Among other things, Boston is famous for its quality bookstores. With high-tech e-book possibilities changing the way people read, many Bostonians and tourists still prefer the unique aura of an offline bookstore with its special scent of knowledge, magic, and discovery.
Online book retailers may be taking over the reader’s world, but a good old paper book is impossible to replace. Let’s take a closer look at Boston’s best bookstores that boast antique charm mixed with 21st-century convenience.
Brattle Book Shop
Brattle Book Shop is one of the largest and oldest bookstores in the entire country. When you step into the shop, you get a special feel of history and time at your fingertips. This antiquarian store has been selling used books since 1825.
Book lovers from all over the world come to this quiet part of downtown Boston to find rare masterpieces, collectibles, and encyclopedias packed with all types of knowledge.
If you plan on visiting this book shop, be ready to spend the entire day. Three floors with a huge variety of books will take a while to navigate. Parking near Brattle Book Shop is a challenge. So, if you are driving, look for nearby paid parking possibilities in advance.
Harvard Book Store
When you think about Boston, Harvard is one of the first things that comes to mind. So, it’s hardly a surprise that one of the oldest and most famous universities has an indie bookstore nearby.
Located right across from the famous Harvard Yard in Cambridge, Harvard Book Store is a great place to spend your afternoon. The shop offers new and old books as well as some Harvard University gifts, allowing you to kill two birds with one stone.
If you aren’t a big fan of closed spaces (after all, COVID-19 is still with us), you can browse the online catalog and order a curbside pickup. If you are ready to come in, you can get a unique chance to hang out with the Harvard and Cambridge students who fill up the cozy aisles regularly.
When you get tired of the loud downtown filled with students and tourists, consider driving down to Brookline. Besides being a great place to relax, this small yet beautiful and cozy town has an amazing bookshop.
Brookline Booksmith has been around since the middle of the last century, and it still has the same slogan “Dedicated to the fine art of browsing.” Browsing in-person!
The ground floor is devoted to new books, and the basement is packed with used copies at great prices. The background jazz and wood floors will certainly make you want to stay for a while.
After you’ve browsed the books, check out their handcrafted jewelry and journals, or see what’s going on at the Brookline book club.
Trident Book Café
Trident Book Café is located in the very heart of Boston – the far end of the exciting, trendy, and dressed-up Newbury Street. Besides gaining access to both new and used books, you can take your time and enjoy a cup of coffee in the café.
A book you love and a tasty cappuccino is a wonderful mix. If you check out their schedule, you can find a variety of exciting events, including speed dating nights, special readings, trivia nights, and many more.
Trident Book Café is a perfect choice for book lovers, who enjoy long downtown walks, which end with an immersive read that steals your breath away.
Grolier Poetry Shop
If you are into poetry, you can’t miss the opportunity to visit America’s oldest poetry book shop. Found back in 1825, this history-filled place features both recent poetry releases and older poetry books.
Stacked from floor to ceiling with poetry, Grolier Poetry Shop is small but cozy, authentic, and filled with love. When you step in, you immediately feel immersed in the store’s age, history, and very special atmosphere.
Poetry reading nights at Grolier are a great way to dive into a new world and check out the latest poetry trends. If you aren’t ready to visit an offline shop just yet, you can place an order through their online bookshop.
If you want to explore an impressive selection of books written by authors of color, Frugal Bookstore is a great place to visit. Learn about race, religion, and ethnicity from different perspectives demonstrated by influential people of color.
These books are incredibly inspirational and make wonderful gifts to children, young adults, and adults. While you browse the store, its slogan “Changing Minds One Book at a Time” resonates with your heartbeat.
At this shop, authenticity mix with history and create a worthwhile experience for any reader. By the way, if you are a student, you can get a 10% discount.
Porter Square Books
Porter Square Books has an impressive personality and endless charm. It features a great variety of books and has a strong online community. Educational books that cover hot topics are what make this bookshop a great place for students. So is an excellent selection of programs and events.
Porter Square Books has two locations (Cambridge and Boston). Both of them are worth your attention so choose the one that’s closer. Keep in mind that the Cambridge location has a café and don’t forget to bring a mask.
Things to Remember When Visiting Boston Bookstores
Before visiting a Boston bookstore:
- Check out their website for working hours (some of them close very early and may not work on weekends).
- Find out whether they require masks or simply bring a mask with you, just in case (requirements change all the time).
- Browse the selection online to understand whether it’s something worth your time.
- Popular bookstores may be very busy so call ahead and ask when their lowest traffic hours are.
Beware! Once you start walking down the aisles, you can lose track of time within seconds. If you need to be somewhere else that day, an alarm may help. Enjoy!