In Vermont: Two Special Bookshops

John Turner
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The Bear Pond Bookshop in Montpelier is the core of the city. If you’ve lived in Montpelier for a while and you go there, you’ll see someone you know. And then, there’ll be a little talk. It may not be of much consequence but it will leave you feeling like you’re engaged with humanity. It’s not a big store by Barnes and Noble standards, but the inventory is intelligently chosen, and most days, there’ll be something on the display counters to make you wish you had plenty of money to buy all the books you want. If you’re not from Montpelier, I don’t know that it would make sense to go there just to see the Bear Pond. But if you do go to Montpelier, for whatever reason, it’s not a place you should miss. Click on the picture to link to the Bear Pond website.
The Country Bookshop in Plainfield is owned and operated by my old friend and former student Ben Koenig. Years ago when Ben told his friends he was going into the used book business, we all told him he was crazy. It’s impossible to make a living that way, we said. Yet, somehow Ben has made a living and now he has a substantial bookstore with a rich collection. And, it seems to get better all the time. His section on literary criticism has expanded dramatically since the last time I checked. I found a volume from the uniform edition of the works of Lionel Trilling I’ve wanted for a long time. I think people who do things like Ben did are far more to be admired than someone who climbs up to head a large organization. They seldom become “big” in the American sense of the term, but they add a richness and independence to all our lives that makes American freedom real. I hope people will keep on doing things their friends tell them are crazy, and keep on making a go of them despite the odds. Click on the picture to link to the Country Bookshop website.