Overwhelmed by internet book sites? Lost and confused in a giant cookie-cutter chain book store? Just looking for something in a select genre? Specialty bookstores exist and thrive for any and all who answer “yes” to either or all of those questions. For readers seeking a book on the Pope or the paranormal, or something suitable for children or collectors, Connecticut has many fine and focused booksellers, five of which are presented below.
St. Mary’s Bookstore
669 West Ave.
Norwalk, CT 06850
There’s a new Pope in the Vatican, and any in the Nutmeg State who want to read about him, his predecessors or the church Francis leads should look no farther than St. Mary’s Bookstore in Norwalk. Located in the Parish Center Building behind Saint Mary Roman Catholic Church, which bills itself as “The Mother Church of Norwalk,” this religious bookstore is open at least a few hours every day of the week (and either side of mass on Sunday). In March and April, the store featured the new book by the church’s pastor, Rev. Greg J. Markey, who is happy to sign copies of his account of his pilgrimage in Spain, “Discovering the Camino de Santiago.”
Linda’s Story Time
447 Monroe Turnpike
Ever wonder what happened to those sweet children’s bookstores that are featured in movies starring Meg Ryan or that show up on The Hallmark Channel at Christmas? Linda’s Story Time in Monroe is this storybook kind of place. From stuffed animals and rocking chairs to “an eclectic mix” of books (mostly but not just) for children, Linda’s, as it says in the store’s name,is also a place for story time. Bestselling authors – most recently Tom Angelberger, author of the “Origami Yoda” series, who appeared on April 8th – are frequent guests. With books for every child “0 to 18 years of age” (as well as adults), Linda’s caters to every child and to everyone who is a child at heart. The store is open every day but Sunday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. (except for Saturdays, where it closes at 5 p.m.).
Books and Boos
514 Westchester Road
Colchester, CT 06415
From trick or treating to tales of terror, Books and Boos in Colchester is a “frightfully good” place to find a scary book or two. Books and Boos is also a mecca for murder and mystery writers (like Roxanne Dent of “The Poison Pen Murders” fame, who appeared there on April 6) as well as editors of works of fantasy (among them Karen Dent, who talked up her most recent anthologies “Damnation and Dames” and “The Call of Lovecraft”). Gothic tales and paranormal studies, vampire legends and old fashioned ghost stories fill the shelves in this favored “haunt” of horror writers. It is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day but Monday, but approach with care for despite the official address, the entry is a driveway off Loomis Road.
Darren Winston, Bookseller
81 Main St.
Sharon CT 06069
Darren Winston, Bookseller (also known as Darren Winston Books and Prints) is a full-service book store and fine art gallery, and also one of the premier places in the Northwest Corner for rare and first editions. Vintage books are the specialty of the house and have been since it opened on the village green in Sharon in 1995. Darren Winston also offers unique “Book Baskets” based on themes such as Modern Library editions, favorite children’s books of days gone by or the owner’s particular favorite, “vintage college-lit classics.” It is closed Mondays but open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. the other six days of the week.
12 Academy St.
Salisbury, CT 06068
Lovers of rare and collectible books of high quality should take the trek to this elegant, airy and comfortable showcase store tucked away in the little summer lakes town of Salisbury, just east across the New York State on Route 44. Georgetown University (Class of ’74) alum Dan Dwyer renovated this old 19th century farmer’s cottage to aid in what he calls his “happy pursuit of rare books.” One of the first such dealers in the nation to put his collection online, back in 1996, Dwyer credits the internet for allowing collectors to find him and for his store to flourish. The store, by the way, is named not only for the old New England corn cake but also for Johnnycake Hill, located in Dwyer’s hometown of New Bedford, Massachusetts. Dan is in the store mid-day Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays and other days “by chance or appointment.”
Mark G. McLaughlin is a professional and prolific writer with a proven publishing record in a wide variety of fields. An historian, novelist, freelance journalist, ghost-writer, book reviewer, magazine editor, web and magazine columnist, Mark has more than 30 years of experience. His work can be found at Examiner.com.