Shop Local: Bookstores Are Still Open
Forget Amazon. Keep your to-read pile stocked with recommendations from local bookstore owners and New Hampshire Magazine editors, and find out where you can still buy books locally
There’s no replacing the simple joy of browsing in a bookstore. Maybe you’re the type to walk in with no title in mind, happy to peruse the staff picks and new releases table, searching for that next great read. Rather than turning to impersonal Amazon and its mysterious book-choosing algorithms, you can still rely on a local bookseller (or your friendly editor) for excellent recommendations. Happily, many independent bookstores are open, offering curbside pickup, shipping and, in some cases, home delivery. No, it’s not the same as walking among the shelves, but it keeps you reading and helps support local, independent bookstores. A real win-win.
Each week we’ll be checking in with a shop owner, who will help keep your to-read pile stocked with a book recommendation. The editors of New Hampshire Magazine will also share what they’re reading, just in case you’re curious. We’ll also keep a running list of other bookstores that are open so you can continue to shop local.
This week we spoke with MainStreet BookEnds owner Katharine Nevins
“We closed the bookstore off to the public on March 17, and have worked hard to switch into full-throttle curbside delivery, taking orders on-line, through email and on the phone, and doing a tremendous amount of shipping. We receive daily requests to gather things for a birthday or graduation, holiday or anniversary, and as I am the only person in the store now, I often will FaceTime with customers to help them make selections. I never doubted that independent bookstores are an ‘essential service,’ and our community has responded with so much enthusiasm to keep us going. Bookstores have always been places to find solace and counsel each other, and I feel our mission is stronger now more then ever.
What am I currently reading? ‘The Resisters,’ by Gish Jen and totally loving it. My favorite quote right now comes from Dave Hollis of Over Grow the System: “In the rush to return to normal, use this time to consider which parts of normal are worth rushing back to.” Will we allow this pandemic and worldwide crisis to move us closer to authoritarianism, or open us up to the possibilities of healing the earth and our democracy? This wonderful book addresses these possibilities.
I also wish to congratulate one of my favorite small publishing houses Danielle Dufy Literary out of Brainerd, Minnesota, for their fifth small reader of poems, small fictions, and short essays, this one entitled ‘The Relevance of the Rural’ and dedicated to Wendell Berry. I go no further when needing to put just the right little inspiration into a friend’s hands.”
— Katharine Nevins, MainStreet BookEnds
From the editors (and friends)
After last week’s apocalyptic tone, we decided on something entirely different — magic and fantasy. We hope these novels sweep you off to a new world, at least for a time.
“A few pages into ‘A Winter’s Promise,’ the first in a quartet called ‘The Mirror Visitor,’ I had the thought that usually, at least to me, signals a great fantasy or sci-fi read: ‘This is weird, and I’m slightly confused.’ Great world building isn’t told up front, it’s revealed slowly and naturally as characters go about their lives, leaving clues that gradually coalesce into a picture of how this particular world functions. Christelle Dabos leans on a few familiar tropes here and there — dropping the main character into an unfamiliar situation so we learn as she learns, for instance — but generally, I enjoyed that slow receding of confusion as Dabos’ strange, fantastical universe came into focus.
In the distant past, a cataclysm known only as ‘The Rupture’ broke the world into a number of celestial islands called Arks, each with its own magical characteristics and ruling ‘family spirit,’ an immortal, omnipotent being from whom many citizens are descended. Ophelia, a timid, bookish museum curator, lives quietly and happily on Anima, where objects have souls. Ophelia’s inheritance from Anima’s family spirit is the ability to read the history of objects — plus a rare talent that allows her to travel through mirrors. When Ophelia is suddenly thrust — very much against her wishes — into an arranged marriage, she must leave her family and travel to Citaceleste, the floating capital of a distant, icy Ark called The Pole. Isolated and seemingly without allies, she finds herself at the center of a deadly, complex political intrigue, and she must either learn to rely on herself and her powers or fall victim to enemies both seen and unseen.
Part coming-of-age story, part magical fantasy, there are shades of steampunk and similarities to ‘The Golden Compass’ or even ‘Harry Potter,’ though Dabos’ world is entirely her own. The second novel, ‘The Missing of Clairedelune,’ enriches the saga as the plot, as they say, thickens, and we learn more details of the Arks and their strange, shrouded origins. Everything introduced in the first installment gains depth, and it will leave you excited for ‘The Memory of Babel,’ due out in early September.”
