Rambling through Boston: Brattle Book Shop

http://www.brattlebookshop.com/

Recently, I decided to check one of many endeavors off of my “like-to-do” list (not a bucket list, as for me that would be comprised of things that would be a little harder to accomplish), and I hopped on a train to downtown Boston to explore the Brattle Book Shop.

Brattle Book Shop is a used bookstore just a stone’s throw from Boston Common. It’s been around since 1825. Seriously. You can get more info at the link above.

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The first thing you’ll notice about Brattle is the outdoor section of the bookstore. In the alley next to the building, shelves line the walls to the right and left. Luckily it was a sunny, somewhat mild day when I decided to venture there, so I was able to browse these books for a little while. The books on the left side shelves are all $3; the other side, $5.

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I didn’t take the time to scour every title. I rarely have the patience for that. I just scanned a good number of shelves until I had found a few books I wanted to buy. There was quite a range of books, from totally obscure titles that could only interest a niche audience to very popular books, like volumes of Harry Potter and James Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.

Toward the back of the outdoor area, they also had this stack of cool painted doors, all book-themed designs. I’m not entirely certain what they use them for, but I’m guessing they use them to close up the shelves when the store is closed, and maybe during the winter. I snapped a picture for reference. I’m sure there are many better pictures out there, but here you go…

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Here are the books I picked up:

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The first one I spotted was the Marguerite Yourcenar book. Granted, I had no idea who Mishima was, even though he was[is] very well-known (as Wikipedia told me), but I read Memoirs of Hadrian in college, and as a result have dubbed Yourcenar one of my favorite writers. I just had to get it. Tove Jansson was a name I remembered seeing quite a bit when I was working at the Harvard Coop. The Summer Book seemed like it would be the perfect thing to read in the coming months, so I snatched that one up. The last title is an illustrated edition of The Three Musketeers from the ’50s. It’s not valuable or anything, or it would have been in the rare book room instead of the $3 wall. As you might have guessed, it’s an abridged version. it just seemed like a fun thing to own, and I thought the illustrations were pretty cool.

I decided three books was a good amount. I stepped inside to pay, first having a quick look around the inside of the store. I didn’t take too much time inside, but I can say that they had a very wide selection, on shelves reaching up to the ceiling. Fiction was on the first floor, along with a few other categories. Scholarly books were mostly on the second floor. The rare book room was also on the second floor. I didn’t check it out this time around, I think I was just to nervous at the prospect of being in a room with so many valuable books. I did have a glance over the huge posters they had stuck all over the wall leading up to the second floor showing some of the rare books they  had sold and the prices they’d gone for. I think the least expensive one was $250. They even once had a first edition Cat in the Hat. Cool.

I would recommend this store to anyone who might be looking for rare books (to buy or not), and to anyone who enjoys weeding through shelves to find something unexpected, unfamiliar, a discovery for your home library. It’s definitely a worthwhile book-lover’s outing. In addition, it’s surrounded by many restaurants as well as being very close to the Boston Common. You could get a book, then grab a sandwich or something, head on over to the grass and settle in for a picnic with your new literary find. Hell, that sounds lovely. I think I’m going to do it sometime this summer.

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Posted on April 6, 2013, in Blog, Boston, Food and Drink, Life and Style, Places and Travel and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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