While the vast selection of books in a famous independent bookstore like the Tattered Cover in Denver, CO is always something to celebrate, sometimes the best bookstores are the hidden gems, those out-of-the-way, hole-in-the-wall shops that we find by accident and return to on purpose. It’s something about the little-known, hard-to-reach quality that makes these places so magical. Here are seven of the most hidden and noteworthy bookstores worth going off the beaten path to explore.
Stone Soup Books (35 Main Street,
Camden, Maine): In a narrow, shingled building between a restaurant and a home goods shop, there is a staircase leading to a tiny store that is filled floor-to-ceiling with secondhand books. This is Stone Soup, founded in 1982 by Paul and Agnes Joy in the small coastal town of Camden, Maine. Though at first glance the stacked shelves may seem overwhelming, Mr. Joy has an amazing memory for his inventory and will help you find exactly what you’re looking for. Get lost in the large selection of contemporary and classic paperbacks, or their sections of nautical volumes, books on exploration, and Maine books.
The Montague Bookmill (north of Amherst and Northampton Massachusetts): The Montague Bookmill is so out of the way that their humorously self-effacing mantra is “Books you don’t need in a place you can’t find.” This used bookstore is housed in an 1842 gristmill on the banks of the Sawmill River. Your best bet is to follow the directions on their website, since they advise visitors not to use GPS. The destination is well worth the journey, as they have thousands of books, most of which are half-price. Their lovely store features cozy reading nooks, too.