I think writing and writers can come in all shapes, sizes, genres, and varieties. I don’t think there is any one book or workshop or group that is going to magically help you become a better writer. I do believe two things about writing. First, it is a craft and needs to be practiced. Second, to be a writer, you need to have a love of reading.
Browsing a bookstore or library is one of my favorite things to do. Just being surrounded by books gives me a sense of calm and comfort. It is a very rare day that goes by that I do not spend at least some time with my nose in a book.
We just passed national indie bookstore day last month. Here are three of my favorite indie bookstores near me. Go buy a book!
279 Harvard St
Brookline, MA 02446
Like any bookstore that’s still around, it doesn’t rely on just books. It also holds very popular author events, sells cards, socks, and other funky gifts, plus had a robust selection of discount and used books available. From the creaky wood floors to the wandering pets to the knowledgeable staff and little handwritten suggestion cards tacked to the shelves, this is how a bookstore should be.
10 Langley Road
A little literary oasis in Newton Center. This small shop started out in an even smaller shop but moved to Newton Center and continues to be a fun place to visit.
There’s not a lot of room but they pack in all the genres you’d expect and do a great job of curating interesting displays. They also do a great job of getting authors to visit for events. At the old shop, I saw Dennis Lehane and George Pelecanos.
111 South Street
Plainville, MA 02762
This is a hidden gem out in the suburbs that I’ve written about before. Founded by Wimpy Kid author Jeff Kinney, don’t be put off by its kid author founder. It has a robust kid and young adult selection but it doesn’t skimp on the adult titles.
It’s a smaller shop in a beautiful old bank building that also includes a coffee shop cafe. Like the Booksmith, it also sells other gifts and book-themed trinkets and holds popular classes and author events on the second floor.
I miss the old Victor Hugo shop on Newbury Street. That was a bibliophile’s dusty, used book dream. Now, when I’m in the city and need a book fix or I’m on a walk during a lunch break, I’ll often hit up one of these two shops in downtown Boston.
The Brattle is chockfull of old, weird, and out of print books and you could spend hours browsing the outside carts for discount finds. You can sometimes find good old pulp paperbacks here or vintage 80s horror books.
Commonwealth doesn’t have the teetering selection of the Brattle, it feels a bit more curated. I like to go to Commonwealth to look for old cookbooks. They also have a good selection of general literary fiction.