After my brief but fun August family trip in Cape Cod, I tacked on a 36-hour trip to Boston. Mainly, I wanted to visit bookstores. Why? Two reasons. One, I love books, and two, I wanted sing the praises of the Best Women's Erotica of the Year series, both supporting the bookstores that have stocked Volume 1 (Volume 2 pubs December 13th) and asking other stores if they would consider carrying it.
My original plan was to visit 6-7 Boston area bookstores but with my limited time, I wound up going to four: Porter Square Books and Harvard Bookstore in Cambridge, Brookline Booksmith in Brookline and Papercuts J.P. in Jamaica Plain. All of them I follow on social media, but that doesn't tell you precisely what it feels like to walk around a bookstore, to take in its energy and color and arrangements. I got to see how they shelved their romance and erotica and other categories and simply got a feel for what books they value. I can say with certainty that if I lived in Boston, I would shop at all of these stores on a regular basis. I'm so glad I got to browse and shop at these stores; I bought one or two books at each, because I think I have a much better chance of getting a store to listen to me if I'm also a customer, not to mention the fact that they all had amazing books.
When I'm going to have time for my giant to read stack, I'm not sure, but I will find the time by the end of the year. I sometimes walk around my neighborhood with a book in front of my face so I can multitask (yes, it's safe, I don't go in areas where there's lots of car traffic). During my trip, I also saw some wonderful art at the ICA museum. If I go back, I'll visit some of the ones I missed.
Here are the stores in the order in which I visited them.
Porter Square Books was a wonderful Cambridge bookstore that had an interesting Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump display. I bought the essay collection Known and Strange Things by Teju Cole.
Harvard Book Store - I'd been eager to visit this bookstore, in part because I applied to Harvard for undergrad and got rejected, in part because I've enjoyed Cambridge and Harvard Square the times I've visited, and in part because online they seem like they have a lot of erotica. I could have spent much more time here browsing their shelves. I liked that they had romances by authors such as Sonali Dev and Sarah MacLean, among others, and several other Cleis Press titles in their romance classics and erotica section, including my beloved BWE anthology! I bought the YA novel Learning to Swear in America by Katie Kennedy.
Brookline Booksmith - this was a store I also wanted to visit because I knew they stocked my book which interestingly enough is in the sexuality section alongside titles like The Joy of Sex, science and sex book Come As You Are by Emily Nagoski and The Ultimate Guide to Solo Sex by Jenny Block. I loved the layout and design (and it's right down the street from Good Vibrations and pizzeria Otto, which I know from my Portland, Maine visits). I bought the novel Visitation by Jenny Erpenbeck because it's set in Berlin and I'm planning to make my first trip there next spring. After the sex books are some funny titles they had by the counter, including Weird Things Customers Say in Bookstores and the excellently titled Women Who Read Are Dangerous.
Papercuts J.P. - I took an Uber from Brookline to Jamaica Plain and was so excited to visit Papercuts I forgot to take a photo of the outside of the store. This is a small bookstore, which recently celebrated its one-year anniversary. I've been following them avidly on Twitter and was excited to check them out, especially because they have a podcast and their very own anthology. What was very cool is that even though it's a small store, it's super welcoming and even has a couch!
I wound up buying two books, breaking my one book per store rule (because my shelves at home are bursting), because while I bought their The Papercuts Anthology: What Happened Here, Volume 1, which includes work by authors who've read at the store during their first year, which I think is an awesome idea. I did see it at other bookstores but obviously had to buy it where it originated. I wound up also buying An Exaggerated Murder by Josh Cook, who actually works at Porter Square, because as a frequent mystery reader, I loved the idea of such an over-the-top concept and also the Chinatown reference, which cropped up last year in the play my boyfriend wrote, where he not so subtly shamed a character who largely resembles me for not having seen classic movies. As I told him, I finally get the joke on the page from the book pictured below.