Bibliophiles, these Boston suburbs are for you.
Aspiring authors and bookworms will love these Boston towns. Kids and adults can get involved with local book clubs and attend author talks at independent bookstores. The active public libraries host everything from storytimes to poetry workshops — make sure to get your card as soon as you move to town. There are even some well-known authors that call these neighborhoods “home.” No matter what your favorite genre is, if you consider yourself a bibliophile, these towns are worth checking out.
The Book Rack has been the go-to place for local book lovers since 1999. You can shop for discounted used titles or even bring in your own gently-loved books to trade in. The store also carries bestsellers and new releases. Keep an eye out for a copy of the most recent selection for the Arlington Reads Together program. For 2022, the town selected Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer, and book discussions are set to take place at the Robbins Library throughout March.
And book clubs are just one thing that makes the Arlington public library so great. Here, residents can also attend lectures on a variety of subjects or bring their littles to storytime. This library even offers a unique collection of items for loan. Not only can you check out books, but cardholders can borrow kitchen gadgets, puzzles, musical instruments, American Girl Dolls, and more.
If graphic novels are more your thing, you’ll want to check out Magic Dragon Comics in the heart of town. The knowledgeable shop owner can recommend titles you might not have heard of before. After picking up your next read at any of these literary outlets in town, make your way to Kickstand Cafe to dive into your new book over a cup of coffee.
Plainville is home to author Jeff Kinney, best known for the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. Jeff and his wife Julie opened an independent bookstore in town called An Unlikely Story (you can request a signed Wimpy Kid book). Local families can browse the shelves to find new releases and classics. But this shop is much more than just a bookstore. There’s an in-store cafe and a second-story event space where residents can attend trivia nights or author talks. Check the schedule for upcoming programs.
Right down the road is the Plainville Public Library. This library offers a bunch of online resources, including Creativebug craft classes, digital magazines, and both audio and ebooks. Residents can also take advantage of the many community programs put on by the library. From Rhyme Time to the Family Adventures in Reading program to Books to Movies Mondays, there’s always something going on at the library.
The literary community is huge in Dedham. Children’s book author and illustrator Peter H. Reynolds lives in town and founded the beloved Blue Bunny Books & Toys store. Locals have been able to shop here for signed copies of Reynolds’s books and other popular children’s titles since 2003. Storytime is held at the shop for toddlers most Monday mornings. And the shop hosts other events, too, like the Smack Dab Author Festival for middle-school authors. This festival includes book signings, panel discussions, and writing workshops for 10-14-year-olds.
As you explore the town, you might notice a few Little Free Libraries where residents can pick up and share books with their community. And the town’s public library is also very active. The events calendar is filled with book club meetings and storytime sessions. The Dedham Library Innovation Team also works to bring a variety of literary-themed events to town, including author talks and Dedham reads together events.
And active families will want to sign up for the James Joyce Ramble 10k. This one-of-a-kind event includes volunteers reading passages from Joyce’s novels as runners pass by. There’s even a children’s ramble which ties in Peter H. Reynolds’s stories.
Brookline residents can hop between multiple bookshops right in the heart of town. There’s Brookline Booksmith, which has been going strong for 60 years. In addition to picking up a bestseller or an under-the-radar find, the shop regularly hosts author talks (including upcoming events with author Erica Ferencik and writer Quintin Collins). Check the calendar for other events like poetry writing workshops and book club meetings.
Nearby, step into New England Comics for an impressive selection of graphic novels and comic books. You can even trade in your old copies for store credit. And locals can take a short drive to another great bookstore in town – The Children’s Book Shop. This shop has been serving the town since 1977 and hosts a poetry contest each April for kids in grades K-8.
Of course, if you settle in Brookline you’ll also want to get a public library card as soon as possible. There are multiple locations in town where you can check out classics, attend a poetry reading or join a book club. And keep an eye on the Lowell Humanities Series calendar at the nearby Boston College. Community members can attend these discussions by distinguished writers, which throughout the program’s history have included Robert Frost and Maya Angelou.
This town is synonymous with the college and locals are often welcome to attend events on campus. While programming has slowed down since the pandemic, this college has often welcomed renowned authors and writers to discuss their work.
Wellesley Books is another spot in town to hear directly from authors. This award-winning shop has hosted authors like Kerri Maher and Anthony Doerr for Q&As and book-signing events. Residents can also browse the shelves for new releases and books by local authors. Did you know, the iconic poet Sylvia Plath attended high school in town?
Once you get your library card, you’ll have access to a huge catalog of physical and digital resources plus a packed calendar of book groups, storytimes, and more.
If you have young kids, be sure and swing by the Fells Branch Library (part of the Wellesley Free Library) while you’re at it. Originally a one-room schoolhouse, the Fells Branch became a library in 1923 and is the oldest municipal building in Wellesley. The library is open to all, but geared to kids 0-6.
Buttonwood Books and Toys is a community-focused bookshop that keeps books for all ages in stock – from picture books to indie bestsellers. This shop is a great place to get plugged into the local literary scene. They host tons of events like local authors signing day to book clubs and virtual author talks.
Across town is the Paul Pratt Memorial Library which locals love for its ample space to spread out. Whether you’ve got a budding writer in the family who needs a place to focus or you want to take your toddler to storytime, this is the place to go. There are even a few different book clubs you can join based on your reading preferences (yes, there’s a 50 State Mystery Book Club that focuses on a thriller set in a different state for each meeting).
Winchester has influenced tons of writers over the years, including Susan Cooper who found inspiration while cross-country skiing in town. The Winchester Foundation puts on Authorfest each year to help connect local students with authors who might encourage them to pursue this career path one day.
When locals are looking for a new book to read, they can head to the Winchester Public Library or browse the e-book collection online. And Book Ends is an excellent independent bookshop that’s been in the neighborhood since 1984. Here you’ll find unique titles and noteworthy new releases. When you stop in, be sure to ask about any upcoming author talks hosted by the shop. And for comic book fans, The Book and Board is just down the street.
Book lovers considering moving to Andover will want to visit Andover Bookstore right away. This is the oldest independent bookstore in America (it dates back to 1809) and in addition to offering great reads, it regularly hosts local and national authors. Mary McGarry Morris, Julia Glass, and David Ferry have all conducted discussions at the bookstore.
If anyone in your family wants to stretch their writing skills, this town has tons of opportunities for aspiring writers. Memorial Hall Library hosts a monthly writing group where participants can submit original pieces from any genre for feedback. And the Writers House at Merrimack College occasionally hosts events that are open to the public, like the upcoming poetry reading by the United States Poet Laureate Joy Harjo.
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