Five Bookstores in Boston

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Xpuctoc Bockpece! I’m back from a Holy Week/Pascha hiatus. Life is unbelievably good right now. I hope yours is the same.

Today we’re going to pretend that I only like indie bookshops and stay far, far away from the convenience of the Barnes and Noble Starbucks cafe at the Pru (chai tea what-te?). If we lived in a world where I didn’t frequently cave into corporate America, here’s where I would spend all my time.

1. Trident Booksellers and Cafe: I have always loved the Trident, from the time I discovered it in high school, through late nights waiting for the bus back to Wellesley, to now when I take all my best friends and dates there. Grab a cup of their fantastic hot chocolate while you plan a trip along the Trans-Siberian railway… (or is that just me and Kate?) I love that they have a mix of cheap books (on sale and Dover thrift) as well as nicer editions to peruse.  They also have a terrific drama section. It’s a fantastic place to while away an afternoon.

2. Raven Used Books: I’m kind of cheating on this one, since I actually prefer the Cambridge store. Raven has a small but delightfully eclectic selection. It’s well organized, bright, clean, and has a strangely large collection of Marxist literature (or at least it did last time I was there).  It’s all used books (obvi), so you can find some great deals- especially on their $3 book rack A refuge amidst the bustle of Newbury Street, but sadly lacking in comfy chairs.

3. Commonwealth Books: I get lost in this place every time I go. Commonwealth Books sells used and rare books and prints. There are two outposts, one by the State St. T stop, the other tucked around the corner across from (I think?) The Body Shop. I strongly recommend the latter. It’s a jumbled up treasure trove. My favorite “print” is the 13th (maybe 14th?) century page from the Psalter, but they have a large selection of maps, etc. The books are fairly well organized and moderately priced for used. What’s incredible is the selection. It’s not especially hard to find anything, and they have just about everything you want, but the store gives you the feeling of being lost in some old professor’s personal library. The cat wandering around is a nice plus.

4. Pazzo Books: A shout out to my local West Roxbury bookseller. Pazzo books is too small to get lost in, but otherwise reminds me a lot of Commonwealth Books. You’re greeted with a $1 book rack outside- always welcome- and wander into narrow lanes of tall shelves and a wide range of categories. They have a very decent selection and sell both in store and online. Prices are quite good, the stock has regular turn over, and the children’s section is better than any of our local toy stores. Recent finds here include a Salinger book of Arthurian legends- who knew?

5. Comicopia: Yes, I read graphic novels. Just try to tell me that Neil Gaiman’s Sandman isn’t a brilliant piece of literature. Comicopia is in sort of a weird spot as you wander up Comm Ave towards Kenmore Square. I love it because a) it is nerd heaven   b) they sell t-shirts and Pocky   c) they don’t force manga on you   d) the staff is incredibly knowledgeable and helpful and way way happy to make recommendations based on your tastes    and  e) they have a staff-recommended section where, if you buy the reduced priced book and don’t like it, you can return it with no questions asked.  I’ve acquired most of my graphic novel staples here, as well as a few weird manga that I’ve ended up enjoying (Monster, Dragon Head). Go! Visit!

That’s all for now, folks. Kali Anastasi!

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