One book leads to another...

Friday, April 30, 2021

Common Places - Z


Communal Places for Literary Enthusiasts

Z   In the late 80s, two brothers decided to create a store they’d want to shop in. The two purchased a turn-of-the-century building in downtown Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and spent a year renovating what would become the first home of Zandbroz Variety.  It opened as a bookstore featuring a coffee bar, a soda fountain, and a delightful assortment of all things writerly and creative. The Sioux Falls store was so well received, a second Zandbroz location opened in Fargo, North Dakota just a couple of years later. In addition to new, used, and classic books, both locations offer homemade caramel, stationery, pens, reading glasses, cookbooks, coloring books, candles, cards, jewelry, Story Hours for children, and author book-signings. *The Sioux Falls location offers amazing window displays. Both stores offer a wide variety of highly unique gifts, antiques, and collectibles.

Sioux Falls, South Dakota

Fargo, North Dakota


“We read to know we are not alone.” ~ C.S. Lewis


Thursday, April 29, 2021

Common Places - Y


Communal Places for Literary Enthusiasts

Y   The architecture alone is enough to invoke a gasp of awe. Perched on four corner piers, the six-story windowless building appears to hover just above ground level. Walls of translucent marble provide subdued yet sufficient light for viewing while assuring the preservation of the precious documents contained within. And that’s only the beginning.

As the second-largest academic library in North America, Yale University’s Beinecke Rare Books and Manuscripts Library goes to unimaginable lengths to protect its treasured books. It is not only under constant video surveillance; in the case of a fire, you have 30 seconds to evacuate before a lethal fire-suppressing gas floods the area. Any other threat to the priceless collection will cause the glass and metal cube structure they are encased in to drop into an underground vault which sucks all the oxygen from the air as it descends.  I’m not sure I could bring myself to touch anything, but what a magical place!


   “Walking the stacks in a library, running your fingers across the spines, it’s hard not to feel the presence of sleeping spirits.” ~ Robin Sloan                       

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Common Places - X


Communal Places for Literary Enthusiasts

X   Xenia Carnegie Library, Ohio  - Attended by everyone who was anyone, the public opening in 1906 was a grand affair brought about by a small group of literary enthusiasts who asked for and obtained a grant from the Andrew Carnegie Library program. As electricity was not yet widely available, construction of the Xenia library included usage of cut-glass material for the second floor so that light from the roof dome would illuminate both floors.  By 1920, additional library branches were added across the county, and a bookmobile was purchased to transport books between them.  A tornado in 1974 caused significant damage to the original building and destroyed thousands of books. Repairs were made on the roof and stained glass dome, but in 1978 the (original) Xenia Carnegie Library was deemed “too small for the growing community” and shuttered as a new and more modern library building was completed downtown. With the honorable persistence of volunteers from the Carnegie Historic district, the original building was entered into the National Registry of Historic Places in 2015.

“A library outranks any other one thing a community can do to benefit its people. It is a never failing spring in the desert.” ~ Andrew Carnegie


Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Common Places - W


Communal Places for Literary Enthusiasts

W  The oldest library (1885) in Indiana is still quenching literary thirsts in Evansville while attracting the attention of paranormal enthusiasts nationwide. In fact, ghost cams are set up throughout the Victorian Gothic-style building so that at-home ghost hunters might catch a glimpse of what goes on inside the historic Willard Library.   Considered to be one of the most haunted libraries in the United States, it was “The Grey Lady” who made the Willard library famous. Believed to be the daughter of the library founder, the Grey Lady seems reluctant to leave the building, though it wasn’t left to her in her father’s will. After being featured on “Ghost Hunters,” the library began offering annual tours around Halloween (of course!). On Halloween night of 1999 so many people tried to access the library ghost cams that all internet service to and from Evansville crashed.

“Believe nothing you hear, and only one half that you see,” ~ Edgar Allen Poe

Monday, April 26, 2021

Common Places - V


Communal Places for Literary Enthusiasts

V   Located right on the square in downtown Baraboo, WI. The Village Booksmith is a booklover’s delight! Pleasantly tucked in a quaint and cozy setting is a veritable cache of new, used, rare, and hard-to-find titles, collectible postcards, board books for kids – and antiques! Comfortable chairs and coffee or tea further enhance the experience as any one of many events take place. Events (check ahead for schedules) include poetry readings, Doomsday, Toast of the Town, Surrealist Night, and music. They do not offer internet sales, but welcome in-person purchases. Contact-less pick-up and local bicycle delivery is available. They are officially closed on Sundays – unless the door is unlocked ;-)


“If you don’t like to read, you haven’t found the right book.” ~ J.K. Rowling

Saturday, April 24, 2021

Common Places - U


Communal Places for Literary Enthusiasts

Highly acclaimed and declared the oldest independent bookstore in Dublin, Books Upstairs (I couldn’t resist!) is just as described; upstairs, in a vintage Georgian building that “feels like a house” as you wander the well-stocked rooms. With an emphasis on humanities, especially Irish literature, poetry, culture, and history, Books Upstairs proudly offers the best in Irish and international literature. There are bargains to be found in the basement. Friendly, dedicated staff members are eager to assist in any way  - even if it’s only to steer you to the narrow staircase that leads to a lovely literary café that serves banana bread and so much more in an authentic tea-time atmosphere. Be advised there is no Wi-Fi or phones allowed because they encourage engaging conversation or tranquil reading.  However, (groan) do check ahead for current hours of operation as they’ve been under strict pandemic restrictions.

