One of my main criteria when deciding if I will ever return to a vacation destination is the presence of a great bookstore. After all, you need a place to learn about the local history, food, art, and culture of the area, as well as grab a couple of trashy local gossip books to take to the beach with you.
Maybe you want to find the perfect book for a snuggle-down with lots of pillows, wrapped in your duvet, in front of the fireplace in your vacation suite. A glass of local wine, a cup of Chef Carolyn’s seasonal hot cider, or a cup of THCO drinking chocolate, completes my concept of heaven!
And, of course, what better gift to give when you get home, than a book about where you have been? Beats a tee shirt!
Let’s Explore our Bookstores
In East Hampton we are lucky to have BookHampton, an excellent bookstore at 41 Main Street, with great light, great books and a knowledgeable staff willing to share their love of books. Couple that with a whole section of local books (local authors, local artists, local chefs, & local history) and numerous events with locals … and lots of children’s books too. Makes my heart sing! And, passing by on a recent Christmastime evening, we were drawn in by the strains of a choir of local angels, singing carols!
Simphiwe Ndzube Study for a Voyage, Courtesy of Harper’s Books
Harper's Books, at 87 Newtown Lane, is one of those rare treasures - a used bookshop and gallery specializing in rare photography, art, and literary books, with particular emphasis on association copies, landmark items in exceptional condition, and unique examples of work personalized by artists and writers. In addition to their book business, they have year round shows of fine art and photography open to the public. Worth the walk just to go in and browse but I have never come out empty handed!
Are you ready (finally) to start hand-writing your memoir? Do you have a precious old book you want to preserve? Maybe you need a very special gift for the desk of your favorite CEO, or have an empty bookcase crying out for a wall of faux book spines? Vogel Bindery, at 30 Blue Jay Way, also in East Hampton, has been crafting books entirely by hand using traditional techniques virtually unchanged for 300 years.
Approximately forty steps go into the making of a book. Starting with 100% cotton rag paper that is cut, folded and sewn together by hand to become the text block. Ending with the final step of hand-tooling a design in 24K gold onto the leather cover. Each step is carefully considered and meticulously executed.
Canio's Books, at 290 Main Street In Sag Harbor, has been hosting its author reading series since 1981, and its Moby Dick marathon readings have brought crowds to the bookshop in celebration of the great American novel that mentions Sag Harbor. In 1999, Maryann Calendrille, a writer, and Kathryn Szoka, a photographer, took over Canio’s Books developing the tradition of readings, concerts, and community events, and adding their own particular interests and talents.
Both teach workshops at the store. Kathryn focuses on photography and has expanded Canio's Gallery to highlight local artists. The carefully curated book collection includes new and used literature, fiction and non-fiction, lovely children’s books, art, poetry, and history, plus books on cooking, food, the environment, nature and spirituality. One requirement is that all books are very well written and worth reading.
Harbor Books and Dobrá Tea
Also in Sag Harbor, Harbor Books and Dobrá Tea (at 20 Main Street) - you can grab a tea, grab a book or two, sit down in big cozy chairs, to get lost (and found!) They believe that reading enriches lives, families, and communities. That books are cultural treasures to be kept in trust by those that recognize the value that they hold. It is not just about the product, but about the experience.
The store is designed so readers can pass hours among the spirits of Ernest Hemingway, John Steinbeck, Margaret Mitchell and the celebrated poet George Sterling. Everything in the store is custom made, antique or scavenged. The only way to the Lands Beyond is through the Phantom Tollbooth … What a special journey!
Vintage Map of Long Island
Southampton Books, an independent bookstore at 16 Hampton Road in the village of Southampton, has the newest best-sellers as well as a large selection of rare & collectible first editions and signed books. Plus they offer a unique collection of Local Books (including quite a few that look like I need to buy to fill out my collection!), collectible Comics, and more. They also offer appraisals if you want to unload a few precious volumes in order to buy a new Ferrari!
So, in a nutshell, East Hampton has everything you need for a perfect vacation: the Mill House Inn, the best breakfast, abundant beaches, mouth-watering wineries, world-class restaurants, and great bookstores! What else could you ask for?
See you soon,
Reading on Maidstone Beach
If you haven’t already, check out our previous Reading List blogs: