A Review of Red Well Books

A Review of Red Well Books

145 Main Street, Hoosick Falls, NY

Out among the rolling hills and farms of eastern Rensselaer County is the small town of Hoosick Falls, and tucked behind a house on Main Street a few blocks from the brick storefronts of downtown you’ll find Red Well Books. You’ll know you’ve found it by the little red well on the front lawn, painted bright to catch your eye. It’s a relatively new shop, just a few years old as of late 2019, but there’s a nice enough selection inside to make you think it’s always been here and you just overlooked it, as I had until just this October.

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A Review of Braveheart Books

A Review of Braveheart Books

874 Route 43, Stephentown, NY

Formerly known as Down in Denver Books, this revived and redesigned shop in Stephentown, NY is as lively as a used bookshop can be. Owner Louise and Orson the bookshop cat do their best to ensure booklovers have a good time browsing, whether they leave with an armload of books or just a great experience and a story to tell. If you’re heading out to find the shop, look for the bright red building on the side of the road way out on Route 43. It’ll be hard to miss, and you’ll be glad you stopped.

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A Review of Sherman's Maine Coast Book Shop

A Review of Sherman's Maine Coast Book Shop

158 Main Street, Damariscotta, ME

This bookshop is located on the quaint-yet-bustling commercial strip alongside ice cream shops, a movie house, an oyster shack, a department store with a real soda-jerk counter, and assorted gift emporiums, not to mention one that specializes in ye olde candy and Moxie paraphernalia. But despite the many places one can wander through in town, this bookshop is a robust nexus of culture and commerce in Damariscotta, which is pronounced dama-riscotta, not damara-scotta; a handy pro tip given to me by many a local during my first visit many years ago. And as such a nexus, I cannot recommend it enough.

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A Review of Books of Wonder (18th Street)

A Review of Books of Wonder (18th Street)

18 West 18th Street, New York, NY

If you’re in New York City and you’re looking for a new or classic children’s book, or you’re simply looking to take a trip down Nostalgia Boulevard, you’d be hard pressed to find a better shop than Books of Wonder. I stopped by this branch on a rainy Wednesday afternoon after running around the city all day, and it offered a very enjoyable half hour of respite from the downpour.

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A Bookshop Interview with Darrell Epp

Image borrowed from  ihearthamilton.ca .

Image borrowed from ihearthamilton.ca.

I had the pleasure of meeting Darrell Epp in Troy, NY, when he was on tour earlier in 2019 and I’m glad he took a few minutes to tell us about his favorite bookshop. Take a look, and be sure to check out his books: Imaginary Maps, After Hours, and Sinners Dance.

Favorite Bookshop: The Printed Word (Dundas, Ontario)

My first experience there made me feel the way I'd imagine one feels when uncovering a trunk full of buried pirate's treasure--it was a real thrill to find such a lovely place, with a collection of books obviously curated with so much love and care...Browsing around it is, in a word, fun.

The 'vibe' is clear--James carries ZERO celebrity autobiographies, ZERO self-help books, but there's a great section of film books, theology books, philosophy books, a wild collection of dime novels from the 50's, the best selection of quality children's books you'll ever see, and a whole WALL devoted to poetry--since I write poetry and know how rare it is to see a retailer devoting his/her shelf space to it, I really appreciated that, but also just appreciated having so much great stuff at my fingertips...

I have bought a lot of books there...recently I bought A SMALL KILLING, written by Alan Moore and illustrated by Oscar Zarate. Alan Moore is of course most known for writing WATCHMEN, but this book is a more personal work: "…chasing this puddle of piss-coloured light as it skims between flats painted post-war austerity mustard and maisonettes brick-built in scabby-knee burgundy during the macmillan years…through these streets; through this scrapyard of clapped-out utopias; failed social visions that came here to die…these houses are the furniture with which I stock my dreams. Night after night I rearrange them in my sleep…" I also recently purchased Robert Lowell's translation of THE ORESTIEA. I've loved Lattimore's translation for literally decades--it actually changed my life, as one big thing that motivated me to write poetry books was the dim hope that I might someday write something with the incantatory hypnotic effect of that...Lowell translates, not the Greek original, but the Lattimore version, with the aim of it being more stage-ready, able to be performed by modern actors in a single night...the end result is an ORESTEIA that really motors. it's really 'dramatic,' with an irresistible 'page-turner' quality. Also, the characters speak with a bluntness that makes the horror more horrifying...here's a sample, this is of course Cassandra speaking:

No, no, this is a meathouse. God

Hates these people. They have hung the flesh

Of their own young on hooks.


