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.
When you walk in, the clerk’s desk is to the immediate left, and it was rare to see him sitting alone, as visitor after visitor came in to say hello, sit a spell, and talk about local news or book orders they placed. The desk is directly across from a sitting area on your right near the door, where there are two chairs and shelves of books about music, theater, and rock and roll biographies, not to mention some shirts and gifts.
Further back in that main room I found history sections on the left, a long table full of assorted new nonfiction, collections of essays, short stories, and novels, and I picked up a curious little hardcover novel called Rules for a Knight by Ethan Hawke. Further along there were horror titles, sci-fi, and walls of your general sort of fiction and literary titles. There was also a small staircase leading to a half-floor up where the children’s books were kept, everything from picture books to chapter titles and some YA. The main room also contained a shelf full of Edith Wharton titles, books by her and about her, as Lenox is home to Wharton’s Berkshire estate, The Mount.
You’ll find the wine bar off in a side room. It’s not huge but there’s enough space for a half dozen people to sit and sample a selection of reds and whites. There are a lot more books back there too, mystery and crime, sports and outdoors, books about writing and writers, poetry, religion, zen, new age, LGBT titles, and more. If you have the time, this bookshop will help you fill it, and though I wanted to linger, I had a long list of shops to hit and I had to keep moving. But if you’re anywhere near Lenox, I highly recommend you stop by, say hello to the friendly gentleman at the front of the shop, and browse to your heart’s delight—and grab a glass of red while you’re at it.
Atmosphere — Set in the middle of a small town hub of shops and cafes, The Bookstore is a bustling shop in a with plenty of books, places to lounge, sociability, and a small wine bar in the side room.
Quality — The books were new and of top quality.
Quantity — The shop is only two rooms but they’re filled with shelves and tables, with plenty of books to keep you browsing.
Diversity — They had a pretty nice balance of fiction, general non, current topics, children books, religion, poetry, music, horror, sci-fi, mystery, plus a section dedicated to Edith Wharton, a bit of everything.
Affordability — New books mean typical new book pricing.
Amenities — How many bookshops do you know that have a wine bar? It was a small bar and nobody was drinking while I was there but I bet it makes a great addition to any event or reading. There were plenty of chairs for lounging around the shop, as well.
Location — Set in downtown Lenox, a quaint little commercial center not far from Tanglewood. It seemed like the kind of town that might empty out after 5 pm, but it was bustling on a sunny spring Saturday.
Customer Service — The one employee I met was friendly, knowledgeable, and had a few long conversations with a number of visitors, and many of them had ordered books and were there to pick them up.
Overall — This shop felt like a social and literary hub, with plenty of visitors, an excellent array of books, plus a wine bar, which was small but, hell, it’s wine and books together. Touch combination to beat. I highly recommend this shop if you’re anywhere near western Massachusetts.