“Books are not made for furniture, but there is nothing else that so beautifully furnishes a house” ~ Henry Ward Beecher

Friday, April 23, 2021

Common Places - T


Communal Places for Literary Enthusiasts

T   Title Wave Books in Anchorage, Alaska, is the largest bookstore in Alaska and one of the biggest used bookstores in the country! Inventory changes daily as they buy, sell and trade gently-used books, movies, vinyl LPs, audiobooks, and music CDs. Free events include weekly Writer’s Critique Club meetings, Go Club meetings, Chess and Scrabble game nights, and bi-weekly Children’s Storytime. * Event schedules may vary during the pandemic.

“You’re never alone when you’re reading a book.” Susan Wiggs

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Common Places - S


Communal Places for Literary Enthusiasts

S   Modestly self-proclaimed as a “general bookstore,” Skylight Books in the historic Los Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles is all that and so much more.  Curated literary selections range from fiction and children’s books to California history, social science, art, music, and movies. Their events program is nationally recognized and features prominent touring authors and local favorites and debuts. You can also become a Friend with Benefits member or join the Signed First Edition Club. But, wait! There’s more. They even offer book bouquets for children’s birthdays and a bouquet of poetry books for Poetry Month.


“Some books leave us free and some books make us free.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Common Places - R


Communal Places for Literary Enthusiasts

R    RiverRun Books has a website for ordering books and gift cards, but they’d much rather you come on in and “browse and buy” hand-picked new and used books at their store located at 32 Daniel Street in Portsmouth, NH. They are open full-time again and are ready to recommend your next favorite book. They even have their own publishing project called Piscataqua Press – in case you’ve written someone else’s next favorite book ;-) Oh! If by chance you’ve worn out your old typewriter, they’ll sell you a new one or repair the old one.


“You never have to change anything you got up in the middle of the night to write” ~ Saul Bellow

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Common Places - Q


Communal Places for Literary Enthusiasts

Q   Self-described as a Giftery, Bookery, and a Chocolaterie, The Queen Bee Bookstore in the tight-knit community of Ogden, Utah supports its local schools and the Treehouse Children’s Museum. In addition to selling consigned wares by local artists and artisans, and hosting author events and chocolate tastings. Yes, you read that right, chocolate tastings!


Thought to be the oldest library in the world, al Qarawiyyin Library in Fez, Morroco first opened in 859 CE as part of a complex comprised of a library, a university, and a Mosque.  Much later, the library was closed for several decades to all but a few scholars and students of the adjacent Qarawiyyin University due to extensive water damage by rain run-off from the roof of the next-door Mosque (also named Qarawiyyin). When renovations began in 2012, an underground canal was built below the floors to assuage the water problem. A new Lab was added to assist in the refurbishment; treat, preserve and digitize a few of the oldest texts - some written on camel skin! Much to the surprise and delight of scholars and workers alike, secret rooms and ancient artifacts were discovered during the lengthy renovation. While restoration efforts continue, one entire wing opened to the public in 2017, featuring an exhibition room and a café.


“In a good bookroom you feel in some mysterious way that you are absorbing the wisdom contained in all the books through your skin without even opening them” ~ Mark Twain

Monday, April 19, 2021

Common Places - P


Communal Places for Literary Enthusiasts

P   “Hidden in plain sight,” is how El Pendulo Books, Café and Music of Mexico City has been described. A small arched entrance opens into what one visitor equated to a Hogwarts Library. Featuring books in Spanish and English, from classic to new releases, movies and DVDs, and live music three days a week, El Pendulo is not a quick-stop adventure, it’s an awesome afternoon (or longer) experience – especially since the Café fare isn’t half bad!


“The bookstore and the coffeehouse are natural allies, neither has a time limit, slowness is encouraged” ~ Lewis Buzbee

Saturday, April 17, 2021

Common Places - O


Communal Places for Literary Enthusiasts

O   Voted the best Locally Owned (Independent) Bookstore in uptown New Orleans in 2020, Octavia Books remains open (with restrictions) and ready to entertain with numerous events, and inspire with endless choices for every passionate reader. Quiet areas are provided to enhance the experience of serendipitous pleasures found in the company of books. Extensive browsing is encouraged!

