summer concerts at SPAC, and a bustling downtown filled with cafes, restaurants, and shops of all sorts. Northshire Bookstore may appear to be a smaller shop from the sidewalk, but it’s a lot bigger than expected and has all the diversity, discounts, and fun extras of the parent store. And it’s an excellent addition to an already fun downtown experience.

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A Review of Tattered Pages Books

A Review of Tattered Pages Books

365 Feura Bush Road, Glenmont, NY

I don’t get down to the Glenmont area south of Albany very often, but this little shop might make me change that. Located near a bustling intersection surrounded by strip centers and restaurants, Tattered Pages is a calm, relaxed throwback of a bookshop that is stacked with paperbacks, hardcovers, and good vibes. The hours are a little short, but if you get there when they’re open, you’re likely to find a mystery or romance novel just right for you.

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A Review of Battenkill Books

A Review of Battenkill Books

15 E Main Street, Cambridge, NY

It had been a long time since I took the twisting country backroads through Washington County to the small town of Cambridge, NY, but once there I felt this warm nostalgic feeling wash over me. Not much in the town seems to have changed in the 9 years since my last pass through, but I certainly don’t remember this quaint and clean bookshop, full of bestsellers, trinkets, and discounts that will make any bookworm happy for having trekked through forests and farmland to get there.

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Bookshop Interview with Rachel Nix

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Rachel Nix is a poet, reviewer, and editor extraordinaire who deserves a hurricane of praise for putting together what I tell everyone is my favorite poetry anthology, America Is Not The World (available at Amazon!), and in this interview she takes us on a tour of her favorite bookshop down in Tuscumbia, Alabama. Enjoy!   

Favorite Bookshop: Coldwater Books (101 W 6th St, Tuscumbia, AL)

1. How did you discover the shop?

It’s been at least a decade ago, but I believe a friend first took me there. Coldwater Books is in a historic area of Tuscumbia, Alabama, where I imagine folks discover the bookstore by both purpose and accident, but always with as much affectionate as I first did. For those unfamiliar, it’s near the Helen Keller Public Library, which was the first public library in all of Alabama, and of course the Keller birthplace. Spring Park, one of the most beautiful parks in the Shoals, is also nearby – making this tiny little community a perfect place to easily pass an afternoon.

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

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There’s so much to love about this bookstore, but my favorite thing is the way local writers are featured so thoughtfully. There are various spots within the store to happen upon works by area writers: typically in the front of the store; almost always mid-store on a table with books spread out all over and a chair pulled up next to it for intimate gandering; mingled in where applicable; and then upstairs where artists’ works, such as paintings, postcards, soaps, and other handmade crafts are lined along the shelves near books by locals broken up by genre.

The walkthrough has to start with a coffee – you can order just about any variation of brew imaginable and often enough, the shop has a special drink made up for current events. (I had a frozen Butterbeer this past weekend with a nod to Harry Potter.) Coffee in hand, I then tend to loafer from room to room, seeing what’s new or what’s recommended by its shelfmates – the organization there is neat and dependable but also has a way of recommending books we might not otherwise notice and could fall in love with. If my nephew is with me, we spend a lot of time in the back room; this section of the store offers a long stretch of children’s books and toys all located in a play area, which includes a reading cave.

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

I usually buy poetry books at bookstores and I do this at Coldwater, too – specifically local works, but this is also one of the few places where I branch out the most. I’ve bought several books on local myths and history covering everything from the musical richness of the area to hauntings dating back to the Civil War era.

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

Coldwater Books is a place for community and local pride, nurtured with an old-fashioned approach to business and with a progressive reach in blending what readers are offered. It’s a quiet place to escape to, an energetic and celebratory meeting place for local events, and the single best place to witness what’s being offered by people of the area and those outside of our little corner of the map.

Bio: Rachel Nix is an editor for cahoodaloodaling, Hobo Camp Review and Screen Door Review. Her own work has recently appeared in Anti-Heroin Chic, L'Éphémère Review, Occulum, and Rogue Agent. She resides in Northwest Alabama, where pine trees outnumber people rather nicely, and can be followed at @rachelnix_poet on Twitter.

A Review of Market Block Books

A Review of Market Block Books

290 River Street, Troy, NY

Market Block Books is pretty much the go-to spot for new books in the city of Troy, and it’s perfectly situated in a gorgeous downtown setting close to the river and plenty of cafes, bars, shops, and restaurants. And though the shop isn’t huge, it has just enough of everything to keep you busy with new bestsellers or local fare.

