A Review of The Bookloft

A Review of The Bookloft

332 Stockbridge Rd., Great Barrington, MA

Upon discovering The Bookloft bookshop in the middle of a small town supermarket plaza, I was uncertain about what I’d find inside. A deep discount goldmine? A cheapie cast-off shop? But as we know to never judge a book by its cover, I have learned to never judge a bookshop by where you find it, and The Bookloft turned out to be a very pleasant surprise.

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Bookshop Interview with Iris Appelquist

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Iris Appelquist is the author of such books as A Banner Year and Nice Feelings, and Iris took a few moments to talk about the complex relationships we sometimes have with bookstores in our community.   

Prospero's Books (1800 W 39th St, Kansas City, MO)

1. How did you discover the shop?

About 17 years ago I was 18 and attending a poetry reading by accident. My friend Emily and I on a seat-of-our-pants excursion from our ‘burbs 10 minutes away. I probably recited an Ani DiFranco spoken word piece. That initiated many relationships that helped fuel my earliest serious attempts at poetry, though I had been writing since childhood. It hadn’t yet occurred to me that there were people who made their lives around whatever or everything they wanted to do.

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

I don’t really have a favorite part…I can say the thing I least like about it. There are plexiglass panes in the floor, you can see down into the basement level. One of the people then running the store said it was so that one of the owners could look up women’s dresses.

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

About 80% of those pictured came from Prospero’s Books.

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4. What is it about Prospero’s Books that makes you love it? What really sets it apart as a bookshop?

Well. There was another bookstore I wish I could have profiled for you, but it recently closed for business.

I don’t actually love it. I have to say that they have supported me personally and ‘professionally’ (if you can call writing poetry a profession) for a very long time, and without their help I would not have had many of the opportunities to which I’ve been availed and it’s the only bookstore standing to which I’ve made any kind of regular patronage…that being said, it’s increasingly clear to me that their choices and conduct as a business, and as representatives of the writing and reading community of Kansas City don’t align with my values, as I’ve come into my middle 30’s. I have a lot less patience for white boomers who think they’re cute for refusing to acknowledge changing social climes. Where their priorities are reflected in their actions around issues of inclusion and social responsibility (as an arts publisher and venue, and retail business), I find myself at odds with them.

They have been featured on the Colbert Report, and in the New York Times for a stunt concocted by the owners back in the ‘aughts (a staged book burning as a comment on the lack of readers), and they are the largest independent used books store in Kansas City. To say nothing of their history and commitment to literature would be a disservice to all the poets who’ve found venue with them, and to all the readers getting their kicks on the cheap. They enjoy a base of support from the community, regardless of their politics. But, really...I don’t fuck with them. Unfortunately for me, they control four of my titles.

Bio: Appelquist is a Kansas City native and psychology student at University of Missouri Kansas City

A Review of The Bookstore and Get Lit Wine Bar

A Review of The Bookstore and Get Lit Wine Bar

11 Housatonic Street, Lenox, MA

I found a number of small town bookshops during a recent weekend tour of western Massachusetts, but only one had a wine bar, and even though I stopped in before lunch on a Saturday, I was tempted to sit down, pour a glass, and dive into a book in one of this shop’s cozy chairs. I resisted, sticking to the shelves, but this must be a fun place to take in a reading, and I can attest it’s a great shop to spend an hour or so relaxing and poking through the shelves.

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Bookshop Interview with Joanna C. Valente

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Joanna C. Valente is the author of Sexting Ghosts, Xenos, and Marys of the Sea, among others, and is the editor of A Shadow Map: An Anthology by Survivors of Sexual Assault. I caught up with Joanna about their favorite bookstore, Quimby's, which I definitely need to visit. Check out Joanna's full bio below for info about their website, books, and more!   

Quimby's Bookstore (536 Metropolitan Ave, Brooklyn, NY)


1. How did you discover the shop? 

I discovered Quimby's, which is a bookstore in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York, last summer when I did a reading with The Operating System. It's a beautifully crafted and curated space full of art and culture and all things strange and unusual. It's a space for anyone who doesn't feel totally "normal," whatever that means. I love it so much. 

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

I love the small press section - as well as the zine section, which is quite substantial, especially since it's usually not in many bookstores. There's also a ton of art on the walls, some of which is by local artists, which I also love. Supporting a local community is one of the most important things editors, readers, artists, and writers can do. 

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

Margaret Rhee's "Love, Robot." is a good one!

