3 of My Favorite Places in Boston to Get Books (not the law ones)

Contrary to popular belief, you can make a decent amount of time to pleasure read in law school. During 1L, a stereotypically time-crunched period, I saw my reading productivity sky rocket. It was a way to reclaim some sort of agency over the knowledge I was consuming. In the beginning of the first semester I read two of Woodward’s Nixon books (All the President’s Men, which left me yearning to know the ending, told in The Final Days), and over the course of winter I finished a trilogy of sorts that addresses the white, conservative discomfit with America’s direction (White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America, which offers a macro, historical perspective, Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right, which takes a more personal look at Louisiana in particular, and, of course, Hillbilly Elegy, micro, personal perspective).

For fellow bibliophiles, I want to share three Boston stores I visit to find books (the library should be an obvious starting place, especially for non-law books; BC has an extensive popular reading collection, and anything that isn’t somewhere on campus you can find on ILL, which, if you don’t know about, ask a librarian).

  1. The Brookline Booksmith. It’s relatively close to campus, in neighboring Brookline. The C-line goes right through Coolidge Corner, a block or two from where the store is located. Upstairs, they have new books and a children’s section (everyone should own children’s books for a variety of reasons; for fans of mystery-murder shows, I Want My Hat Back is a great place to start), and a cards/novelty gifts/gags/lewd signs section. My favorite section is downstairs, where the used books live. Brookline is a wealthy neighborhood, and this is reflected in the quality of the books, sometimes new releases, you find down there, for way less than the cover price.
  2. The Harvard Bookstore. Not to be confused with the Coop (co-op, coop? no idea), which is the university’s official bookstore, Harvard Bookstore is an independent shop that takes its name from the square it’s in (Harvard Square, on the redline/bus). A bit larger than the Booksmith, it has an impressive collection of new books spanning an array of topics. They also have a used book section downstairs, although less impressive than the Booksmith’s, despite the somewhat haughty environs. Pop directly next door to Bartley’s Burgers and you won’t be disappointed. HBS also hosts speakers, so sign up for their email listserv. In the past year, for five-dollars each (although their prices went up recently), I saw Ronan Farrow, Khizr Kahn, Arlie Hochschild, and James Comey (he was more expensive), among others, speak about their recent books and experiences.
  3. The Raven. Also in Harvard Square, it’s a five-minute walk from HBS that shows off the character of Boston’s northern neighbor. Raven is all used books, and the collection is less pop-y than the other two, but there are rarer finds. Striking out at the other two, I had a choice here among several copies of Nabakov’s Pale Fire (the book Ryan Gosling is reading in Blade Runner). This is a smaller store but worth the browse.

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