Some people might argue that if you’ve visited one bookstore, you’ve visited them all; how different can they possibly be? I know on the surface many have similar names and characteristics, but au contraire. I firmly believe in bookstore individuality, and just like you can’t judge its contents by their covers, you cannot judge a literary hub by its storefront.
So I make it my duty to visit as many bookstores as possible when I travel; thus, I’m introducing a new series to Big Little Literature of all the necessary deets about bookstores across the country: Shop ‘Til You Drop.
First up: Portland, Maine.
Portland is the home to literary hero, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow; therefore, it’s no wonder that this coastal getaway would also house a plethora of quaint bookstore waiting for its visitors to devour. In addition to visiting Longfellow’s home (which is now known as the Maine Historical Society), I hit up four very different bookstores during my two-day stay in Portland. They were full of charm, character, and, of course, beautiful books.
If you’re looking for …
… charm, Sherman’s is the place to be.
Sherman’s Books & Stationary is located in the heart of the Old Port, and it fits right in with the area’s boutiques and tasty treasures. It’s the quintessential coastal town bookstore with decorated window seating calling you to read, an array of local reads, and an excellent cooking section full of diverse cookbooks and gadgets. There’s also a variety of knick-knacks and goodies to satisfy your tourist needs, and did I mention the bookcase devoted to cats? You should probably check it out.
49 Exchange St.
… something unique, check out Yes Books.
You know those places that are almost overwhelming with their selection, yet you can’t help but be in awe? Every town has one, and Portland’s is Yes Books. I won’t lie, to get value out of this place, you have to be committed. If you have the time and effort, though, this used bookstore along Portland’s main drag is worth a stop. Give Yes Books the time, and you’re sure to find something unique. Not to mention its zero f#$%s style is refreshing in a world of super hip lit hubs.
589 Congress St.
… future home inspo, stop by Print: A Bookstore.
My boyfriend and I have a deal for our future home: He gets a game room if (and only if) I have a library. It can’t be just any library though; I need a bay window and of course a pretty ladder to reach all of my books that tower over the expansive room. Print gave me some major feels with its library-esque and modern vibes. It’s very organized and clean, and it’s even participating in The Great American Read (check out my upcoming post for more details!). Most importantly, however, it has the ladder that every book-lover desires. If only it had the spiral staircase…
273 Congress St.
… a local gem, Longfellow Books has you covered.
This bookstore’s eponym made his impact on the city of Portland. His presence is felt all across the city from statues to apartment buildings to a museum at his former house. It would be a crime to not name a bookstore after him. Thank goodness for Longfellow Books. This place has a little bit of everything, including a large collection of staff picks, as well as a solid used-book and classics section.
1 Monument Way
Portland is home to a few other bookstores that sadly I didn’t get a chance to visit (I only had two days!), and it also provides ample space for reading. From its picnic spots on the Eastern Promenade to the piers overlooking the bay, this city has many nooks and crannies for you to get your read on.