Arts & Culture

Top Literary Landmarks In Connecticut

September 24, 2012 6:00 AM

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(credit: www.noahwebsterhouse.org)
When it comes to literary landmarks, Connecticut has more than its fair share. In fact, so many authors have called Connecticut home that a writer’s museum was once being contemplated here. Beyond just the historic landmarks like the Mark Twain House and Harriett Beecher Stowe Center, there are plenty more literary landmarks of all kinds in this Nutmeg state, including some unusual bookstores. While many readers will immediately think of landmarks as old, venerable and perhaps even dead tributes, there are multiple vibrant landmarks that invite book lovers from everywhere to seek out these special places.

Noah Webster House

227 S Main St
West Hartford, CT 06107
(860) 521-5362
www.noahwebsterhouse.org

Born and raised in Connecticut, Noah Webster’s restored home is now part of a public museum. You can’t have literary anything without words, and Webster’s name is practically synonymous with words. After all, he is the man, the lawyer and the educator who created the first all-American dictionary. Visiting this landmark will prove most enlightening, since there are frequently scheduled lectures and events. 

Home of Poet Wallace Stevens

118 Westerly Terrace
Hartford, CT 06105
(860) 508-2810
www.stevenspoetry.org/stevenswalk

It shouldn’t be surprising to come across “Friends and Enemies of Poet Wallace Stevens” sites when surfing the Internet. Stevens (1879 –1955) may not have been well liked as an attorney or as an insurance executive, but his poetry was read and loved by many. After marrying his wife in 1909, and after several moves, the couple relocated to Hartford, Connecticut where they eventually purchased a Colonial-style home at 118 Westerly Terrace. He loved to walk and there are tours that follow the route Stevens walked on a daily basis.

Atticus Bookstore/Café

1082 Chapel St
New Haven, CT 06510
(203) 776-4040
www.atticusbookstorecafe.com

One of the most classic literary landmarks in Connecticut is the ever popular Atticus Book Store and Café right in the heart of the Yale Center for British Art, practically next door to the Yale Repertory Theatre. This vibrant store is just what a book lover imagines. It has great books and a menu of fine soups, sandwiches, specialty desserts and morning pastries. What could possibly be better than sitting at a little café table on a cool autumn day and sipping on a hot bowl of freshly made soup while flipping through pages of a book that has caught your eye? Built in 1976, this famous book store is often frequented by celebrities because of its proximity to the Yale Rep. Many a playwright, including the likes of August Wilson, and many a great actor, director or designer has frequented this favored spot. In addition to the great books and food, there’s always an art exhibit of one kind or another going on, so you’re bound to rub elbows with an artist. This is definitely a one-of-a-kind literary landmark. (As an additional note, don’t forget to ask for the book lovers’ walking tour guide. There are so many book stores in New Haven that you can spend an entire day walking from one to the other. The best part is that each one is quite unique.)

House of Books

10 N Main St
Kent, CT 06757
(860) 927-4104
www.hobooks.com

Western Connecticut has many literary landmarks. For instance, in Kent, Connecticut, a very busy tourist destination is the House of Books which has remained standing in spite of the Kindle, Nook and other e-reading devices. Robin Herde, who manages the store and as serves as the book buyer, attributes the longevity of the store not only to its quaint and busy Main Street but to the fact that people still want beautiful books. “We have gorgeous art books, gardening books and nature books. People still want the tactile experience of reading a book,” said Herde. She also pointed out that this book store is not like a Barnes and Noble with 50 copies of each book. “We have a very wide range of books from smaller publishers. It’s very eclectic,” she comments. Considering that authors such as Edmund Morris, Frank Delaney, Henry Kissinger and Pulitzer Prize-winner Francine Du Plessix Gray visit this shop, there’s no argument that it’s a literary landmark.

Related: 5 Must- Read Books By Connecticut Authors

Books by the Falls

253 Roosevelt Drive
Derby, CT 06418
(203) 734-6112
www.facebook.com/Books-By-The-Falls

Until you have visited this landmark, you don’t know what it means to have books stacked as high and wide as the eye can see. This is a used and antiquarian book store that has so many books on so many topics that it is almost impossible not to walk out of the place without a box full. Yes, it’s musty and smells like old books, but the prices are right and even the “no longer wanted” books are someone else’s treasure. It is no exaggeration to say that the books are stacked to the ceiling. Mind you, this red brick building was once an old mill factory, so there’s plenty of room for stacking. The owner is quite an expert when it comes to literature. If you get him on a good day, he may even show you his private collection with old books on war strategies. What makes this shop a landmark is that every serious book collector in Connecticut knows about it. It has been there forever and will probably remain for some time to come.

Related: Top Up-And-Coming Artists In Connecticut

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.

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