“Bookstores, like libraries, are the physical manifestation of the wide world’s longest, most thrilling conversation” ~ Richard Russo

Friday, April 16, 2021

Common Places - N


Communal Places for Literary Enthusiasts

N  The largest and oldest of five libraries in the Bahamas, Nassau Public Library and Museum once housed the city’s entire criminal population when the octagonal building served as a prison. The passing of the Nassau Public Library act in 1847 saw the atmospheric transformation of a rowdy reformatory into a remarkable repository of historic maps, documents, artifacts, as well as newer books of higher education. Refreshing breezes waft through ground floor windows near quiet reading areas. The second and third floors offer spectacular ocean views above tall palms - however, word on the winds is that while the doors may have closed for the last time in 2018, everything inside was left as it was - just in case.



   Northwind Book & Fiber is a combination independent bookstore and fine yarn shop in Spooner, Wisconsin. Other features include a consignment gallery of local art and jewelry, in addition to toys, games, and puzzles.


More than a store, it’s an experience!

“I love walking into a bookstore. It’s like all my friends are sitting on shelves, waving their pages at me” ~ Tahereh Mafi

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Common Places - M


Communal Places for Literary Enthusiasts

M   The Montague Bookmill is an independent bookstore located inside a converted 1834 grist mill (National Register of Historic places) in the picturesque New England village of Montague, Massachusetts. The charming bookstore’s motto is “Books you don’t need in a place you can’t find” and they claim to have “40 thousand books and one waterfall” Baked goods from the Bookmill’s café are said to be as superior as the views from the bank of the Sawmill River. If, by chance, you’re not yet enchanted, other attractions include fine dining, an art gallery, and a music store.


“Reading is essential for those who seek to rise above the ordinary” ~ Jim Rohn

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Common Places - L


Communal Places for Literary Enthusiasts

L  When Antonio La Cava, a retired school teacher in Basilcata, Italy, realized a need for children to access books, he transformed his three-wheeler into what he calls the Bibliomotocarro (possibly Italy’s smallest library) to deliver books to children in remote communities.

“Without a book, so often a child is alone” ~ Antonio La Cava

  Fun Fact: Benjamin Franklin started his own Lending Library in 1731 (Philadelphia) called the Library Company (he served as a librarian), but it required a subscription fee of 40 shillings. Later, in 1790, one of the oldest libraries in the country opened in Franklin, Massachusetts where residents could borrow books donated by – you guessed it - Benjamin Franklin.


Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Communal Places - K


Communal Places for Literary Enthusiasts

When two writers needed a place to complete their manuscripts, the logical solution for them was to create one - in the form of the King’s English Bookshop. They’ve been “matching books to readers since 1977” and enjoy a strong and beloved presence in their Salt Lake City, UT community. They host numerous events, accept consignments (check guidelines) and remind us that Independent Bookstore Day is April 24th!


“No entertainment is so cheap as reading, nor any pleasure so lasting” ~ Mary Wortley Montagu


Monday, April 12, 2021

Communal Places - J


Communal Places for Literary Enthusiasts

J   The national landmark located at 425 Avenue of the Americas, now known as the Jefferson Market Library, carries more than just stories within. Having once housed (only) female prisoners in an adjacent section that is now a garden, and later, a courthouse before becoming the iconic bequest to public literacy it is today, the building itself was the subject of chronicles whispered. The atmospheric essence of this edifice, alone, is enough to entice readers in, while the remarkable architecture, complete with Victorian Gothic embellishments such as decorative gables, pinnacles, and towering stained-glass windows, seems to attest to claims of other-worldly presences. For example, nighttime shadows are reportedly seen around the intricately redesigned clock tower - formerly a fire lookout tower (circa 1833). A phantom woman waves from the balcony above the expansive courtroom (now the adult reading room) and fleeting visages of ghosts have occurred in the garden.  


Jefferson Market Library, Greenwich Village, NY

Anyone up for an adventure – and a good book?


“The library is inhabited by creatures that come out of the pages at night” ~ Isabel Allende

Saturday, April 10, 2021

Communal Places - I


Communal Places for Literary Enthusiasts

I.  Now located on West Lovers Lane in Dallas, Texas, Interabang Books takes its unique name from the symbol that combines the question mark and the exclamation point. Owner Nancy Perot knows a bit about what those symbols represent, as well as the value of perseverance having the original bookshop, which opened in 2017, destroyed by a tornado in 2019, followed by the recent pandemic. Nonetheless, the store once again thrives in its new location, offering hand-picked selections of books and gifts for adults and kids. Events include Children’s Book of the Month subscriptions, in-person book signings, online author, publisher, and bookseller chats, videos, and personalized reading recommendations. They’ve temporarily discontinued the consignment program, but it’s something to keep an eye on.

If anyone knows how to create an Interabang symbol on a computer, do tell ;-)


“If we encounter a man of rare intellect, we should ask him what books he reads” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson