252 Main Street, Great Barrington, MA
I stopped into Yellow House books on a busy Saturday afternoon before catching a movie in downtown Great Barrington, and though it was only a few rooms large, Yellow House was filled up with book lovers and casual shoppers giving it a lively feel. The shop shares a porch with a small clothing store, but there’s no missing the distinctive yellow paint of this literary domicile. So when you spot it, just climb those steps and go right on in!
The first room made a positive first impression, with a ring of shelves centered around a towering display in the middle. This room had an eclectic mix of topics and genres, from graphic novels, mystery, and sci-fi to gardening, poetry, and art, lots and lots of art, with many big coffee table books. The majority of the books skewed older, all used and some quite rare, and the prices seemed fair.
The next room focused on religious books, from Christian and Judaism to Buddhism and Hinduism, as well as some psychology and philosophy titles. There were also children’s books, with selections from older series and plenty of picture books for younger kids. I didn’t see too much in the way of YA or older teen novels, but maybe I missed them. It was a quick visit (I was running behind for that film) and I didn’t linger too long in this second room, which also included some signed copies and antique books of all sorts, not just kids.
The back room was the best fit for my tastes, focusing on literary fiction and mass markets. This room had a few stools and that great old book smell really doing its best job to make me want to stay and browse, and I did for as long as I could. The room included a solid selection of well known fiction titles, classics, and older bestsellers, all taking up half of this larger space. The other half of the room was dedicated to nonfiction, mostly history, war, biography, and a smattering of other topics. Like I said, if I had more time, I’m sure I would have found something here missing from my shelves at home. As it was, nothing in particular caught my eye by the time I had to bolt. Maybe next time!
Atmosphere — A busy little shop focusing on older used and rare books with a pleasant array of titles, including some quirky harder to find books up front among the older sci-fi and art selections.
Quality — The books lean older, so don’t expect too many brand new bestsellers to leap out at you, but in shops like this, you never know what you’ll find.
Quantity — Some sections are small (sci fi, mystery, etc.) and some are large (art, fiction) so it depends on what you’re looking for. But there are lots within the three rooms to keep you busy as you shop downtown Great Barrington.
Diversity — Like I said, the diversity ranges depending on your needs. The fiction sections is solid but not vast, with minimal genre subcategories. The nonfiction is the same, heavier toward history and biography.
Affordability — They’re all used so the prices are better than you’ll find in a new shop, but nothing jumped out as an absolute steal in my brief visit.
Amenities — There was a chair or two, but that’s all.
Location — Great Barrington is a neat little town with restaurants, shops, movies, a couple pubs, and this shop is right downtown with them. It’s a bit of a drive from Albany or Springfield, bordering on an hour away, but if you bundle other things to do in your daytrip, it’s worth it.
Customer Service — There was a clerk at the desk in the front room watching customers but I was in and out.
Overall — I didn’t find much for me here, nothing I didn’t already have, but it was fun to browse and I would have stayed longer if I had the time. The books lean older but there were some fun, unique ones scattered through the classics and the usual suspects. If you’re in the area, stop in!