Posts Tagged ‘haunts’

I’d heard of Brookline Booksmith before we ever arrived in Boston, thanks to the wonderful Shelf Awareness, a daily e-newsletter for the book trade that often spotlights indie bookstores. Booksmith has two locations, one in Brookline and one in Wellesley, and they host and spearhead various events, so they were on my radar. However, I literally stumbled across it a couple of Sundays ago, as we walked through Brookline to get lunch after church. I peeked inside and vowed I’d be back.

And oh MY:

Its shelves seem to go back forever – and then there’s the used book cellar, a treasure trove of all sorts of literary goodness. Pardon my gushing, but after eight years in Abilene (which REALLY NEEDS a good indie bookstore), I’m a little giddy with all the great bookstores around here. They’ve got a lovely gift section that includes stationery, jewelry, socks (of all things) and journals galore:

There’s also an an adorable children’s area in the back, and full-to-bursting young adult shelves:

Their fiction section is huge; they have a writing shelf and a large travel section and tables of bargain books, and author events on a regular basis. I’m in love.

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When we told our Abilene friends we were moving to Boston, everyone who had lived, worked, gone to school or even traveled here said the same thing: “You’ve got to try Brookline.”

Nate and Abi, who arrived a month before we did, were already plugged in at Brookline by the time we arrived – and so we took little convincing, on our first Sunday in Boston, to come to the tiny, adorable church in the heart of Brookline:

I’ve been at big churches all my life – the last three churches I’ve been a member of have each had more than a thousand members. Brookline is tiny by any standard – just 30 or 40 souls in the pews each Sunday. And yet I love it. It’s a tightly knit community, people of all ages, races and backgrounds coming together to sing some hymns and share communion, to listen to a sermon and then thoughtfully discuss it. The singing is a cappella, a nod to its Church of Christ heritage, but there’s some liturgy from the Book of Common Prayer, which reminds me of my beloved St Aldates Oxford. There’s always a prayer for the church and the world, which I love because the church can never afford to forget about the world, and each Sunday night a bunch of us gather at Amy and Ryan’s for dinner, singing and fellowship.

Don’t get me wrong: I miss Highland deeply. I miss singing on Sunday mornings and looking out over the congregation as part of the praise team; I miss standing next to Jeremiah as he leads worship (though of course we stand next to each other in the pew). I miss eating doughnuts, giving and receiving hugs, listening and laughing in Sojourners class. I miss our Lifeteam every day, but especially on Sunday nights. I miss my coffee ladies – oh, how I miss them. (Thank God that sweet Abi is here with me.)

But I love Brookline already. This feels like a thoughtful, compassionate community dedicated to seeking out God’s work in the world. We’ve been welcomed in with open arms; we have a place to come, to worship, to serve, to be nurtured, to be loved. And I am, above all else, so thankful.

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I’ve been spending a lot of time at the library lately. This will surprise none of you who know my bookish tendencies, but just let me SHOW you our library. You won’t believe it:

Doesn’t it look like a castle, or a fortress, or something out of Lord of the Rings? And yet I assure you it’s set on a very ordinary downtown street, near City Hall and an apartment complex and various municipal offices. (That’s the spire of Bethany Congregational Church in the background.)

Even the font over the door looks Elvish:

I love the sign above the door proclaiming “Free to All.” Getting a library card was one of the first things I did on arrival – after all, what is life without being able to browse good books?

Most of the library is modern inside, well-stocked rows of shelves filled with fiction and biography and mystery and so much more. The children’s room, decorated right now in a Lorax theme, is a dream (unfortunately I have no photos). And the DVD selection is great. But the restored Richardson Building, the west wing, is truly breathtaking:

It’s the periodicals section now, but boasts some lovely stained-glass windows and a quiet, reverent atmosphere. Reminds me of Oxford, unmistakably. A perfect place to study or write.

We have three other library branches in Quincy, and our libraries are part of a network of libraries south of Boston, so we can get books and resources from those too. I feel so lucky! An embarrassment of literary riches.

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When Bethany traveled to Boston a year ago, she came home singing the praises of Brattle Book Shop, and blaming it for some overweight luggage (hers and other people’s) on the way home. Last week, I had a free afternoon and restless feet, so I hopped the T into the city to see for myself.

And oh MY. It’s a treasure house, people. I’m lucky I didn’t spend hundreds of dollars and come home lugging dozens of books. For look what meets your eye when you walk up:

Book stalls and book carts galore! Just like at my beloved Shakespeare & Co. in Paris! And ALL the books outside are $5 or less. There’s a fair bit of stuff to wade through, especially on the $1 racks, but a lot worth looking at and quite a bit worth having. And I love the fun art on the alley walls.

The carts are wheeled in at night, best I can guess, and the shelves are locked up. I spotted some of the sliding door panels resting in a corner:

Inside, there are three floors of literary goodness – fiction, New England interest, politics, philosophy, history, languages, children’s and MORE. I could have spent HOURS, and oh how I coveted the beautiful rare edition of Anne of the Island, sitting in the rare-book case. (Alas, I don’t have $250 to spare. And Serenity, I thought of you.)

I did come home with one treasure: an early edition of Jean Webster’s Daddy-Long-Legs. I’d heard of it because it features in Dear Pen Pal, part of the Mother-Daughter Book Club series, but I’d never read it. It’s such a charming story – and isn’t my copy beautiful?

Needless to say, I’ll be going back to Brattle often, and I’ll take all my bookish friends there when they come to visit. I haven’t even been to the rare-book room yet – though I’m sure I’ll find lots to covet, and perhaps even something to take home.

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