Another Read Through – Portland, Oregon

There’s Something About Another Read Through

At the end of June, I made it to the West Coast for the first time in my life. It was hot but beautiful, and I was visiting a friend who moved out to Portland, Oregon last fall so that made it all the more enjoyable. I told her I wanted to visit Powell’s Bookstore, and maybe one or two other bookstores if time allowed (I was there for just three days). Luckily for both of us, she lives the dream of inhabiting an apartment just up the street from a bookstore. That bookstore is Another Read Through.

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Raymond H. Fogler Library at The University of Maine

There’s Something About Fogler Library

Another Homecoming has come and gone, and after a beautiful weekend of football, hockey, filling the steins, and catching up with friends, I somehow love my Alma Mater even more. The celebration wouldn’t be complete without a drive around campus, and a quick visit to Fogler, or officially, Raymond H. Fogler Library.

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Portsmouth Book & Bar – Portsmouth, New Hampshire

There’s Something About Portsmouth Book & Bar

Portsmouth Book & BarSurrounding the Custom House in the city of Portsmouth, New Hampshire are restaurants, a gourmet grocery store, a handful of banks, and charming greenery contrasting the red brick of historic buildings. It’s like a lovely daydream, really, spending a sunny day in Portsmouth.

What turns that daydream into a Utopian reality, however, is what is inside the Custom House. Blending the beauty of a bookstore with the refreshments of a bar is one of the happiest places on Earth: Portsmouth Book & Bar.

Step inside this wondrous place and you will see a couple of table-height bookshelves as well as a few full-length shelves that lead the way to tables and chairs, where, when you’re not browsing the rest of the bookstore, you can sit and enjoy a beverage of your choice.

The menu features a plethora of teas, but you may be more (or equally) drawn to the beer and wine lists like I was on this first visit. You can also get food at Portsmouth Book & Bar, but I stuck with a beer while I browsed for books.

Though I say “while I browsed,” I did not carry my beer around as I looked for some new tomes to take home. I’m not sure if it’s allowed, but I could not pull as many books off of the shelves and into my open arms with one of my hands preoccupied, so my boyfriend supervised my beverage until I made my selections.

Portsmouth Book & Bar Shelves

 

There are cook books, historical books, books about art, children’s books, comic books, classic and new fiction; really, something for everyone at Portsmouth Book & Bar. They also host a variety of events like readings and band performances, which in conjunction with their rich history, makes this a must-visit bookstore that I will definitely be journeying to again (and again).

Portsmouth Book & Bar BeveragePortsmouth Book & Bar Patio

Outside Brattle Book Shop – Boston, Massachusetts

There’s Something About [Being Outside] Brattle Book Shop

Brattle Book Shop - One of America's Oldest Antiquarian Book Shops

Brattle Book Shop – One of America’s Oldest Antiquarian Book Shops

On my most recent trip to Boston, I stumbled upon a bookstore that has been on my must-visit bookstore list. Yes, stumbled upon it. I was in the city for a Bachelorette party, and we were on our way to an Escape Room on West St. To my absolute elation, the building in which the Escape Room was situated happened to be a few steps away from the Brattle Book Shop. I may have loudly exclaimed that since we were early for our scheduled activity we should visit the Book Shop, which includes an outdoor sales space full of carts of books. Continue reading

The Mustard Seed Bookstore – Bath, Maine

There’s Something About The Mustard Seed Bookstore

Always trying to get as many errands done during the week as possible, as to ensure a more enjoyable and often carefree weekend, I recently found myself leaving the apartment to run errands on a Saturday. This perhaps had a lot to do with taking a vacation day the previous Wednesday, which threw an already busy week into a much more tightly scheduled timeline, leaving me little time and energy to get anything done after work. Anyway, this particular Saturday was cloudy, although warm, and after running said errands I couldn’t bring myself to spend the rest of the day cleaning or picking up the slack dropped during the week back at the apartment. So with a quick GPS reprogramming, I headed east on Route 1 towards a little town called Bath.

