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.
This visit started out a little awkwardly, however, as after wandering the front alcoves and aisles where the history and gift books are on display, a couple staffers came up to ask why I was taking notes. They seemed to warm up to the idea of my snooping around with camera and notepad, but it was the first time I felt a little “put on the spot” about it. Once left to my browsing, I rediscovered why the shop is such a great one. The rooms and alcoves of books both new and old keep going and going, twisting around in a big loop on multiple levels.
The topics and genres cover a huge range too, everything from travel and language to political science and sports, outdoors, gardening, crafting, biographies, health and medicine, science and religious (Christian, Zen, so on), New England and regional history, war and presidents, music and film, on and on. The fiction areas were just as fulfilling, with sections for mystery and crime, fantasy and sci-fi, horror, and then a large room with multiple alcoves for poetry, plays, and lots of general fiction, and each section has discounted recent titles as well, many half off. This is always something I look for in a bookshop, and Northshire has it covered.
Upstairs is a whole floor for children’s books, toys, gifts, anything you can imagine for a curious child, plus a big area for readings and events. There’s a coffee shop on the ground floor too, and multiple areas dedicated to gifts, stickers, clothing, records and movies. The shop really does have it all. I highly recommend a drive out to see for yourself. I even stopped in next door for an ice cream cone afterward and enjoyed the beautiful view from a park bench. What a perfect way to end a day of bookshop hunting. Get there!
Atmosphere — Large bustling shop with plenty of areas to explore and lots of events happening year round.
Quality — High quality books throughout, even in the used sections.
Quantity — It’s a big shop with plenty to explore, and a large used area too.
Diversity — The range is one of the best, and the displays are packed with new and vital editions.
Affordability — Considering they have both discounted new titles and a large used section, you’ll be able to browse without worrying about the wallet.
Amenities — There are plenty of comfy chairs, a coffee house inside, event space, lots of amenities here.
Location — In Manchester, Vermont, about twenty minutes north of Bennington, a beautiful drive from the Albany area.
Customer Service — While they initially seemed to question why I was taking notes about their books, they were friendly and attentive overall.
Overall — This is one of the best shops in Vermont and the upstate New York region. Plan a visit as soon as you can!