Tuesday, October 25, 2022

A Little Bit of Hudson Valley Bookstore Tour

My husband celebrated his 50th birthday recently and wanted to do a weekend getaway to mark the occasion. He chose the Hudson Valley region for its natural beauty and reputation for being a mecca for bookstores.

Pretty leaves in Poughkeepsie
I brought my baby yoda, Eugenie, and we stayed in lovely New Paltz, New York, at a pretty mountain hotel where we could spend the weekend calling into some great bookstores. We visited New Paltz, Rhinebeck, Poughkeepsie and Hyde Park. I'm sure we missed a lot but we enjoyed what we found!

Eugenie in front of the hotel & cliffs

New Paltz, or as I call it, Ashland-on-the-Hudson*, is home to SUNY's art school and the many brunch places and shops selling art supplies, herbs, tie-dyed clothing and things with witches on them bear this out. But like any good college town it also has some nice bookstores.

My favorite was Barner Books, an adorable shop with a beautifully arranged and curated selection of used and rare books. Of all the bookstores we visited this weekend I think Barner Books had the largest selection of fiction. I came away with two books, both by Linnea Hartsukyer- The Half-Drowned King and The Sea Queen, volumes 1 and 2 of her series about Vikings. Barner also had some very nice rarities and a better-than-I-often-see-at-used-stores SFF and horror section.

Eugenie is excited for new books.
Right across the street is Inquiring Minds Bookstore, a combo of new and used books which had the advantage of being open extra early so we had somewhere to go while we waited for a spot to open up for us at the big brunch place, Main Street Tavern. This is a cool winding labrynthine store with a nice fiction section and new books near the door.  I didn't actually find anything here but my husband bought some cool playing cards and we both enjoyed our visit.

We visited Oblong Books and Music in nearby Rhinebeck, twice. Oblong is a traditional new-book indie with a great selection of everything. The fiction section was really good and about 1/3 of the store was devoted to one of the most beautiful childrens' sections I've seen. On our first visit I picked up what looks like a new book by favorite author Andrew Miller, The Slowworm's Song, set in Northern Ireland. His book Pure was one of my favorites the year it came out. I can't wait to read this!

Checking out the paperback table at Oblong!

On our second visit I paid more attention to the "and Music" side of the store and left with a CD of piano music, La Muse OubliƩe, containing pieces written by women such as Amy Beach, Fanny Mendelssohn and others. We listened to it on the way home and it was really enjoyable.

The town of Rhinebeck was delightful with adorable shops and restaurants. We also visited Megabrain Comics and Arcade, where we picked up The Galaxy's Edge Cookbook with recipes like Mandalorian Stew (you can bring it in warm, or you can bring it in cold) and others.

Finally in pretty Poughkeepsie we visited the Friend's Bookstore of the Poughkeepsie Public Library, a vast warehouse space containing all manner of used books. They had everything from mass market fiction to rarities about the Roosevelts and a truly impressive selection of cookbooks. I got a mass-market edition of Interview with the Vampire for 50 cents just cause I'm curious about it.

I know we probably missed a lot of area bookstores so I would love to know what your favorite bookstore in the region is!

*Ashland, Oregon, being a hippy town with lots of bookstores.

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