Mustard Seed Bookstore - Bath, MaineIn the small, historic downtown I easily found on-street parking (score) and was delighted to see quite a few people walking up and down the sidewalk and into the handful of shops. Pausing at one or two display tables outside the storefronts, I made my way towards The Mustard Seed Bookstore, its yellow doors a cheerful, welcoming sight in the gloomy haze of the gray clouds above.

Inside, there was a group of people sitting at a table at the front talking and enjoying a pot of tea; two individuals were sitting at a table in the back of the store, pouring over notebooks and texts; a friendly employee asked if she could help me find anything, but I was just browsing so she told me to have fun and left me to peruse the shelves. You know you’re in the right place when the staff wishes you to have fun while book shopping.

The selection of classic literature is astounding at The Mustard Seed Bookstore. They are all newly published editions, but seeing them together on the shelves will charm you to the point of blacking out, gathering all of the books in your arms and taking them to counter to complete the purchase. Luckily for my wallet, the quiet chatter of the people at the table in the front prevented this process from going too far.

Many of the other titles include those from Maine authors, those about Maine, cook books, historical fiction and non-fiction, biography, mystery, as well as popular and prize-winning fiction. The title I selected is a 50th Anniversary Edition (originally published in 1958) of Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe. I believe I discovered this story through a New Yorker review or mention, and after reading the summary and some reviews on Goodreads I decided to make it part of my ever-growing To Be Read list. The back of the book describes it as: “encompassing at once the life of nature, human history, and the mysterious compulsions of the soul.” This is exactly what my ideal book encompasses.

After a cheerful chat with the woman behind the check-out counter (which sits below a large, lovely chalkboard with a list of teas you can order while you stay and read your book), I exited through the yellow doors and walked back out onto the sidewalk.

Not yet ready to go back to my apartment, I walked across the street to Café Crème, and after a little deliberation I ordered an “Almond Joyous” latte. The couches and chairs and cozy atmosphere were appealing, but I chose to stroll down the street outside and back to my car for the drive back home (the latte was delectable, by the way). I could only hope for every Saturday to be as sweet.

Cafe Creme

 

Carlson Turner Books and Bookbindery

There’s Something About Carlson Turner Books and Bookbindery

Most of the time, I shop exclusively at one local bookstore (that has multiple locations here in Maine), primarily because once I find a shop/restaurant/bar/hiking spot that I love, I don’t feel an overwhelming pressure to stray. I also frequent a handful of the bookstores in Portland, Maine – one conveniently sits next to the library and its sidewalk used book sale always draws me over. However, one bookstore I hadn’t yet visited is now one that sits on top of my list of favorites. This bookstore is Carlson Turner Books and Bookbindery.

Carlson Turner Bookstore and Bookbindery Sidwalk

Turn westward where Congress St. meets Washington Ave. and you’ll see a row of narrow buildings you can’t help but notice for their whimsy, as well as the cemetery facing them on the opposite side of the road. If you don’t notice the sign above the door for Carlson Turner Antiquarian Bookstore and Bookbindery, the most charming section of sidewalk in the city will beckon you, leading you right through an old door and into what I daresay is the most charming store in the city.

Carlson Turner Bookstore and BookbinderyThe musty smell fills your nostrils and lungs almost immediately; the quickness of this makes you forget that this is not how everything smells. Faced with tall bookshelves I got lost in the most perfect way.

Inside Carlson Turner Bookstore and BookbinderyNew novels, literary classics, childhood favorites, rare collections, dictionaries, foreign language texts, maps, and even (eek!) old grammar books.  I must have passed through each shelf-hallway three times, each time spotting a title I hadn’t noticed before. A typewriter sat in the back, surrounded by more bookshelves, and although the floor seemed fragile, it supported the bookstore’s contents well. I cannot personally attest to the Bookbindery services, but if I continue re-reading some of my favorite book editions to the point where my shoddy repairs don’t hold up, I’ll be happy to utilize them.

The quiet man behind the counter was working on a project and I didn’t want to disturb him, but he was kind and attentive so in no time (or perhaps, too quickly), I had made my purchase and walked back outside into the real world, hastily making plans to visit this bookstore again.

 

Carlson & Turner Purchases


Carlson Turner Books & Bookbindery
www.carlsonturnerbooks.com
241 Congress St.
Portland, Maine