Bookshop Review

A Review of Westsider Rare & Used Books

A Review of Westsider Rare & Used Books

2246 Broadway, New York, NY

I hadn’t wandered the Upper West Side of Manhattan in about ten years, and I mean really wander, spiraling the blocks on foot, coming into sight of Central Park before turning back toward the Hudson River, reaching squares and intersections midway where you can spin in place and see both boundaries. In that regard, the UWS really does feel like its own separate world, its own town, connected to Harlem and Hell’s Kitchen by the 1, the A, and so on. And if that were the case, Westsider Books would be the home of the literary fringe element in town, the place where hopeless poets, serious antiquarians, outsiders, punks, professors, and meticulous collectors would gather to browse and feel at home among the towering stacks of books.

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A Review of Chapter Two Books  

A Review of Chapter Two Books   

37 Spring Street, Williamstown, MA

Williamstown is a gorgeous little spot tucked into the rocky hills and sweeping valleys of northwestern Massachusetts. The town is home to prestigious institutions such as Clark Art and Williams College, the latter being particularly important as Williams is Williamstown, and vice versa. At least it always felt that way to me. Driving through town you find regal older homes, towering brick halls, and stylized glass structures, all seemingly connected to one of the two organizations that make the town so unique, and they all surround the small downtown strip that makes up the social and commercial hub: Spring Street. With cafes, gift shops, a college bookstore, an ice cream stand, a small movie house, and a pub, Spring Street has enough to keep most students and locals occupied on any given day, but with the addition of Chapter Two Books, a new bookshop in Williamstown, there’s an extra reason for bookworms in the area to drive out and enjoy a few hours in this picturesque college town.    

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A Review of Rodgers Book Barn

A Review of Rodgers Book Barn

467 Rodman Road, Hillsdale, NY

It took us a while to weave through the countryside of Columbia County, backtracking down a few wrong turns on dirt roads, but at long last, we stopped in front of the unassuming wood barn along the edge of the road with a sign out front reading Rogers Book Barn. The sign included different summer and winter hours, but it’s a solid bet to be open on a Saturday afternoon no matter what time of year you arrive. And I’m very thankful they were open, because this shop wasn’t just worth the drive, it was a delight to explore.

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A Review of Inquiring Minds Bookstore & Cafe

A Review of Inquiring Minds Bookstore & Cafe

200 Main Street, Saugerties, NY (I have also seen the address listed as 68 and 65 Partition Street)

This shop more than any other has come up as a prime recommendation by most locals I talk to, so I was happy to finally drop in on a rainy weekend this winter. Located on a busy corner in downtown Saugerties, NY (which has a lot more going for it than I expected), Inquiring Minds Bookstore falls into what I’ve come to think of as the “Ideal” type of bookshop. Not only are they an excellent supplier of books, but they feel like the kind of community bookstore that also serves as the social hub of town, and that’s how a shop can go from great to magical.

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A Review of Half Moon Books

A Review of Half Moon Books

35 N. Front Street, Kingston, NY

I stopped into this curious little shop at the end of a long day of browsing, and even though I was getting tired after trekking through the rain and wind, this shop still surprised me with their eclectic selection and the deep cuts they had hidden within. And the books were organized in interesting ways too, like the excellent cultural- and science-focused section called “smart, but not exhausting.” They really make good use of their space and there’s a lot more happening inside than you may expect at first glance. They have a thrift shop too, so if you go I assure you that you’ll be in for a pretty diverse mix of topics and editions.

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A Review of Three Lives & Company

A Review of Three Lives & Company

154 W 10th Street, New York, NY

This corner shop has been selling new hardcovers and paperbacks to locals since the late 1960s, and I only stumbled across it by accident while wandering Greenwich Village looking for a different shop on my “To Review” list. I’m happy to have made the discovery, because while it’s not a large shop, it is certainly packed with an excellent selection of new books, classic titles, and unique authors. And readers as well. That was something they had plenty of.

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A Review of Our Bookshop

A Review of Our Bookshop

97 Partition Street, Saugerties, NY

I drove to Saugerties on a cold, rainy Saturday to visit the Inquiring Minds Bookshop (which I will review in another post) when I saw this shop located just down the same street, not far from where I parked. I’ll never turn down a two-for-one bookshop hunting trip, and I was not disappointed by what I found. What Our Bookshop may lack in the latest bestsellers, they more than make up for in vintage and unique titles and excellent deals on used books, records, and comics.

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A Review of Rough Draft Bar & Books

A Review of Rough Draft Bar & Books

82 John Street, Kingston, NY

I’ve been proud to shine a spotlight on a handful of bookshop / bar combinations in the past, and even a couple wine shop and bookseller combos too, but when it comes to putting a pint, a bite, and a book in front of a casual browser, Rough Draft is the top of the pile. At least so far, though I think they’ll be tough to beat. I stopped in on a rainy Saturday recently and it was such a warm, charming, bustling respite that I didn’t want to leave.

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A Review of Everyone's Books

A Review of Everyone's Books

25 Elliot Street, Brattleboro, VT

This shop bills itself as “Everybody’s Bookshop – For Social Justice and the Earth,” and that should tell you everything you need to know about its unique take on bookselling and the role it plays in the Brattleboro community. More than any other shop in the southern Vermont area, Everybody’s Bookshop has made a name for itself as a progressive, enlightened, and open-minded bastion for those interested in the literary, political, and philanthropic aspects of life.

