The Best Books and Bookstores in Burlington

Amidst the rolling hills of Vermont’s Champlain Valley nestle the bucolic charms of Vermont: small towns, covered bridges andâÂ?¦bookstores? Yes, indeed. Some of New England’s best independent and used bookstores are tucked in and around Burlington, the state’s largest city. Here’s a highly biased and loving account of the best.

Book Keeper. 141 Knight Lane, Williston, VT 05495. (802) 872-9545. The Book Keeper, located near Williston’s Tafts Corners, is quite possibly my favorite in the state. The store’s two floors of inventory have a rough, unfinished air, making it seem like you’re in an attic where you could discover a treasure at any moment. Books of all subjects reach from floor to ceiling, with focuses on Vermontiana and railroad history. Sit under one of the many windows and, with the Green Mountains as a backdrop, enjoy a good read. With fair prices and diverse selection, the Book Keeper is also a customer keeper.

Book Rack and Children’s Pages. 21 Essex Way, Essex Junction, VT 05452. (802) 872-2627. http://www.bookrackvermont.com. One of the only independent, general-interest bookstores left in the area, the Book Rack (with its kids’ section, the Children’s Pages) is situated conveniently in the Essex Outlet Center. The Book Rack contains a rather small, but representative, selection of contemporary best-sellers and classics for adults and children. They may not have what you’re looking for, but they can order it, and the zealous bibliophiles on staff provide exemplary customer service. Additionally, the Book Rack stocks local authors and hosts discussions, as well as a book group series.

Bygone Books. PO Box 5034, Burlington, VT 05402-5034. (802) 862-4397. http://www.abebooks.com/home/bygone/. This gem of the Vermont bookselling scene has sadly closed its doors to drop-in visitors, but some of its inventory has moved to the Champlain Valley Antique Center in Shelburne. Call to arrange visiting hours or to request titles. Bygone specializes in Vermontiana, children’s literature, women’s studies and books about the domestic arts. Its homey thematic focus gives it a cozy, welcoming air.

Crow Bookshop. 14 Church Street, Burlington, VT 05401. (802) 862-0848. http://www.crowbooks.com. Competing for attention among the many storefronts on Burlington’s bustling Church Street, the Crow Bookshop catches the book lover’s eye with its nicely crammed, but attractive and browsable, presentation. Your source for history, philosophy, women’s studies and other scholarly subjects, the Crow Bookshop also provides a selection of lavish art books, children’s lit and general overstock. The store is notable for its offerings of independent and underground comics. Prices are very reasonable.

Flying Pig Children’s Books. 86 Ferry Road, PO Box 147, Charlotte, VT 05445. (802) 425-2600. http://www.flyingpigbooks.com. A short drive outside of Burlington, Flying Pig sells new books for adults and kids, but, as the fanciful name suggests, this indie really shines in the area of kids’ lit. Prices are, pleasingly, a bit lower than you’d expect. With hardcover bestsellers at least 20% off and a discount program for educators and repeat customers, Flying Pig keeps you coming back.

North Country Books. 2 Church Street, Burlington, VT 05401. (802) 862-6413. Stocking comics, CDs and ephemera as well as books, North Country Books’ holdings sprawl across the entire lower level of 2 Church Street. The subject matter varies wildly, from romances to ancient Greek philosophy, and prices do as well. North Country sells cheap mass-market paperbacks, as well as collectible titles displayed behind glass. They’re understaffed, so it’s hard to get customer service, but those who enjoy patient searching will reap rewards.

Peace and Justice Store. 21 Church Street, Burlington, VT 05401. (802) 863-8326. http://www.pjcvt.org. The Peace and Justice Center prides itself on being a fair-trade store that features books and crafts from around the world. It also sells manuals and humor about sexuality, including a large section of titles and periodicals for the GLBTQ crowd. I wager that it’s the only store in the state with Transgender Tapestry on its newsstandâÂ?¦and that’s a good thing! This is the place to taste the crunchy, hippie side of Burlington and get the scoop on local grassroots action from the friendly staff.

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