Topic: Things to Do

Best Bookstores in New England

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There’s nothing quite like curling up with a good book, or picking one out at one of the best bookstores in New England.

Susanne Strempek Shea, one of the Pioneer Valley’s best-loved writers, chose these beloved shops as the best bookstores in New England. She is the author of five novels and three memoirs, including Shelf Life, about her year working at a local independent bookstore in Western Massachusetts. She’s also read her work at dozens of shops around New England.

Best Bookstores in New England

Best Bookstores in New England

Best Bookstores in Massachusetts:


The stacked-to-the-rafters literary conscience of the Connecticut River Valley and a coveted reading venue for any touring author.

247 Main St., Northampton, MA 413-586-4235; broadsidebooks.com

BAKER BOOKSHOP — North Dartmouth, MA

A handsome Hollywood movie set of a bookstore — but it’s not all just show. This welcoming shop has a book-savvy staff and a great cafe.

69 State Road, North Dartmouth, MA 508-997-6700; bakerbooks.net


Small, serene, and nobody bugs you when you browse for hours. Don’t miss the magazines and cool postcards.

134 Maine St., Brunswick, ME 207-729-5083; gulfofmainebooks.blogspot.com


An errand to pick up a single book can easily turn into a personal odyssey for hours as you explore the two floors.

9 College St., South Hadley, MA 800-540-7307, 413-534-7307; odysseybks.com


Best Bookstores in New Hampshire:


Lose yourself in the dazzling used section, recover while scanning the new titles, reflect over slices of the cafe’s heavenly pies.

12 Depot Square, Peterborough, NH 603-924-3543; toadbooks.com

What are your picks for the best bookstores in New England? Are any of these already your favorite? Let us know in the comments below!

  • Yes, Lynn I agree! My daughter lives in western MA so I’ve been there several times. I love sitting in the cafe listening to the rushing stream. The food is great, the music too. I am constantly reminded of this cherished spot whenever I see the delighted faces of those stopped behind me, reading my bumper sticker.
    Patty Groff
    Haddon Township, NJ

  • Why limit to just 5? You should just include all the awesome indie bookstores of New England.

  • Also a wonderful store is Whitlock’s Book Barn in Bethany, CT, outside of New Haven. There is a large barn full of used books, and a smaller barn with antiquarian books and ephemera. Very knowledgable staff, and it feels good to be there.

  • Deborah

    A wonderful used book store with thousands of tittles. The book Barn in Niantic Ct. One could spend days in there browsing

  • I am shocked that the Northshire Bookstore in Manchester VT is not on this list. It is absolutely one of the best. The author seems to have a little bias toward Western MA

  • Two of my favorite book stores are THE BOOKLOFT in Great Barrington, Massachusetts where the staff are very knowledeable and friendly. They also have a lot of great authors that come and speak about their books. The second one is SHERMANS, located in Bar Harbor, Maine. (There is also one in Freeport, Maine.) In either one I can spend a LONG time just browsing and losing myself for an afternoon!

  • Anonymous

    On my comment above, I missed the place for my name and location – Betty Ann Lockhart, Charlotte, Vermont, mentioning Maine Coast Book Shop and Cafe in Damariscotta, Maine, and Flying Pig in Shelburne, Vermont.

  • Anonymous

    You missed a couple of REALLY GREAT shops. Maine Coast Bookshop, Damariscotta, Maine – community involvement, knowledgeable staff, ready to help without “bugging,” special orders, shipping, creative toys, lots of kid and senior appeal, with something for everyone in between!

    Flying Pig book store in Shelburne, Vermont – hosting authors throughout the year. One of the owners is herself a children’s book author. Great upstairs lecture space, where authors meet the public.

  • The Book Mill in Montague, MA, gets my vote. Their motto is Books You Don’t Need In A Place You Can’t Find. There’s a cafe on-site and plenty of reading nooks in this restored barn. Everyone I’ve brought here has had a great time. It’s a great place to spend a few hours.

  • Victoria

    My favorite is Island Books in Middletown, RI. Every time they feature a book on their Facebook page, it becomes one of my favorite reads.

  • I do hope that Suzanne takes some time to travel to Manchester Center, Vt and finds the Northshire Bookstore. The Morrow family prides themselves on their knowledge and wonderful selection of books as well as featuring some of the most current authors in the country… We are avidly waiting for Stephen King this December. And while in Manchester, why not travel up Route 7 to the town of Brandon, Vt where the Briggs-Carriage bookstore is located–another independently owned an welcoming bookstore. Long live the independent bookseller where the interactions are colorful and IN PERSON….. sad to see things going electronically…..

  • Christina

    The Toad Hall Bookstore in Rockport is famous for having great authors, excellent service because of knowledgable staff, books about Cape Ann and New England among many others in a cozy place. As a non profit, it’s proceeds go directly to environmental causes. If you’re concerned about the environment – you can order books by phone and know that what you’re buying will support your mission. It is much more fun to visit in person though since it’s right on the ocean and surrounded by the cute shops and galleries of Rockport! http://www.toadhallbooks.org

  • I’d like to add Bunch of Grapes Bookstore in Vineyard Haven as a favorite. We vacation on Martha’s Vineyard every year, and my eight-year-old always wants it to be our first stop. The store was damaged in a fire this past summer, and was closed. My little guy actually had tears in his eyes when he heard the news. The store will be back after repairs, and he can’t wait.

  • Apple Valley Books in Winthrop ME (about 15 min west of Augusta) is a terrific book store, offering a nice variety of books and providing a prompt ordering service (with discounts) for delivery to either their store or your home. Thanks to Apple Valley Books there’s no need to go to any of the big box bookstores, and it’s delightful to have them in my own town. They also carry locally produced art (e.g. pottery) and offer other services too numerous to list here. Their web site is: http://www.fairpoint.net/~applebooks/

    Another not-to-be-missed bookstore is Wiggle Weigle?s Books in Biddeford ME, with “In A Bind” art gallery and studio in the back. Their websites are http://web.mac.com/aweigle/inabindstudio/WiggleWeigles_Books.html and http://inabindstudio.com/.

    I do not have any proprietary interest in either of these stores, both of which are owned and operated by former & current librarians. I mention them because they are the two best bookstores I know in Maine!

  • Don’t forget about Breakwater Books located on the downtown Green of beautiful, coastal Guilford, CT. This book-nook has a great selection of today’s favorites as well as a wide compliment of local favorites. And you can stop next door for a cup of fresh-roasted coffee at Cilantro’s Cafe.

  • I am surprised that Northshire Books in Manchester, Vt. has not made the list…it is my absolute favorite both for their extensive range of stock and for their helpful and knowledgable staff. My husband and I look forward to visiting Manchester two or three times a year mostly because of this terrific store.

  • I would also recommend Misty Valley Books, on the Green, in Chester, VT. The store, though small, has a wide variety of books, and the staff is very helpful. They also host frequent author events in the area. We have especially enjoyed meeting the mystery writer Archer Mayor.

  • I have visited two of these, Gulf of Maine and Toadstool in Peterborough. If they are all like these two, they are lots of fun and winners!

  • I am the manager of a beautiful bookstore in New Canaan, CT
    Elm Street Books,35 Elm Street, New Canaan, CT 06040
    I was sorry to see you did not include us on your list. If you had stopped by New Canaan you would just love our bookstore.
    Hoping your take the time in the future to visit us.
    Kathleen Millard


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