4. What is it about Quimby's that makes you love it? What really sets it apart as a bookshop? 

It's about building a physical community, which is really different than a lot of bookstores, even indies. I really love the environment and how it embraces a sense of occult and occult interests as well, as well as a DIY punk vibe (there's a wonderful zine section and a really inspiring small press section, along with a great music section). And these are all things I'm really passionate about

Joanna C. Valente is a human who lives in Brooklyn, New York, and is the author of Sirs & Madams (Aldrich Press, 2014), The Gods Are Dead (Deadly Chaps Press, 2015), Xenos (Agape Editions, 2016), and Marys of the Sea (The Operating System, 2017). They are the editor of A Shadow Map: An Anthology by Survivors of Sexual Assault (CCM, 2017). Joanna received a MFA in writing at Sarah Lawrence College, and is also the founder of Yes, Poetry, a managing editor for Luna Luna Magazine and CCM, as well as an instructor at Brooklyn Poets. Some of their writing has appeared in Brooklyn Magazine, Prelude, Apogee, Spork, The Feminist Wire, BUST, and elsewhere. Visit www.joannavalente.com/

A Review of Chartwell Bookseller

A Review of Chartwell Bookseller

55 East 52nd Street, New York, NY

This small shop is set off from the lobby of a polished midtown Manhattan building by a black marble hallway lined with photos of Winston Churchill, who is heavily featured in this bookshop. They sell books by him, about him, about World War II, British history, and other books Anglophiles would love. With recent films about Churchill’s era (Dunkirk and Darkest Hour, to name a couple) proving his time in power is still intriguing to us, this shop is perfectly situated to fulfill your every Churchill curiosity.  

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A Review of Librarium (Used & Rare Books)

A Review of Librarium (Used & Rare Books)

126 Black Ridge Rd., East Chatham, NY

Set back from Route 295 on a little dirt road surrounded by small farms and country cottages, you’ll find a shop full of used books piled along narrow aisles and tall shelves through multiple, winding rooms. You may not know it exists if you’re just passing through the area, or if you miss the small sign, but if you’ve heard of the shop through word of mouth or have a sharp eye, a visit to this brimming bookseller could be quite the treat.

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A Review of Shaker Mill Books

A Review of Shaker Mill Books

3 Depot Street, West Stockbridge, MA

On my way through the Berkshire Mountains to check out a bookshop in Lenox, Massachusetts, I stumbled across Shaker Mill Books in West Stockbridge. It looks rather unassuming from the outside, a one-floor building behind a lovely old red barn/mill right at the main crossroads in town. But when I walked inside, I was pleasantly surprised to find not just a massive array of books, but there were excellent deals all over the place. My eyes got really, big really quick, and I did not go home empty-handed.

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A Review of Beacon Reads

A Review of Beacon Reads

309 Main Street Beacon, NY

Beacon Reads is a small two-room shop next door to the Howland Public Library on Beacon’s Main Street, and they sell a lot of overflow titles, mass market paperbacks, and some older classics. Though it feels like a balance between a tag sale book table and a tiny bookshop, they do sell their own shirts and bags, and all the proceeds go to support the library itself, so you can feel good about dropping a few dollars on that David Baldacci book or the Michael Connelly novel you’ve been meaning to read. And to its credit, it has some other unique finds that make it worth exploring if you’re walking by.

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A Review of Binnacle Books

A Review of Binnacle Books

321 Main Street, Beacon, NY

When I lived in Beacon circa 2009, there really wasn’t any bookshop outside of the small library annex that sold overflow titles and well-worn mass paperbacks. This bookshop, however, puts Beacon back in the literary race. It’s a small shop, just a few cozy, compact rooms, but it packs a punch, has plenty to browse through, and gives Beacon’s Main Street some much needed literary representation.

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A Review of Logos Book Store

A Review of Logos Book Store

1575 York Ave., New York, NY

I came upon Logos as I was wandering around waiting to check into my Airbnb up in the Yorkville neighborhood of Manhattan. It was just before lunch on a Saturday and York Ave was quiet, matching the calm inside the store. I had the shelves all to myself, aside from the clerk up front, who was polite and let me browse at my own pace. There was a nice array of oil paintings hung up above the bookshelves, and the store had that old book smell with softly creaking wooden floors—I felt very much in my element.

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Bookshop Interview with Bud Smith

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Bud Smith is the author of Double Bird, Work, F-250, Calm Face, and other books of fiction and poetry, and I caught his ear for a quick moment to ask him some questions about his favorite bookshop. 

BookBook (266 Bleecker Street, NYC) 

1. How did you discover the shop?

Michael Bible told me to go there because we were drinking beer and talking about all those NYRB releases. He said that they had books in like new condition for $6 or so. It's not quite a used bookstore. It's like a major discount for like-new books. 

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

That big stack of NYRB releases is the best. It's right in the front of the store. I went there the other day and bought five of them. Past that are popular fiction titles and beyond that in the back of the shop there is literature. So you can nab Nabokov or whoever for $6.  

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

A few Eve Babitz. A few by Tove Jansson. Fat City. Lucky Jim. 

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

I just like how good quality the books are and how cheap they are. I like that it's right outside the Christopher Street path stop so I can get there quick from Jersey City. There is a WORD bookstore in my neighborhood in Jersey City but I do not like it very much. BookBook is the shit. Codex is another really great bookstore at the far Far east end of Bleecker.