— Erica Thoits, Managing Editor
“Not reading Erin Morgenstern’s new novel, ‘The Starless Sea’ was never an option. My niece and her now-husband themed their entire wedding around Morgenstern’s previous novel, ‘The Night Circus,’ so if I wanted family gatherings to remain amicable, I would be diving into it. Thank goodness I did. An ode to books and their ability to usher us to fantastic worlds, it’s a vivid reminder of why we fall in love with books in the first place.
It’s a puzzle that only begins to show its complete panorama as new pieces are introduced, manipulated and neatly pressed into place. And when they do, previously hidden worlds reveal themselves in rewarding and breathtaking ways. Secret societies, hidden portals and pirates sail across the 500 pages of this lyrical escape, so figure out a way to play hooky, track down the right key and step through the door.”
— Bill Burke, McLean Communications Custom Publications Editor and Producer of the Cubicle (now Quarantine) Series
P.S. Looking for more distraction and entertainment? Though our regular cubicle might have gone dark, we’re still connecting with local musicians to bring you great music. Check it out here.
“Pick up a copy of ‘Live Free or Dragons’ ($25, 2019 by Plaidswede) and you hold in your hands a genuine volume of ‘New Hampshire Pulp Fiction,’ but this volume is more than a book: it is a portal to another world. Or, to be more precise, 25 such portals, and as many worlds. Some of these mystic gateways will be found in the forests or on the mountains of the great Granite State. Some will be found in small things — a lady slipper, a piece of rope, and some will take you back in time to the Amoskeag Mills or the Willey House. Each one offers a unique adventure to delight and dismay the careful reader.
You’ll find a touch of Lovecraft and hear the distant strain of Arthurian legend. In addition to these 25 fictional flights of fantasy, this book includes a never-before published essay by renowned author and long-time resident John Morressy as he muses on ‘New Hampshire as Never-Never Land.’ Let this serve as your call to adventure! But keep your sword handy, for you never know what forms a dragon might take …
Authors include: David O’Keefe, Dan Szczesny, Brendan DuBois, Gregory L. Norris, Jennifer Allis Provost and more.
— Elaine Isaak, who took over the reins of editing the “NH Pulp Fiction Series” from New Hampshire Magazine Editor Rick Broussard on the fourth of the six volumes of the series, is an award-winning poet and author of the fantasy novels “The Singer’s Crown” and “The Eunuch’s Heir.” On her website, Isaak notes that she was born in 1973, “the same year that Tolkien died.”
Southern New Hampshire
The Bookery, Manchester
What they’re offering: Choose from a selection of puzzles, games, gifts, cards, activity books and, of course, novels. You can also order food from their café. Call or order online, and if you’re not sure what you want, share a little bit about yourself with the helpful staff. If the book you want isn’t available, they place weekly orders and will confirm when yours is ready. Shipping and curbside pickup are both available.
Bonus: “Drop in” for virtual book clubs, author chats and live daily storytime.
Find them: 844 Elm St., Manchester
Order and information: (603) 836-6600, website, Facebook
Gibson’s Bookstore, Concord
What they’re offering: They are in the store taking online and phone orders for shipping only, though they hope to resume curbside pickup toward the end of April. For shipping, you can choose either media mail or the 99 cent rate.
Find them: 45 S. Main St., Concord
Order and more information: (603) 224-0562, website, Facebook
The Toadstool Bookshops, Keene, Nashua and Peterborough
What they’re offering: Free shipping via media mail — call, email or visit the website to place an order. You can also arrange for curbside pickup.
Keene: 12 Emerald St.
Nashua: Somerset Plaza, 375 Amherst St., Route 101A
Peterborough: 12 Depot Sq.
Order and information:
Keene: (603) 352-8815, email email@example.com, Facebook
Nashua: (603) 673-1734, email firstname.lastname@example.org, Facebook
Peterborough: (603) 924-3543, email email@example.com, Facebook
Water Street Bookstore, Exeter
What they’re offering: Order online or by phone for free shipping, contactless curbside pickup or delivery in the Exeter area. Booksellers are in the store each day from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. to answer questions or help you choose a book.