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A Review of Lyrical Ballad Bookstore

A Review of Lyrical Ballad Bookstore

7 Phila Street, Saratoga Springs, NY

If you have never explored the shops and cafes of downtown Saratoga Springs, then the Lyrical Ballad Bookstore is going to be an exciting treat for you. And if you’ve been there before, you already know how enchanting and sprawling this shop can be. And when you walk down that side street and through the front door, you may find the first few rooms are piled with books on every surface, shelves of all sizes, and even on the floor, but those rooms are only the beginning.

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Bookshop Interview with Ryan Quinn Flanagan

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Ryan Quinn Flanagan is the author of a new book called Return to Vegas Poems, and he took a few moments to tell us about his favorite bookshop, one that is no longer.

Batta Bookshop (Batta Used Books), Ontario, Canada

1. How did you discover this shop?

I had just moved to a new neighbourhood in Toronto, ON Canada and was searching out used bookshops in the area and the one closest to my apartment ended up being the best by far. I lived a two minute walk from Batta and spent so much time in there! Not just going rack to rack and soaking up that musty magical smell of all the old books, but also talking books with the old timer who owned the shop.

2. What part of Batta was your favorite? Give us a walkthrough of what it was like to browse around.

My favourite part of the shop was in back. All the more popular stuff was up front and in the window, but the closer you got to the back the more treasures you could find. The far wall had more new releases and a non-fiction section while the middle of the shop was various turning racks four to five books deep with just about anything you can imagine. That’s what I loved about it. There was no order to it. Everything was random. You had to go searching so that when you found something it really felt like a treasure. There was a large brown floor to ceiling bookshelf behind the racks which was a large philosophy section separating the front of the store from the stock in back. More rare and valuable titles were kept in back as well behind a simple black curtain and were brought out if you inquired. The cash register was on the right wall in a small corner by the front door where the old timer’s wife watched her soaps on a small fourteen inch portable black and white television. She would ring things through and make change barely ever looking up from her soaps. She ran the register and her husband ran the books and all the years I went there I never once saw or heard them speak to each other. But he said they had been married over fifty years or something crazy like that. They loved books and surrounded themselves with them, it was great!

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3. What books did you buy there?

Ha, where to start. My Understanding Media by Marshall McLuhan and his student Neil Postman’s Amusing Ourselves to Death, along with a good part of my philosophy collection: Rousseau, Foucault, Mill, Descartes, Plato, Locke, Camus, Hume, Nietzsche, Kierkegaard, Schopenhauer, Bertrand Russell, Heidegger, Sartre, Kant, Voltaire, Marx, Spinoza, Hobbes etc.

Also a large part of my modernist stuff as well: Joyce, Forster, Baudelaire, Woolf, Conrad, Beckett, Rimbaud, Mansfield, Kafka, Pound, Cummings, Proust…you name it. Plus some of my Leonard Cohen books as well as some of Irving Layton’s and Al Purdy’s and some Canadian Poetry Collected volumes as well. You could get anything there and I did: books on art, books about the Bolshevik Revolution, military history, Woodward and Bernstein stuff, Chomsky, books on Native American folklore, economic theory, Basho haiku, John Knowles’ A Separate Peace (one of my favourites), all sorts of poetry, Irish history stuff…just a trove of stuff to go through and pickup and the prices were always insanely cheap.

4. What was it about Batta that made you love it?

I loved that it was a real mom and pop place run by an old couple who lived upstairs and who just loved books – that simple. A little hole in the wall that you could walk past on the street and miss if you weren’t looking. But the best thing about Batta Books that separates it from any other bookstore I have ever been to was the stocks in the back. And by stocks, I mean random piles of books stacked uneasily everywhere, and how the old timer couldn’t remember your name from five minutes ago even though you told him twice, but suggest some obscure book you hadn’t been able to find anywhere and he would walk over to one of the stacks and pull it out or be able to tell you right off that he didn’t have it. I watched this old man in his 70s do this so many times. He had a running catalog of every book in there and what pile it was in, truly remarkable to see. And if by some miracle they didn’t have what you were looking for he would order it for the next time you were in. That old timer was a magic man to me. The store is closed down now I hear. Both he and his wife have most likely passed on. And I haven’t lived in that city now for over a decade. But when I lived in Toronto that was the place for me. The books still have the smell of that little old shop along the Queensway whenever I open them.

Bio: Ryan Quinn Flanagan is a Canadian-born author residing in Elliot Lake, Ontario, Canada with his wife and many bears that rifle through his garbage.  His work can be found both in print and online in such places as: Evergreen Review, The New York Quarterly, Nerve Cowboy, Ariel Chart, Red Fez, and The Oklahoma Review. Visit: http://ryanquinnflanagan.yolasite.com/