How I envy the nightingale—

When the nightingale died, the gods

Gave her beating wings,

And a bird’s life of song.

My life was, is,

And shall be the edge of the knife.


Ah, Troy, my city, the pitiful, munching

Sheep my father slaughtered by your walls

Were no help at all to save you!

I too with my brain on fire must die.


I do not wish to complain of my death.


What’s life? At best, its sorrows are hardly

More pitiable than its joys. At worst,

One sweep of a wet sponge wipes out the picture.

Hear me. I call upon the sun.

May the sun shine down on our avengers,

And on the final merciful hour of their vengeance.

When the avenge Agamemnon, may they also

Avenge a simple slave who died.

She was a small thing, and carelessly killed…


That is pretty hard to beat! So stop by The Printed Word the next time you're near the western tip of Lake Ontario...Man, I love bookstores!

BIO: Darrell Epp's poems have appeared in over 130 magazines on 6 continents. He is the author of 3 poetry collections: Imaginary Maps, After Hours, and Sinners Dance. He lives in Hamilton, Ontario.

Visit his Amazon page HERE.

Check out Darrell reading HERE.

A Review of Symposium Books

A Review of Symposium Books

240 Westminster Street, Providence, RI

I came across Symposium Books quite by accident while wandering downtown Providence, Rhode Island, while searching for the indoor arcade where the Lovecraft bookshop is located. But after a quick look around inside this store, I got the feeling that this might be one of my Go-To bookshops if I lived in Providence, or Rhode island for that matter.

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A Review of the Mast Books

A Review of the Mast Books

72 Avenue A, New York, NY

While browsing around online for bookshops on the lower east side of Manhattan, I saw this one pop up not far from Tompkins Square Park, where I figured I could take a break and read in the shade with an iced coffee. Not a bad one-two punch. So I cut my way over from the Union Square area where I’d been visiting two old favorites, Alabaster and Strand Books, and I eventually came upon this minimalist shop. It reminded me of a bookstore for an art gallery, one that straddles chic and experimental, and it used a lot of open/white space to offset its artistic and avant-garde collection.

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A Bookshop Interview with Ally Malinenko

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Ally Malinenko has been one of my favorite writers for a long time, and getting to share our cancer treatment experiences with each other way back when meant a lot to me and really helped during some tough times, so I’m doubly excited to finally interview her about her favorite bookshop. And how excited was I that she picked one of my absolute favorite places in the entire world! See below for more information about her books and social media links!

Favorite Bookshop: The Strand (New York, NY)

1. How did you discover the shop? Do you remember your first experience there?

I hate to say this because it's probably such a stereotypical New Yorker answer but The Strand is my favorite bookstore. Yes, I know it's full of tourists and yes I know they sell about as many trinkets as they do books, but I love it. I can't help it. The first time I went to The Strand, I was with my husband, who was my boyfriend at the time. Though I had been to the city plenty of times growing up I never went to that particular bookstore. Jay, on the other hand knew all about it, including the infamous tagline: 18 miles of books. Walking in I just remember row after row of never ending shelves that you needed a ladder to get to the top of. It's different now, but at the time, it was incredible.

2. What is it like to browse around? Does it have a particular vibe or atmosphere that stands out?

Once you get through the crunch of tourists at the front of the store, it's nice. My favorite part is the basement with a lot of the nonfiction: gender studies, science, music, etc. Also that's where the vinyl is - my second obsession after books I feel like Strand's atmosphere is non-judgmental which I appreciate. I never feel like anyone is paying attention to what I'm looking at and the staff are always really great at helping me find stuff. I went in there the other day to buy a book published in the 1950's about the history of the Black Arts: Witchcraft and the Occult and no one wrinkled their nose at me. It's not a "literary" store where you feel like your choices are frowned upon my a man at the front desk in a sweater vest. My kind of vibe.

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

So many things! And not just witchcraft books, I swear! Most of the books that I purchase come from The Strand. The rest from the library. Christmas shopping for my husband usually involves spending enough money to get another tote bag! The most recent purchases, other than the Black Arts book would have been How Long till Black Future Month by N. K. Jemisn and Devil in the White City by Eric Larsen which were birthday gifts from Jay.