Find them: 125 Water St., Exeter
Order and more information: (603) 778-9731, website, Facebook
RiverRun Bookstore, Portsmouth
What they’re offering: Order online or by phone for shipping, curbside pickup or delivery in the Portsmouth/Kittery, Maine, area.
Bonus: See their website or Facebook page for book recommendations. To celebrate his 50th birthday, RiverRun owner Tom Holbrook selected his 50 favorite books. Check out the list here.
Find them: 32 Daniel St., Portsmouth
Order and more information: (603) 431-2100, website, Facebook
Sheaf Street Books, Portsmouth
What they’re offering: Order “just about any book” via the online store.
Find them: 29 Sheaf St., Portsmouth
Ordering and more information: Order online and stay in touch via Facebook.
A Freethinker’s Corner, Dover
What they’re offering: Phone and online orders for shipping, local delivery and curbside pickup.
Bonus: Also offering audiobooks and ebooks.
Find them: 652 A Central Ave., Dover
Ordering and more information: (603) 343-2437, website, Facebook
Avenue Victor Hugo Books, Lee
What they’re offering: There are three ways to support Avenue Victor Hugo Books — order online for shipping, purchase a gift card, or buy a copy of Vince McCaffrey’s books.
Bonus: Check out our story on this unique shop.
Find them in the future: 1 Lee Hill Rd., Lee
Ordering and more information: Use the links above and stay in touch on Facebook.
Dartmouth/Lake Sunapee Region
Morgan Hill Bookstore, New London
What they’re offering: Online, email and phone orders for delivery in the area or curbside pickup.
Bonus: Check Facebook for book recommendations, plus other items for sale (puzzles, stuffed animals, gifts, etc.). You can also email for recommendations.
Find them: 253 Main St., New London
Order and more information: (603) 526-5850, email firstname.lastname@example.org, website, Facebook
MainStreet BookEnds, Warner
What they’re offering: Online, phone and email orders for books, gifts, toys, cards, art supplies, puzzles and much more for curbside pickup. They are closed Monday and Tuesday, and are available 1- 7 p.m. from Thursday-Friday and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. on the weekends.
Find them: 16 E. Main St., Warner
Order and more information: (603) 456-2700, email email@example.com, website, Facebook
Still North Books & Bar, Hanover
What they’re offering: Online only orders for shipping — books, puzzles and other items are available. Check their website and Facebook for updates on when phone/email orders and pickup may become available again.
Find them: 3 Allen St., Hanover
Bonus: Check out the website for staff picks (including a pandemic reading section and “really long” book suggestions) and information on audiobooks, and visit them on Facebook for virtual events.
Order and more information: (603) 676-7846, website, Facebook
Innisfree Bookshop, Meredith
What they’re offering: Phone, online and email orders for shipping, curbside pickup or local delivery. They are in the shop Tuesday-Saturday from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. for ordering by phone.
Find them: 312 Daniel Webster Hwy., Meredith
Bonus: See their website for staff picks and new releases.
Order and more information: (603) 279-3905, email firstname.lastname@example.org, website, Facebook
The Country Bookseller, Wolfeboro
What they’re offering: Order online, by phone or email for shipping, curbside pickup or local delivery. The store is staffed Monday-Saturday from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Shipping is $1 for orders $10 or above and free for orders of $50 and above.
Bonus: Visit the website for staff picks, new releases, information on downloading audiobooks and the virtual events schedule (story time, author events, book club).
Find them: 23 N. Main St., Wolfeboro
Order and more information: (603) 569-6030, website, Facebook
Bayswater Books, Center Harbor
What they’re offering: Curbside pickup and direct-to-home deliveries
Bonus: They are offering some books for free, as many of their used books were patron donations. Until they’re open for business as usual, these books are available 24 hours a day on the front porch.
Find them: 12 Main St., Center Harbor
Order and more information: (603) 253-8858, website, Facebook
White Mountains Region
White Birch Books, North Conway
What they’re offering: Phone, email and online ordering for curbside pickup and local delivery. The store is staffed 10 a.m.-5 p.m. every day except Sunday.
Find them: 2568 White Mountain Hwy., North Conway
Order and more information: (603) 356-3200, email email@example.com, website, Facebook