The Local's Guide to Portsmouth
Sheafe Street Books’ Ken Kosick
Sheafe Street Books
29 Sheafe Street in Portsmouth
Local book hoarder Ken Kosick can be found within a fortress of reading material at his Sheafe Street shop. “Some people have wondered if the structure can handle all the weight,” he admits, looking around at the floor-to-ceiling collection of first-edition beat poets, contemporary fiction and 17th-century manuscripts. The store is full of stories both imagined and real, like the time a patron proposed to his girlfriend by hiding the ring inside a hollowed-out book.
Kosick isn’t alone in his love of books. He’s got his cat Petunia, fond of sleeping on Emerson and Steinbeck, and he has a wide community of book lovers who cherish his small, carefully curated shop. “In a population of 21,000 in Portsmouth, to have three [independent] book stores is incredible,” he gushes, talking, of course, about his competition.
142 Fleet Street in Portsmouth
The longest-standing independent bookstore in Portsmouth, RiverRun has a thoughtful book collection and a friendly, well-read staff. When this local staple ran into difficulty making their rent in 2011, hundreds of townspeople not only donated money to save them, but also formed a human chain to move the store, one box at a time, to the new location.
Portsmouth Book & Bar
40 Pleasant Street in Portsmouth
Book & Bar is a rare space that transcended its own novelty to become a popular local hangout almost immediately. The cozy-yet-elegant bookstore has had a solid following since its opening day in 2012. This is partly due to a great selection of books and a weekend lineup of talented musicians, but it doesn’t hurt that they offer craft beer on tap for those who want to sip while they browse.