Bud Smith is the author of Teenager (Tyrant Books, 2018), Double Bird (Maudlin House, 2018), WORK (Civil Coping Mechanisms, 2017), Dust Bunny City (Disorder Press, 2017), Calm Face (House of Vlad, 2016), among others. He lives in Jersey City, NJ, and works heavy construction. He blogs in the secret underground blogging ring known as tinyletter, follow him there, oh gawd. Also, he’s on Twitter at @bud_smithFor more about Bud and his books, check out his website, www.budsmithwrites.com.  

A Review of Shakespeare & Co. Books

A Review of Shakespeare & Co. Books

939 Lexington Ave., New York, NY

A weekday morning for a neighborhood bookshop could very well be a quiet affair, but Shakespeare & Co. on the upper east side of Manhattan was humming with guests on a Friday morning in March, though at that early hour, just after ten, most of the patrons were there for the coffee and pastries from their café tucked into the front of the shop. A few people took up chairs in the back to read over their steaming mugs. But I was there for the books, and there were plenty to browse through.

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A Review of the Chatham Bookstore

A Review of the Chatham Bookstore

27 Main Street, Chatham, NY

Columbia County in upstate New York is a gorgeous area of the country, with rolling hills, small farms, and quaint towns like Chatham, which has a pretty, revitalized main street that is home to a combination of chic artisan shops and longtime local favorites that have held on through the years, including a one-screen movie theater and a bookshop. The Chatham Bookstore is a gem that has survived through four decades as a literary outpost with a great selection of books and events.  

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A Review of McNally Jackson

A Review of McNally Jackson

52 Prince Street, New York, NY

In the heart of Soho’s cobbled streets and chic high-end clothiers, there’s an equally glossy and glass-encased bookshop that has a surprising number of works by indie authors and poets waiting within. First impressions, though, make the shop seem very au courant, with swaths of art books and large sections dedicated to photography, design, architecture, art, fashion, and other stylish topics. But until you start digging into the fiction, literature, and poetry, you don’t see the whole story.

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A Review of Housing Works Bookstore Cafe

A Review of Housing Works Bookstore Cafe

126 Crosby St., New York, NY

Wherever you combine a used book store and a café with food and coffee, I will find you. I will find you, and I will spend time with you. I came across this shop by accident while looking for Jackson McNally in SoHo, and damn, what a cool spot! Beyond just having a huge array of used books (all donated) and a relaxed, comfortable environment, this place is extra special because proceeds from the shop support a ton of local initiatives, like those working to end AIDS and homelessness. (You can find out more at their website.) So all of us buying cool books helps fund essential causes for those in need. It's a win-win-win.

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A Review of Rizzoli Bookstore

A Review of Rizzoli Bookstore

1133 Broadway, New York, NY

Even after relocating from their 57th Street home to this new store in the NoMad neighborhood, just a short walk from Madison Square Park, Rizzoli’s claim to be the “most beautiful bookstore in New York” may not be far off the mark. With large floor tiles, towering columns, and expansive shelf space, Rizzoli Bookstore certainly caters to the more chic and stylish readers on Manhattan Island. Still, I found there’s plenty there for the more humble reader, like yours truly.

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A Review of I Love Books

A Review of I Love Books

380 Delaware Ave., Delmar, NY

My first impression of I Love Books was one of hesitation, as it looked so much more like a chaotic trinket shop in some tourist town than an actual bookshop. But after looking around I discovered I was not only wrong, but I found I was really enjoying myself jumping from books to literary toys and gifts and right back into books again. Not only is there plenty here for the writers and readers in your life, but there’s something for almost anyone in I Love Books.

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A Review of The Mysterious Bookshop

A Review of The Mysterious Bookshop

58 Warren Street, New York, NY

If you love mysteries, hardboiled detectives, noir, Sherlock Holmes, pulp novels, or police procedurals, this is your ideal shop. It’s just one room, but it’s a big room, with books shelved floor to ceiling and piled on tables and turning racks in between. With leather sofas for reading and helpful staff willing to climb ladders to get those out-of-reach gems, this specialized shop is a great place to browse and a lot of fun to visit.

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A Review of Alabaster Bookshop

A Review of Alabaster Bookshop

112 4th Avenue, New York, NY

Just around the corner from the famous Strand bookshop is another store of near equal quality—although not equal quantity, not by a long shot. Even a lot of Manhattanites I’ve spoken to have never visited this “little shop that could,” and I always tell them that the Alabaster Bookstore should be on everyone’s hit list.

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A Review of Strand Bookstore

A Review of Strand Bookstore

828 Broadway, New York, NY

The idea of writing a review of Strand feels almost silly, as its reputation precedes itself quite well. And telling New York City bookworms about Strand is like telling Michael Jordan about basketball, but it’s an absolute pleasure to bring out-of-town book lovers into Strand and watch their eyes pop as they stare agog at the multi-floor beauty waiting for them within, or at the racks and racks of dollar books lining the sidewalk outside. This is my favorite place to browse for books. You can kill half a day here if you wanted to and never get bored, and I can’t remember a time when I didn’t leave the shop without a purchase.

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