Bookstores are giant-sized invitations to other worlds. Whether someone is looking for an action-packed adventure, a whodunit, a cerebral excursion or a laugh-out-loud comic treat, that person only needs to enter into their nearest local bookstore. Once inside, magic weaves its spell and defies anyone to not reach out for a leather-bound book, a pop-up children’s tale or a bestselling work. Who doesn’t have a favorite bookstore where one inhales the smell of leather, touches the texture of hardcover and paperbacks and sizes up the weight of a book in his or her hand? Throughout Connecticut, there are many independent bookstores. Some of them not only satisfy their readers’ appetites for books, but also their appetites for food in their creative and convenient cafés. Some offer creative gift selections along with terrific book selections. All of the independent bookstores included here are tightly connected to their communities and in return, the communities support them eagerly.
R.J. Julia Booksellers
768 Boston Post Road
Madison, CT 06443
When it comes to community, R.J. Booksellers could write a book on how a bookstore connects with its community. The store itself is so picturesque and inviting that it looks like something found on a greeting card. With 400 events a year, including open mic nights, workshops and kids’ events, this bookseller is more than a retail establishment. It also has a community room called the “Mind, Body, Spirit Room” where students do homework, tutors tutor and locals gather around the large round table that seats 10. Also featuring a café where you can delight in fresh soups, sandwiches and luscious desserts, R.J. Julia Booksellers is the word in its community.
1082 Chapel St.
New Haven, CT 06510
If ever there was a bookstore that was the heart of its community, it is the Atticus Book Store/Café. Here is a bookstore located in the midst of Yale University, two major art museums and a nationally recognized professional theater. Therefore, it is not surprising that you will find an art exhibit by a local artist, as well as books on just about everything from just about everywhere. The bookstore is a cultural mecca, jam-packed with books, but that doesn’t keep it from serving up some of the most delicious breakfasts, lunches and dinners in New Haven. What could be better than being surrounded by books, fresh-baked breads and aromatic soups? Atticus personifies its eclectic New Haven community.
Hickory Stick Bookshop
2 Green Hill Road
Washington Depot, CT 06794
(860) 868- 0525
When it comes to connecting with community, the Hickory Stick Bookshop is one that folks in the northwest section of Connecticut know all about. They certainly can count on it since it has been a staple in the community for more than 60 years. Local authors, and there are many, delight in reading from their books here. The shop is like a magnet for readers drawing good audiences for book signings and readings. In addition to its wide selection of books, one can find everything from toys for children to gift items including local yarn.
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House Of Books
10 N. Main St.
Kent, CT 06757
The House of Books in Kent, Connecticut knows its community so well that it knows its readers’ preferences. “I’ve been here for eight years and you get to know who likes to read what author and what type of book,” said Robin Herde. With three private schools in this hamlet-like community, parents of students also frequent the historic country bookstore on weekends, as do the summer home owners who flock to the store all week long for books, art supplies, office supplies, stationary and greeting cards.
Bank St. Book Nook
50 Bank St.
New Milford, CT 06776
A small independent bookstore, the BanK St. Book Nook features best sellers on New York Times, the Independent Bookstores Best Seller’s list and the New England Booksellers Association’s list. This shop is the perfect “nook” for children’s storytelling hour. On most Saturday afternoons at 2 p.m., children and their parents make their way to the back of the shop where they’ll find a cozy setting perfect for storytelling. A rocking chair, plump pillows and great books introduce the children of the community to the joys of the written word.
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Joanne Greco Rochman is the arts editor of The Fairfield County Review, a columnist, critic, feature story writer and English professor. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Republican-American and Hersam-Acorn Publications. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.