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A Review of Word

A Review of Word

126 Franklin Street, Greenpoint, Brooklyn, NY

During my five years living in NYC, I briefly stayed in a warehouse loft a short walk away from Word for approximately six months, and I made it my business to stop in to browse their new selection of books at least every other week, if only for the atmosphere and the comfort of being in a literary space so close to “home,” no matter how temporary a home it was. I was able to get back to the old neighborhood for a visit last month and was very happy to see they were open late into the evening.

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A Review of BOOK OFF

A Review of BOOK OFF

9 W 45th Street, New York, NY

About six years ago I worked a block from this multimedia shop, which stands within the general sphere of the Times Square area of Manhattan, and I used to make a habit of going about once a week. While it’s not my favorite bookstore, I went that often for two reasons: dollar books, and deeply discounted classic movies. I recently passed by on a NYC visit and I stopped in to see if the place held up after all this time, and it certainly does.

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A Review of The Spotty Dog Books & Ale

A Review of The Spotty Dog Books & Ale

440 Warren Street, Hudson, NY

A good beer and a good book go together so well, but it’s not very often you see them sold together. The Spotty Dog does just that, but they don’t stop there. This bookshop bar combo also sells art supplies, holds incredible readings by writers and poets from all over the map, and they have an incredible selection of books by bestsellers and indie authors alike, making The Spotty Dog a tough shop to beat.

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A Review of Fairview Books

A Review of Fairview Books

424 Fairview Ave., Hudson, NY

Much in the same way that The Bookloft bookshop in Great Barrington, MA is just outside of town in a large strip mall, Fairview Books is just outside of Hudson, NY in a busy strip mall too, but while Bookloft surprised me with the organized presentation of an indie version of Barnes & Noble, Fairview is a different animal altogether, and I’m still not quite sure how to categorize that animal. The shop has unique items and some discounts, but the quality and style are all over the map. This can be good, or not so good, depending on your book shopping needs and expectations.

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A Review of bookbook

A Review of bookbook

266 Bleecker Street, New York, NY

While hustling from Greenwich Village toward the Bowery section of Manhattan a sunny Saturday afternoon, I stumbled across bookbook out of the blue. (Ed. Note: They spell their name lowercased, so that’s not a typo.) I hadn’t heard of it before, despite living in the city for about five years not long ago and having walked up and down Bleecker more times than I can count. Dumbstruck by my ignorance, I walked in and found a real gem of a bookshop. Whatever you do, don’t make my mistake and overlook this place.

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A Review of Half Price Books

A Review of Half Price Books

3207 Broadway, San Antonio, TX

Let me start off by saying that I’m cheating a little here. This blog is about hyping small independent bookshops, and Half Price Books doesn’t reeeeally fall into that category. There are 120 locations (way more than I thought) but I have only ever been to two spots in San Antonio, Texas, and I have loved both. If they sold new books at new prices, I wouldn’t review them. But they sell everything under the literary sun and then some, and all at discounted (sometimes deeply discounted) prices. This place is a treasure trove and you absolutely must do yourself a favor and find one near you.

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A Review of Mystery on Main Street

A Review of Mystery on Main Street

119 Main Street, Brattleboro, VT

I previously reviewed a bookshop with a similar name in Johnstown, NY, but this one out in southeastern Vermont seems to be its own entity, and it had some cool little tricks up its sleeves. Unlike the Johnstown shop, this one actually focuses exclusively on mystery, crime, and noir titles. And being located right in the heart of downtown Brattleboro, surrounded by a plethora of cafes and shops, you can easily work this store into an adventurous afternoon of browsing.

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A Review of Idlewild Books

A Review of Idlewild Books

170 7th Avenue South, New York, NY

There are two branches for this travel-themed shop in greater New York, but on this day I visited the Manhattan/West Village location, with its rounded corner windows turning the little store into a bright and delightful place to browse. As stated, the books are travel related, but they don’t always contain themselves specifically to travel. If that sounds confusing, I assure you, it’s a really wonderful thing.

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A Review of The Twig Book Shop

A Review of The Twig Book Shop

306 Pearl Parkway #106, San Antonio, TX

Since I moved away from San Antonio in 2009, the Pearl Brewery area has absolutely exploded with development, and in a beautiful way. My friend Christina gave me a tour of the new digs, the coffee shops, hotel lobbies, plazas, and of course a beautiful little bookshop. It’s not a huge shop, but it’s a fun one, and fits the aesthetic of the updated neighborhood very well.

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A Review of Magpie Bookshop

A Review of Magpie Bookshop

392 Main Street, Catskill, NY

The small city of Hudson, NY has garnered a lot of attention in recent years as a bustling and growing hotspot for NYC transplants feeding its downtown revival, but just a short drive away and across the Hudson River is a somewhat subtler, quieter town that may be overlooked from time to time, but shouldn’t be. Catskill has a fun little downtown lined with trendy shops, cafes, a movie theater, and yes, an excellent bookshop. Magpie Bookshop is not one to overlook, and mixes small town charm with literary surprises that will make any bookworm happy.

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A Review of Brattleboro Books

A Review of Brattleboro Books

36 Elliot Street, Brattleboro, VT

One of the things that makes downtown Brattleboro such a fun place for a weekend road trip is they have 3-4 bookshops all within about two blocks of each other, and the best one for quality used books is Brattleboro Books. It looks quaint and old-fashioned on the outside, with a dark wood exterior, a lamppost, and antique-looking signage—perhaps something out of a Harry Potter village or a colonial-era downtown—but inside the shop is chock full of all the new, old, and quality goods you’d hope for in a used book shop.

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