4. Is there a specific part of the shop you love that really makes the place unique?

They have a rare books room on the third floor but I've never been up there! I'm sure it's fascinating. I like the second floor with the art books and the children's books. The children's room is pretty magical to me, not just cause I write children's books, but also because it still has those never ending shelves. I can only imagine being a little kid and seeing all those books.

BIO: Ally Malinenko is a novelist and poet. Her most recent poetry chapbook Princess Leia on the Back Deck Blues was published by Holy & Intoxicated Press. More information about her work can be found at allymalinenko.com or at @allymalinenko where she can be found blathering on about smashing the patriarchy, slaying cancer, writing books and other shenanigans.

A Review of West End Used Books

A Review of West End Used Books

35 West Main Street, Wilmington, VT

I never imaged I’d find myself standing in a yurt full of books tucked behind the row of shops on Main Street when I started out for Wilmington, but that’s sure where I ended up. It wasn’t the only surprise of the day, either, and I’m glad I made it back after skipping this used shop when I was last in town to review Bartleby’s Books. If only for the drive out, Wilmington has certainly proven to be a cute destination spot for bookhunters and antique shoppers alike.

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A Bookshop Interview with Tim Suermondt

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Poet Tim Suermondt has five full-length collections to his name, the latest JOSEPHINE BAKER SWIMMING POOL from MadHat Press, and he took a few minutes to share his favorite bookshop with me. I still haven’t made my way to Boston to visit any bookshops, and this makes want to go even more. Thanks, Tim!

Favorite Bookshop: The Harvard Coop Bookstore (Cambridge, MA)

Tim: My favorite bookshop is the Harvard Coop at Harvard Square. I actually came to the Coop a bit late, initially spending a lot of time at The Harvard Bookstore (which is not affiliated with the University) and Grolier’s (which surprised me by its tiny space when I first went there.) As for the Coop, I noticed how rather large it was when I went to check it out, especially when compared to the feeble MIT Coop. And seeing a lot of books is always inviting.

Browsing is easy. There are four floors (counting the basement), accessible by elevator or the nice winding wooden staircases. There’s a café on the second floor—can’t say I’m a fan of these outposts, but they’re here to stay. There are chairs for reading, though a few more would be better. I always feel smarter when I’m there; it’s the Harvard air I’m sure.

I quickly came to realize that the Coop has a terrific assortment of books, especially their poetry selection which is the best in town for the latest poetry. My wife, Pui, and I have bought a number of books from the Coop. Just a few days ago we bought Rilke in Paris from Pushkin Press. It’s the type of book I don’t think you’d find elsewhere. I really like the way the poetry anthologies lead in to the poetry books, and from there into essays on poetry then music and travel—a smart, good threading.

The Coop also has a decent section of poetry journals and magazines, along with other fare. I don’t know if it’s unique, but the blending of the students, the locals and the out-of-towners who go there makes for a bustling but most satisfying vibe.

BIO: Tim Suermondt is the author of five full-length collections of poems, the latest JOSEPHINE BAKER SWIMMING POOL from MadHat Press, 2019. He has published in Poetry, Ploughshares, The Georgia Review, Prairie Schooner, Stand Magazine, Galway Review, Bellevue Literary Review and Plume, among many others. He lives in Cambridge (MA) with his wife, the poet Pui Ying Wong.

A Review of the Strand’s Central Park Kiosk

A Review of the Strand’s Central Park Kiosk

Southeast corner of Central Park

Every now and then I’ll bend my own rules enough to review a quirky kiosk, off-shoot, or library nook that sells books as opposed to a full fledged independent bookshop, and when I do I hope you know it’s because finding these little extras out there in the world will be very much worth your time. This outdoor “bookshop” is a satellite of the gargantuan and epic Strand Bookstore down near Union Square, but being so close to Central Park and its shaded benches, aromatic food trucks, and bright open skies reflected on rippling ponds, I wonder: is it possible that this kiosk is even better than the mothership?

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A Review of Lovecraft Arts & Sciences

A Review of Lovecraft Arts & Sciences

65 Weybosset Drive, Providence, RI

I’d like to say it was a dark, blasphemous night full of rain and eldritch horrors when I stumbled across the Lovecraft Arts & Sciences bookshop deep in the heart of the New England city of Arkham, but it was a bright, cool summer morning in Providence when we poked our heads inside, right before we headed to the beach. Still, it was a fun visit, though a quick one, and if you’re a fan of Lovecraft and passing through town, it’s a required stop. 

