One of my 2021 New Year's resolutions is to highlight small businesses you can support each month. In case you missed it, in January I shared five Boston-area restaurants offering amazing takeout and delivery specials.
This month, I want to turn your attention to independent bookstores.
These shops have long been at the heart of our local communities. They know what book you are talking about when you ask, "You know that one with the green cover? I think it's a romance?" They help pick out the perfect book for your niece or nephew that always seems to become their favorite, repeat read. They host events for new authors and beloved legends. In some cases, they even serve delicious food and drinks!
Today I want to celebrate three such bookstores. If you live in these areas, I hope you will pop in to make purchases (or do curbside pick up) and if the shop offers online ordering, please choose to get your books through them and have them shipped to your house, rather than lining Jeff Bezos' pockets at Amazon.
1. Porter Square Books (Cambridge, MA) - This is my local bookshop and I could not love it more. Located in the heart of the Porter Square shopping plaza, the booksellers here are wonderful. They will help you find any title, recommend something new, or special order a book you want, but they don't currently carry.
Back in 2019, they made it onto my list of the Top 10 Dog-Friendly Spots in Boston. Scout was always welcomed warmly and if he was a good boy, rewarded with a dog treat (they keep them behind the counter).
Porter Square Books also has an incredible selections of cards, prints and small gifts. It's my go-to place for birthday and wedding cards, as well as small surprises I can easily ship to friends and family.
Back in March and April, they were one of the few places you could find puzzles, after all the toy shops and big box retailers sold out.
Right now, they are offering 20% off staff picks for adults and kids, including Milk Fed by Melissa Broder, which is getting a ton of buzz.
They also have an amazing calendar of virtual events, including an upcoming session with Meredith Goldstein on March 9. She writes The Boston Globe's Love Letter column and I devoured her book, Can't Help Myself.
If you live locally and are able to visit in person, they also have yummy coffee and tea drinks and pastries at Cafe Zing (located inside the store).
A few years later, when in Brooklyn for a family wedding, I was finally able to visit myself. The shop is on Smith Street in Cobble Hill. The space gets great natural light from the big windows in the front.
The booksellers are friendly, kind and eager to help you find what you're looking for.
Online, they are offering 10% off their bestsellers this week, which include actor Ethan Hawke's book, A Bright Ray of Darkness, Alison Roman's Nothing Fancy and the classic children's book by Ezra Jacks Keats, The Snowy Day.
If you're able to visit in person, be sure to snap a selfie with your book picks in front of the awesome mural they have painted on their wall outside.
3. Books & Books (Coral Gables, FL) - When my parents moved to Miami in 2005, one of the first places they took me was Books & Books in Coral Gables. It's on a palm-tree lined street and has a beautiful courtyard out front with cafe tables and chairs.
The food (and tropical ice tea) is amazing. We often couple our browsing with lunch. My mom would also want me to tell you that they serve Misha's cupcakes, a Miami dessert favorite.
I have been lucky enough to stop by many times when the owner, Mitchell Kaplan, has been in the store. Over the past 16 years he has given me many great books recommendations including Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter and History of a Pleasure Seeker.
Since I haven't been to Miami in over 15 months, these days I get his suggestions by listening to his podcast, The Literary Life.
It's also worth noting that Books & Books has an incredible children's section in-store and online. Their books are diverse, inclusive, and many come available in other languages (there are tons in Spanish).
It had been our family tradition to shop at Books & Books every year on Small Business Saturday. In 2020, I wasn't able to make it to Florida due to COVID, so I am hopeful I will get back there in November 2021.
There you have it! My favorite bookshops. Please, please, please show your support by stopping by or ordering online.