Best place to hear readings
Sure, at the big chain stores, there are boatloads of selections. But what you won't always find is soul. Newtonville Books, which celebrated its fifth birthday this month, is owned and run by literary man-about-town Tim Huggins, and the bookstore's readings are the best around. In the Books & Brews series, after a reading and signing in the bookstore, everyone heads off to a nearby restaurant for a drink and some food. And Cover 2 Cover pulls together local writers and musicians to read and perform work by their favorite influences. Alan Lightman, Rick Moody, Zadie Smith, Karl Iagnemma, Steve Almond, Laura Zigman, Michelle Chalfoun, and Neal Pollack are just a few of the authors that have read at Newtonville.
Harvard Book Store has a scene all its own. How many bookstores stay open until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays? It's a nightclub for the literarily lusty, a discotheque for those who get drunk on words, and it's where Phoenix readers get their literary fix and kicks. While you won't experience that library hush as you walk into the store, you will encounter the same serious esteem for the written word. And that's reflected in the Harvard Book Store's selection of books and in the authors it hosts, including some of the biggest names in writing today: Toni Morrison, Martin Amis, Jonathan Lethem, Tobias Wolff, Suzan-Lori Parks, Adam Haslett, and Harold Bloom, to name a few.
Newtonville Books, 296 Walnut Street, Newton, (617) 244-6619; Harvard Book Store, 1256 Mass Ave, Cambridge, (617) 661-1515.