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A Review of Book Culture on Columbus

A Review of Book Culture on Columbus

450 Columbus Ave., New York, NY

Book Culture has a few locations throughout New York City, and the one I visited was a short walk from the American Museum of Natural History, or as I always called it, “the museum with the dinosaur bones.” A very technical and precise term. But anyway, this bookshop felt like the kind of store you’d go to in order to get a book for yourself and a gift for someone else, or vice versa. I don’t mean that in a bad way at all, because if you don’t find a book you want, there are almost as many gifts as books, about a 50/50 split, making it much harder to walk out the door without something someone in your life would enjoy.

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A Bookshop Interview with Kenning JP Garcia

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I first met Kenning Jean-Paul García at the St. Rocco reading series xe helps organize and immediately appreciated xyr wit, creativity, and sense of humor, not to mention an exceptional insight into linguistics, literature, and unpretentious beer. I assure you, getting to share a tallboy of PBR after a poetry reading with JP is always a great time. Xe took a few moments to talk about xyr favorite bookshop (a comic shop, which cannot be overlooked when it comes to storytelling and creativity!) and in turn I’m more than happy to share zyr latest book, OF: What Place Meant, which is now available! Be sure to check it out!

Favorite Bookshop: Earthworld Comics in Albany, NY

1. How did you discover the shop?

Sadly, I had to discover Earthworld Comics due to the closing of Fantaco Comics. I knew that Earthworld existed but I was a hardcore Fantaco fan. That's where the goths, punks, and hardcore geeks went. It was our place but eventually they went out of business. Then after a few years of not being able to really afford comics I was a bit ahead financially and I had some newer and younger friends who never went to Fantaco. They were like this is the place and it certainly is.

2. What part of the shop is your favorite? What's it like to walk through?

I love the back wall where the indie trade paperbacks are. I love seeing what I might have missed from Dynamite, Boom, Oni and others. This and the bargain bins always get me. I like a good deal and if a comic is good it can be read years after its initial publication. So, I get a few throwback volumes when I can from the bargain bins. As for a walk-through, first you get the DC/Marvel shelves and the new releases. It's cool. I mean, great art on the covers and all the popular heroes. Then you go further back for the new release indie comics. As well as some alphabetized characters and titles in with the mainstream releases, like my boys, Jughead and the Shadow, or my homegirls, Vampirella, Red Sonja and crossing my fingers for the return of Jennifer Blood. But, really every good trip to the shop starts and ends with a rundown of what's new and what I missed from the staff. Always knowledgeable and they know what I like. It's a nerdy neighborhood vibe. We all kind of know each other by face and by tastes if not by names.

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

I bought the entire run of New 52's Swamp Thing as well as all of my Vampirella titles And this is where I really fell in love with my favorite superqueero - Midnighter. Steve Orlando (who also resides in the Capital Region) wrote the New 52 run and it was magical.

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

The staff and selection make it special. I can find a lot of these books at Barnes and Noble but they don't have the pins. I'm a sucker for a new pin. My bags are all adorned in comic book pins. I'm always on the look out for a new pin. This adds a little something special to the place in addition to the comics and graphic novels. The other thing is, they do a good job of ordering based upon customer requests. I never leave there empty-handed and I often return specifically to pick up something that they ordered for me. It's monthly event for me and something that I set aside money and time for in my budget. In my opinion it's one of the great shops around this country. It's up there with some of the big city shops.

BIO: Kenning Jean-Paul García is a diarist, humorist, antipoet, and editor living in Albany, NY after growing up in Brooklyn and Queens. Xe spent most of xyr life in the restaurant industry and holds a bachelor's degree in Linguistics.  In addition to being the editor at Rigorous, the Operating System, and Five 2 One, xyr work has also been featured in BlazeVOX, eccolinguistics, Brooklyn Rail, Horse Less Review and Dream Pop. Slow Living is also available from West Vine Press along with They Say and Never Read.

(I definitely swiped the photo of the shop from the Fresh Comics website, so check them out too.)

A Review of the Montague Bookmill

A Review of the Montague Bookmill

440 Greenfield Rd. Montague, MA

How absolutely perfect that this shop’s motto is “Books you don’t need in a place you can’t find,” as we had to twist and turn our way through memory and Google directions to finally emerge from the wooded glens of the Pioneer Valley and pull into the large dirt parking lot across the street from this former mill bustling with activity and creative offerings. I was taken by the Montague Bookmill at first sight and thought, Oh how very much I want all the things within that I don’t need, and so will you when you track down this wonderful bookshop.

