Being Bookish in Boston

As I mentioned in my last post, my boyfriend and I took a little trip to Boston earlier this week! It’s one of my favorite cities, and it was really fun to relive some childhood memories walking by Paul Revere’s house and visiting the Make Way For Ducklings statues in the Common — as well as to create new memories cheering on the Red Sox at Fenway and taking a tour of the Sam Adams Brewery.

Although we were only in Beantown for two days, we still managed to fit in some book tourism! (Tom is wonderfully accommodating of my nerdiness.) The first day, we visited the Boston Public Library. According to Wikipedia, it was established in 1848 and is the first publicly supported municipal library in the U.S., the first large library open to the public in the U.S., and the first public library to allow people to take borrowed materials home to read. It contains 8.9 million books and AV materials and is the second largest public library in the country (following the Library of Congress)!

Boston Public Library

We only stopped in for a few minutes, but we managed to stumble upon the most beautiful courtyard, complete with arched walkways, refreshing greenery, and a soothing fountain. I could have spent hours there, sitting at an iron patio table and enjoying this serene environment in the midst of the busy city, but alas we had to be moving on!

Boston Public Library

On our last day in Boston, we took the T out to Cambridge to visit that most famous of American universities… Harvard! Our first stop was the Harvard Book Store, a privately owned, independent bookstore where my self control gave in to my desperate desire for MORE BOOKS. MORE! Of course, I was able to rationalize my purchases with the fact that I did not pay full price for any of the four books I bought. One of the Remainders tables had a pretty good selection — I purchased A Passage to India by E.M. Forster and A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again by David Foster Wallace for less than $6 each and managed to pass over other books by Jonathan Franzen,  Umberto Eco, and  Tom Perrotta (okay, so I retained a little bit of self control). Definitely the best selection of remainders I’ve ever seen! And of course, I couldn’t stay away from the Select Seventy shelf, which offers top titles at a 20% discount — I picked up State of Wonder by Ann Patchett and Blue Nights by Joan Didion.

Harvard Book Store

My final act of nerdiness was to have Tom take my picture reading on the steps of Harvard’s Harry Elkins Widener Memorial Library. I imagine this is how Harvard students (or the Wicked Smaht People Across the Rivah, as they are known in Boston) read. SUPER INTELLECTUAL!

Harvard library

Does anyone else like to check out the bookish sites while traveling? Have you visited any great bookstores, libraries, authors’ homes, etc?


15 thoughts on “Being Bookish in Boston

  1. I love Boston, and I haven’t been there in so long. I always wanted to take a New England author tour and visit gravesites, old houses, etc. I will do it some day!

  2. Awesome pics, but I won’t lie – I love that last pic of you! 🙂 😛
    Sadly…there just aren’t that many bookish sites in Australia. When I travel back to England in the near future, however….

    • Haha thanks! I’m pretty sure my boyfriend was mortified to be seen with me 😛
      Aww that is too bad! But I’m sure you will have a marvelous time book-nerding it up in England. How will you ever choose from the plethora of sites to see?!

      • Bahahaha! Nah, I’m sure he felt overwhelmed by how cultured you are! 😛
        With England, I think I will look at sites near where my family live (though my family are stretched throughout the country). I know there’s a number of famous authors in the Lake District up north, like Wordsworth for example. 🙂

        • YES, that must be it… we’ll go with that 😛
          Will you be traveling throughout the country or mainly staying in the Lake District? Sounds fun either way! The only bookish visit I made in England was to the Jane Austen Center in Bath, which was fun 🙂

  3. Glad you enjoyed your trip here! Boston is a wonderful city. And though I’ve lived here my whole life and have always been an avid reader, I really haven’t done too many bookish things in the city. At work we have “Summer hours” during which we work extra Mon-Thurs so we can get a half-day on Friday. I think I may look up some hidden gem book shops to visit on Fridays 🙂

    • Ahh you’re so lucky to live there! I lived near Boston from ages 5 to 9 and would love to move back.

      It’s so nice your work lets you do that! Ooh that sounds so lovely, getting out of work early on a sunny summer Friday and browsing indie book shops — have fun!

  4. Oh, I love the pictures! The amount of bookish things I do on vacation varies, but when I was in high school my parents, brother and I took a New England vacation, on which I had a lot of input–so we stopped at Mark Twain’s house in Connecticut and in Salem, MA at the House of the Seven Gables (Hawthorne). I don’t think I’ve ever been in a book store as nice as Harvard Book Store sounds, though.

    • Sounds like that was a really fun trip! I visited the House of the Seven Gables when I was about 8 — I had no idea who Nathaniel Hawthorne was, but it was a cool house nonetheless 😛

  5. Lovely pictures! I have never been to Boston (obviously, as I’ve never been outside of Europe), but it looks lovely.

    Enjoy State of Wonder! I know I did 🙂

  6. Leah,

    I’m catching up with your Top 10 Tuesday, and since I’m still a newer follower of yours, this blog post was new to me! I am so much like you in that way that every time I am in a new city, I look around for (and kind of judge the city based on) their book stores, or book related places. For instance, when I was in Savannah I was ecstatic since that was where “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” takes place! And last summer when my husband and I went to Rome, I read (on his insistence) “Angels and Demons” which has so many Rome references that it was fun when we were out exploring to notice the places that the book discusses!

    I feel like traveling is more exciting when you have the book background knowledge!


    • Haha isn’t book tourism the greatest?! The only other bookstore I’ve visited while traveling is City Lights in San Francisco. It was so exciting to be in a place so central to the Beat movement! I had fun exploring Rome with Angels and Demons in mind, too; I got a kick out of crossing the Bridge of Angels, visiting the Castel Sant’Angelo, and seeing the Fountain of Four Rivers in Piazza Navona. How great that we have that in common!

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