Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Wilder Pictures: Beautiful Old Books at The Barrow

For many people, the small town of Concord, Massachusetts is a pilgrimage site. Once home to the great thinkers of the transcendentalist movement such as Emerson, Thoreau, Hawthorne, and the Alcotts, Concord has one of the riches literary histories in the country.

I grew up with Concord as my backyard. We'd go swimming in Walden pond (and I still swim across the pond for a workout in the warmer months), I'd go to the Friendly's there after soccer games, and I loved the toy store on Main Street. The literature was not lost on me, though; I read Little Women 13 times, and I underlined Emerson's words in my high school anthology obsessively. The place is in my blood and my mind, and these days, in my daily life. I often find myself in the Main Street Cafe, working in the sun on the banquette by the window (books and photos after the jump).

Today, after meeting someone at the cafe for coffee, I strolled down the street to The Barrow Bookstore, a sweet little store off a side street. The Barrow, owned by Pam Fenn, specializes in books on Concord's history and children's books. "I don't buy just anything," Pam told me. "Just because it's a used book, doesn't mean I'll stock it. It has to be special and worthy." A look around the shop and you can see she means it--the books are of the highest caliber, from Whitman to more modern writers. "I do carry some new books as well," she said, "but they, too, have to be good."

Pam and I chatted for a while about literature. Hawthorne is her favorite because, as she said, "he's a bit more grounded than the other [trancendentalists]. They had their head in the clouds, he had his feet on the ground." She's a lovely woman who knows her stuff; if you're a book buff and a nerd like I am, I highly recommend making the trip to meet her and browse the books.

Here are a few photos I took (note the title of one of the books in the first photo above):


  1. a great place - I have been there often and ALWAYS come away with great stuff to read.

  2. i want to read tons of books now :)

    just liked your fb page
    please check mine at

  3. I'm working on my Agatha Cristie collection! I simply can not pass up a used book store...



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