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A Review of Books of Wonder

A Review of Books of Wonder

217 W 84th Street, New York, NY

There’s a special kind of charm that children’s bookshops have, something about the mix of nostalgia for the books you loved to read when growing up and the new books waiting for the young audiences of today and tomorrow all shelved together. I like browsing kid’s bookshops because I have nieces and nephews who like to read and a mother obsessed with Nancy Drew and shopping for them is fun, and that’s not to mention my own appetite for the books of my youth. I have a list of them on my phone that I watch out for, and you can bet I had that list at the ready when I walked through the doors of Books of Wonder.

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A Review of Raven Used Books

A Review of Raven Used Books

4 Old South Street, Northampton, MA

Walking through the clustered bars and busy restaurants of downtown Northampton long after dark, long after our first, second, maybe third drink, we came upon the storefront for Raven Used Books by accident, as I was only in town for the night and had no idea it was waiting for me. We eagerly detoured our journey to the next bar to explore the rooms and aisles of this lovely, lively shop. My only regret was that we couldn’t stay long, because the sheer volume of interesting books at excellent values could have kept me for hours.

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10 Best Used Bookshops in the Capital Region

10 Best Used Bookshops in the Capital Region

Independent Bookstore Day 2019 is upon us, and to celebrate I thought I’d share some of my favorite bookstores in the Albany/Capital Region. Now I should note that my idea of the Capital Region might differ from yours. If I can drive there within an hour or so from downtown Albany, you’re in. There are plenty of great shops right on that line that didn’t make it, and some well within that range who didn’t make it either, but I had the draw the line and decide on my own personal favorites. Here’s what I came up with. The most important thing is this: support your local indie bookshops, whoever they are!  

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10 Best New Bookshops in the Capital Region

10 Best New Bookshops in the Capital Region

Independent Bookstore Day 2019 is upon us, and to celebrate I thought I’d share some of my favorite bookstores in the Albany/Capital Region. Now I should note that my idea of the Capital Region might differ from yours. If I can drive there within an hour or so from downtown Albany, you’re in. There are plenty of great shops right on that line that didn’t make it, and some well within that range who didn’t make it either, but I had the draw the line and decide on my own personal favorites. Here’s what I came up with. The most important thing is this: support your local indie bookshops, whoever they are!  

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A Bookshop Interview with Sam Slaughter

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Sam Slaughter is a Food & Drink Editor for the men’s lifestyle magazine, The Manual, and spirits work has appeared in MaximBloombergThe Bitter SouthernerThirsty, and elsewhere. His debut short story collection God in Neon was published in 2016 by Lucky Bastard Press, and his first cocktail book,  Are You Afraid of the Dark Rum? and Other Cocktails for 90’s Kids will be published by Andrews-McMeel in June 2019. I’m delighted he took a few minutes to tell me about one of his favorite places to buy books.

Favorite Bookshop: McKay’s Books in Greensboro, NC

1. How did you discover the shop?

In college, a professor mentioned that there was a used book store down the road in Greensboro. One weekend afternoon, my roommate and I decided to go. It was love at first sight.

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

Being a used bookstore, there’s a ton of stuff, from books (obviously) to vinyl, video games, DVDs, you name it. I used to love start at the front in the fiction section and working my way down the aisle, then turning around and walking back up the other side, going through each little cubby to see what was there. One of my favorite things is that the entire store is, in a way, a treasure hunt. If there are multiple versions of a book, chances are that they are going to be different prices. This makes you want to keep hunting, just in case.

After working through the fiction I’d head down the stairs to the food & drink books to see if there were any cookbooks I was into. Those were the two main sections for me, but I’d also check out the anthropology/sociology section (one of my college majors) and the comedy section. There was also a free section, and you could sometimes get some cool stuff there.

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

I bought most of my collection of contemporary southern fiction there. Ron Rash, Barry Hannah, et cetera. I also got a number of Best American collections there that I still have.

4. What is it about the shop that makes you love it? What really makes the place unique?

As I mentioned above, it’s the treasure hunt thing that gets me every time. I love going through everything, not only to find great books, but to see if I can find a better deal on the book.

In terms of uniqueness, McKay’s has a couple locations, and at this point I’ve been to 3 of them. Each store has completely different inventory that changes all the time. Even if you went back two days in a row, chances are you’d find some new stuff.

For more by Sam, visit his site at http://www.thesamslaughter.com.