Bookstores to Visit Around Boston

Alison Morris - December 29, 2009

Attending ALA Midwinter and wanting to take home more books than just those you’ll score at the trade show? Here are a handful of Boston-area independent bookstores where you can easily fulfill that wish. (See also my previous post about "Bookish Sites Around Boston" for other literature-related adventures in Beantown.)


The Children’s Book Shop in Brookline Village, Brookline – 237 Washington St.
(Public transit directions: take the D train of the Green Line to the Brookline Village stop)
Cozy and inviting and s-m-a-r-t under the direction of all-knowing owner Terri Schmitz. If you want a wide selection of children’s and young adult titles both new and old, plus an expert staff who can make well-tailored recommendations or just shoot the breeze with you about the latest trends in children’s books, this is the store for you.

Curious George Goes to Wordsworth in Harvard Square, Cambridge – 1 JFK St.
(Public transit directions: take the Red Line to the Harvard Square stop)
While it can’t hold a candle to the Children’s Book Shop in terms of either service or book selection, this store is a convenient-for-tourists source of some great book-related toys, plush, games, and assorted other gifts. It’s just a stone’s throw from Hahvahd Yahd.


(Note that all three of these stores feature STELLAR line-ups of author events. Consult their respective event calendars to see who’ll be in town when you are.)

Harvard Book Store in Harvard Square, Cambridge – 1256 Massachusetts Ave.
(Public transit directions: take the Red Line to the Harvard Square stop)
If you like your stores jam-packed and/or you want scholarly selections that’ll knock your socks off, this is the store for you. Its children’s and young adult sections are on the small side but packed to the gills with quality stuff. Ask Kari Patch or Carter Hasegawa what they’d recommend for teens or young readers.

Porter Square Books in Porter Square, Cambridge – 25 White St. (in the Porter Square Shopping Center on Massachusetts Ave.)
(Public transit directions: take the Red Line to the Porter Square stop)
If you like a warm atmosphere and a store that’s easy to browse and thoughtfully stocked, Porter Square Books is just your speed. Their friendly, knowledgeable staff will hook you up with great ideas for all ages, and the coffee shop at the front of the store will hook you up with a warm beverage to take with you. Carol Stoltz is the children’s book buyer who keeps their young readers’ sections more than up-to-speed.

Brookline Booksmith in Coolidge Corner, Brookline – 279 Harvard St.
(Public transit directions: take the C train of the Green Line to the Coolidge Corner stop)
As Brookline Booksmith is a sister store to my employer, Wellesley Booksmith, I’m admittedly biased here, but I’d shop here even if they didn’t sign my paycheck. One glance at the approximately 200 reviews of this place on Yelp will show you that I’m not the only fan of this city store that features a savvy selection of books for all ages, a hip and knowledgeable staff of booksellers, and a darn-it-I-always-find-something-I-don’t-need-but-have-to-have assortment of clever cards and gift items.

Other suggestions:
For the brainiac: The MIT Press Bookstore (Kendall Square, Cambridge)
For the world-traveler: The Globe Corner Bookstore (Harvard Square, Cambridge)
For the comic book fan: The Million Year Picnic (Harvard Square, Cambridge)
For the poetry fan: Grolier Poetry Book Shop (Harvard Square, Cambridge)
For the linguist: Schoenhof’s Foreign Books (Harvard Square, Cambridge)


Boston. com has made my posting very easy for this category! Check out their slideshow featuring photos and info about local used and antiquarian bookstores and go from there.

Note that this list of suggestions is focused on stores that are very close to town, on that assumption that that’ll be more relevant to the majority of ALA Midwinter-goers. If you’ll have a car and want to travel farther afield, I’d also recommend visting the very obvious choice of Wellesley Booksmith (ahem) in addition to The Blue Bunny in Dedham (a children’s bookstore owned by author/illustrator Peter H. Reynolds and his twin brother Paul, expertly run by Paul’s wife Janet), the lovely Newtonville Books, and the overwhelming-and-rather-baffling-but-worth-the-experience New England Mobile Book Fair.

Fellow locals, have I left out your favorite stores? If so, feel free to list them here.

Happy shopping!

2 thoughts on “Bookstores to Visit Around Boston

  1. JamesJA

    This is one of the few instances where Yelp does provide a fair reflection of reality. Most Yelp reviews are 20 somethings writing as badly as they can about $20 meals. The site itself is rigged-good reviews of non-advertisers are removed, bad reviews of advertisers are removed and there has been press coverage indicating extortion by yelp in order to get advertising. The elite reviewers are bribed by businesses with free food and alcohol for good reviews. The daily review is handpicked for advertising needs. I guess if a place is hugely popular and well loved by a lot of people it can get a fair treatment. But yelp isnt a fair reource. Its business. And like all business its corrupt.

  2. janet

    Just a tiny bit outside Boston, two bookstores in Waltham are worth a visit: Back Pages Books and More than Words. Both are on Moody Street. Back Pages proprietor Alex Green has excellent taste, especially in poetry, and promotes local authors. He’s a genius at recommending just what you’ll enjoy. Back Pages is one of those indie bookstores that defines “indie”. More than Words sells used books but beyond that it is a social enterprise that empowers young people who are in the foster care system, court involved, homeless, or out of school to take charge of their lives by taking charge of a business. They also serve coffee.


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