Posts Tagged ‘Concord’

The first bookstore I’ll highlight in this series is the Concord Bookshop, right on Main Street in Concord Center.  You have to picture what a Main Street would look like in a Norman Rockwell painting, modernize it just a tad, and you’ve got present-day Concord Center.  Truly, drivers stop for pedestrians not only when they’re in the crosswalk, but also when they’re on the sidewalk near the crosswalk! 

We can walk to the center from home, about a mile; often I have a parade of bikes and strollers with me, but we get there despite the circus!  If you’re driving, there are meters on the street, and a few municipal lots as well.  Unfortunately, public transportation is scarce, unless you consider the blue trolley that runs seasonally and stops at many historic sites around Lexington and Concord.

We have a routine of places to visit when we’re downtown; one of our favorite stops is the Concord Bookshop.  They have three huge plate glass windows in front, with eye-catching displays.  The windows are updated weekly, with themed windows, newly-published books, local interest, etc.  In nice weather, the sidewalk in front holds several wheeled carts with overstocks and remainders to lure you in.  You’ll find bookcases and tables in front, a large periodical section (have you noticed fewer and fewer outlets for periodicals these days?  I’m talking about more niche titles, that you can’t find in the check-out line at the grocery store!), and gift items such as journals, greeting cards and calendars. 

The center of the store has a small open area with some comfy chairs scattered about.  This is where they hold author events – usually on Sunday afternoons.  The current schedule is posted on their website.  I’ve been to readings of The Air We Breathe with author Andrea Barrett, The Rope Walk with Carrie Brown and What the Dickens: The Story of a Rogue Tooth Fairy by local author Gregory Maguire … and I just learned he’ll be appearing again in December with his latest, A Lion Among Men.

The store has a wonderful children’s section toward the back; the booksellers here are as helpful and friendly as elsewhere in the store, able to put the fingers right on the book that I described as “the cat that is mistaken for a hat and travels the world” (The Three-Legged Cat by Margaret Mahy).  The area is bright and accessible, with many outward-facing low shelves, so kids can see the covers!  A back entrance leads from the municipal lot directly into the children’s section; this, coupled with a second register station makes it very convenient when I’m trying to keep the kids tethered to “their” section of the store. 

The Concord Bookshop offers free gift wrap (our local toy shop does too, isn’t this a great time and money saver?!?  The packages always look nicer when someone else wraps them!).  They have a nice customer loyalty program too, with a local twist, of course.  For every $25 spent, you get a Book Buck, which can be used toward a future purchase.  Check out the pictures on the Buck – that’s a book, Henry David Thoreau, and a Minuteman who has put down his musket to read!

Like everything else in this town, the bookstore has its own history – it was founded in 1940 as a bookstore and lending library!  There is a large section dedicated to local history and local authors, both classic and contemporary.  The Concord Bookshop is now owned by three families and employs other booksellers and seasonal help (would I like a part-time job when all the kids are in school?  Yes!)

One thing the bookshop doesn’t offer is any type of book discussion group.  I was disappointed and couldn’t figure out why they wouldn’t have book groups, it seems they could hold them in the same spot that readings take place.  It occurred to me as I was finishing up this post – the sidewalks roll up and everything in the center closes at 6!

This isn’t a bookstore/café, but there are plenty of places to grab a cup of coffee and muffin (or more!) right on the block.  Main Streets Markets, Sally Ann Bake Shop and Helen’s to name a few (just get there before those sidewalks roll up!).  And ice cream, well, that’s another post in and of itself!  If you’re heading this way, let me know and I’ll give you the scoop (sorry, I couldn’t resist!) on ice cream in our town.  Just make sure you finish it before you head into the Bookshop!

Have any of you been to our town and visited the Concord Bookshop?  A month or so ago the Boston Bibliophile mentioned it in a post about a Sunday afternoon outing; she seconds my comments about the helpful and knowledgeable staff (and the antique shops in town, there’s another draw for you!)

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An article in today’s Boston Globe, titled Shelf Life, expounds on the treasure trove of artifacts to be found in local libraries.  Aside from the possibility of rare books and historic documents, many libraries house other significant items in their special collections.

Our local library, the Concord Free Public Library, sits on the site of the Mary Merrick Brooks home.  Brooks was “a radical abolitionist and associate of William Lloyd Garrison.”  The house was part of the Underground Railroad in the mid-1800s.

Today’s library building boasts  paintings of N. C. Wyeth as part of its extensive art collection.    The surveying compass and tripod used by Henry David Thoreau is stored there; many people don’t realize that the well-known writer and naturalist made his living as a surveyor for the town.  Original manuscripts of Emerson and Thoreau are in the climate-controlled safe, along with other documents of historic and literary significance.

Many libraries have extensive art collections and items of interest to a genealogist or biographer, such as grave records and family histories.  Even written records that may seem mundane today, such as town archives and scrapbooks, are preserved for the reference of future researchers.

What significant items does your local library house?  You may be surprised at the treasures lurking there!

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The sun finally came out today, after two full days of cold rainy weather; with temps expected to reach 90 this afternoon, crowds came out early to beat the heat at the Friends of the Library Book Sale.  There were over 20,000 books, with a silent auction of collectible books beginning at 8:30, followed by a live auction at 9:30, then the ropes went down and the sale was open to the public.  What a group of enthusiastic readers!  Since our library is in town, the occasional lucky tourist found their way to the library lawn — history and books, what a great combination!

I tried to restrain myself, and kept to the “local interest” tables, while my 12-year-old perused the “young adult” section.  These are the titles I walked away with:

The first three are out-of-print; used copies are available on-line.  The fourth is a work of fiction; it seems like a quick read, and I think I’ll enjoy the peppering of local sites and attractions as background for the mystery.

If you are anywhere near upper Fairfield County Connecticut during the second week of July, check out the HUGE book sale put on the Friends of the C. H. Booth Library in Newtown.  This is a 5-day event, with an extensive selection books in every category.  The event is incredibly-well organized; book sorters continuously re-shelve books that have been taken out of place, and the scores of volunteers are helpful and easy-to-find in their fashionable “book sale” t-shirts.  Other conveniences include ample parking, food vendors, restrooms, and acceptance of credit cards and personal checks.  As the sale wears on, book prices drop to half the sale price on Monday, $5 for a bag of books on Tuesday, and FREE on Wednesday!  I think we picked up every Berenstain Bear  and Magic School Bus book there one year; a great (and inexpensive) way to add to the kids’ book collections. 

Do you like used book sales, or are you a “new or nothing” purist for your bookshelf?  I’m fond of them, especially for the children’s early readers and book series that my kids enjoy.  I also like to look at the small cookbooks that some churches and other orginations publish as fundraisers; I’m known to leaf through them, searching for my Grammy’s lost recipe for hermits!

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I live in Concord, Mass., a town about 20 miles west of Boston.  Rich in revolutionary and literary history, it has been home to Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne and the Alcott family.  The quote “She is too fond of books and it has addled her brain” is from Work:  A Story of Experience by Louisa May Alcott .

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