Sure, Brooklyn’s got a thriving literary scene, but does it have six — count ’em, six — independent booksellers all within a block of one another? In Hobart, N.Y., Main Street is lined with bookstores run by characters as big as any you’ll find in fiction.
A view of the Delaware River, plump chairs, and free coffee and tea sweeten the deal.
Here’s your guide to visiting this cozy village just a few hours from Brooklyn.
Books, books and more books
Adams’ Antiquarian Book Shop
So, a doctor and an attorney start a bookstore. No joke. Just the story of a former NYC couple, Bill and Diana Adams, who visited Hobart in 2001 and launched a business that’s since become an anchor store. Visit their bright blue three-story shop in good weather and enjoy tea and biscuits on two back decks overlooking the water.
Blenheim Hill Books
With wide-paned windows and flower boxes, merlot walls and forest green bookshelves, this shop offers “a warm atmosphere, for warm readers, run by warm people,” namely poet Cheryl Clarke and historian Barbara Balliet. The two (along with Cheryl’s sister, novelist Breena Clarke) also run an annual literary event in September, the Hobart Festival of Women Writers.
Butternut Valley Books
Carmen Sandiego would feel right at home. Along with books, Dennis Lauchman also deals in local and global maps, fine art prints and bookends. Like Carmen, Dennis is a world traveler who’s bought and sold books in New York, Pennsylvania, and Holland.
Creative Corner Books
Get your DIY on at Hobart’s newest bookstore, which features craft books and cookbooks, demonstrations and workshops. Kathy and George Duyer also stock local farm products including maple syrup, maple sugar, and honey, local knitted goods, vintage aprons, and handmade pottery.
Liberty Rock Books
Renovated by an HGTV builder, this shop once housed an auto garage and propane distributor. Buttercream walls, exposed ceiling beams, and shiny ductwork wrap this 5,000-square-foot space. Notable collections include James Joyce, Native American works, art books, and 19th and 20th-century children’s books, plus jazz records and CDs, 40,000 vintage postcards, and consignment books from Brooklyn’s Ugly Duckling Presse.
Mysteries & More Crime Cafe
In the library with a lead pipe? Behind the restored Greek Revival facade is a pump organ, other period objects, and a large dining table where Don Dales chats up mystery, suspense, thriller, cozy and science fiction readers. Linger over locally made pastries and snacks and savor the river’s-edge view.
While you’re book shopping, check out these other stops along the same block as the bookstores.
Paper Moon Bookbinding
Picture a walk-in cabinet of curiosities. Amy Morris Pickens curates items for lovers of paper and book arts, displaying vintage cards, ephemera, glass paperweights and books in carefully arranged vignettes.
MURAL on Main Gallery
An acronym for Mount Utsayantha Regional Arts League, this storefront houses a fine art gallery featuring the work of regional artists, mounting new exhibits at least five times a year. Sharing the space is a gift shop that sells items hand crafted by local artisans.
And for even more shopping, these are all within a couple minutes’ drive.
The Sheep’s Nest
Inside this reproduction Cotswold cottage built by her contractor husband, designer/artist Kim Whritner has put together fetching displays of housewares, jewelry, furniture and gifts.
Second Wind Furniture and Antiques
Bring your van or U-Haul. Refurbisher/refinisher Steve Coster’s inventory overflows the porch and basement, and it’s all crazy affordable. When the signboard is out and Steve’s working on his latest project in the driveway, that’s when the store’s open.
If you need something to eat, these Main Street spots are all in walking distance.
The Coffee Pot
Serving breakfast and brunch ’til 1:30 p.m., this cozy eatery should be subtitled Where’s Waldo? The Diner Edition, as hundreds of vintage collectibles — many gifts from longtime customers — line the wood-paneled walls.
The Dinner Plate
Classic American fare with burgers, steaks, chicken, pork, fish, pasta and salads, and nonalcoholic beverages.
The Bull & Garland
This eagerly anticipated English pub and inn is scheduled to open sometime this summer.
Need a place to stay? These spots are all a two-minute drive from the shops.
Breezy Acres: Lodge local on a former dairy farm turned B&B. Choose from three rooms, all with private baths, hosted by Dave and Joie Barber.
The Rich Country Farmhouse: This rural rental with three bedrooms sleeps six, but you’ll want to rise early to fire up the still-working antique Glenwood cookstove, America’s first true home appliance.
The Coffee Pot: No, it doesn’t offer lodging…just yet. But the business/building’s for sale at $420,000 and includes two upper apartments. If you want to turn over a new leaf in the Book Village of the Catskills, make an offer.
How to get there from Brooklyn
Hobart, N.Y. is about three-and-a-half hours from Brooklyn by car. Take I-87 N to Exit 19, then NY-28 W to Shandaken. Turn right onto NY-42 N. In Lexington, turn left onto NY-23A W and in Stamford, turn left onto NY-10 S. By bus, it’s possible to take Trailways to nearby Stamford, N.Y., but the nearest taxi service is 18 miles away.
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Businesses Mentioned Above