A key element of a happy summer is visiting a new or favorite independent bookstore – with an unlimited amount of time. Luckily, our summer included a visit to one of the best stores in the country – Northshire Bookstore in Manchester, Vermont. A few years ago, after many fellow readers recommended Northshire to us, we went to the store and knew immediately that it was a special place. You could feel it as soon as you walked in the door. As we drove into Manchester last week, I was fearful that that it would not be the place I remembered – that it wouldn’t hold up to my idealized memories. But it does – and our three visits over two days were some of the best hours of the summer.
My husband and I have different approaches. He covered about a third of the store during each visit – going slowly, section by section, and never looking ahead. I’m the opposite. Within five minutes of walking through the front door, I had been to every corner of the first floor and checked out the children’s section on the second floor. I need to see the layout and make a plan. For example, after seeing the huge selection of children’s and young adult books, I knew that would require a dedicated visit.
Here are some pictures from the first floor which includes lots of regional books and gifts – even some Bernie Sanders swag!
What made my visit to the children’s section so memorable was talking with Aubrey, one of the children’s department’s booksellers. We discussed Rebecca Stead’s new novel, Goodbye Stranger, Mosquitoland by David Arnold, The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benajamin (which I’m reading now), and George by Alex Gino. It was fun to exchange quick reviews, recommendations, and favorites with someone so knowledgeable and enthusiastic.
Another highlight of our summer was the Roz Chast exhibit at the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. I’ve always loved her funny and wise New Yorker cartoons about stress and anxiety, and last year’s graphic memoir about the death of her parents, Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant, is one of the most honest and beautiful books I’ve ever read. So when I heard there was a major exhibit of Chast’s work in Stockbridge, I was committed to seeing it.
I took some pictures, but it’s on display until October 26 – so if you’re traveling in the Berkshires…
Link to information about the exhibit:
One thing I noticed during our short trip to Vermont is that it seems to be a place where people go after most of us think they are gone. The Kipling sign is in front of a parking space. And Elvis apparently lives in a post office:
And, finally, the other day I looked at two books I had put aside to read next. Look at the colors! Different publishers – but clearly the colors to use on middle grade book covers right now….