Atop a forested New Hampshire hillside, up past an ancient snow-covered burial ground and a 19th-century railroad station, a big green spruce graces the front yard of an old white-clapboard farmhouse. Inside the attached two-story barn, a first-class education awaits. A labyrinth of homemade shelving is stuffed floor to ceiling with every species of the written word imaginable. You could spend days wandering and sampling Old Number Six’s wares–yet this trove of 165,000 volumes is supremely, amazingly, organized. So if your time is limited and you’ve got a wish list in hand, look for the category signs and lose yourself in the stacks.
Downstairs you’ll find well-curated collections of sports books (histories, biographies, resources) and journalism commentaries, in addition to a vast number of thrillers, mysteries, and general fiction titles, among many other sections. Up front are valuable first editions; tucked away in an almost-secret corner deep inside is a whole cubby devoted solely to medical history. But tempting as it is to stay put in these snug nooks, do not miss the second-floor bonanza. Tread carefully up the narrow staircase, crowded with volumes waiting to be filed. (Perhaps you’ll spot last year’s best-selling biography of Teddy Roosevelt–or, better yet, last century’s best-selling collection, soft and worn, of TR’s sweet and quirky letters to his children.) At the top, look up: A world of books rises before you, in groups including international relations and policy, political theory and commentary, wealth and poverty, notable American families, immigration and ethnicity, Judaica and the Holocaust; world chronicles organized by time and geography, military accounts by theater of war, travel literature by region and state, American history by era and personage; and the best African American history section you’ll ever see in any New England country bookstore, new or used. And those are just the highlights here. It’s one of NewEnglandville’s favorite hideaways, a place to feed your mind, your heart, your soul. 166 Depot Hill Road, Henniker, NH. 603-428-3334; hennikerbookdepot.com