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Spotlight on Bookstores: Willow Books in Acton, Mass.

Willow Books is a lovely independent bookstore not far from us; it’s in a small strip mall next to an insurance company, with plenty of parking.  Because they have a good amount of real estate, they’re able to arrange the store fixtures to keep an open and airy feeling.  When you walk in to Willow Books, the first thing you might notice are the low bookshelves; the clear sightlines across the store let you easily scan to find the section you’re looking for – from the cafe to cards and gifts to … BOOKS!

My 5-year-old son likes to go there on Tuesday mornings for theirchildren’s storytime.  Rather than hold it in the back of the store in the children’s department, it’s right up front near the small cafe, where light streams in from the floor-to-ceiling windows.  Kids and caregivers sit on a comfy rug and a storyteller – not a bookseller, but someone brought in for the event – holds their rapt attention.  Her program runs around a theme – apples or insects or snow – whatever is timely.  She has handpuppets, a few songs or fingerplays, and, of course, stories to read!

After storytime we wander the store; LM5 has more than once looked at the covers of the cookbooks in the overstock bins up front and suggested that we buy one so “you can cook something really good and different, Mom!”

We’ve had cocoa, coffee, and cookies at the cafe (how’s that for alliteration!??), which also serves breakfast treats, soups, salads, and small sandwiches.  A bulletin board around the corner lists local news, services, and events.

Willow Books has a nice gift section, with cards, bookmarks, journals, and other trinkets for book lovers.  They even carry the Book Buddy!

By far, the section we spend the most time in is the children’s department.  Aside from our favorite books, and many new favorites to discover, we’re welcomed by a menagerie of literary stuffed animals, activity kits, and an awesome aquarium. 

There are Favorites (staff picks) in both the adult and children stacks.  I really like when a staff pick tells me WHY it’s a favorite, rather than a simple thumbs-up; Willow Books obliges with enthusiastic write-ups.

I haven’t yet attended an evening event at Willow Books, but they do have a nice schedule of both children and adult author visits.  I enjoy reading about new releases in their weekly newsletter; you can subscribe here.  The website has some nice interior shots, too (clearly I was torn between snapping pics of the books and my cute little wizard!)

Perhaps the Willow Books tagline can say it better than I can: Willow Books: Where Friendly Service Is Not A Lost Art.

Who’s coming to the Boston area to take a bookstore tour with me?  Here’s another stop on our itinerary!

11 comments to Spotlight on Bookstores: Willow Books in Acton, Mass.

  • I would LOVE to come to Boston and take a book tour with you! I am embarrassed to say that I lived in Connecticut for nearly 20 years and I never visited Boston. Isn’t that pathetic?

    Of course I would want to visit some of those wonderful historical sights, but a book tour of the area would be tops on my list!

  • You guys certainly have alot of amazing bookstores up there. I’m jealous! This one seems so comfortable and airy and open. I was tickled by looking at the favorites shelf…I see a few I recognize! And I love your son’s wizard hat! They are so sweet at that age, and not the least bit worried about what other people might think!

  • *Sigh* I miss my bookstore. But I enjoyed reading about yours, and loved the pictures.

  • This looks like a great store down. Your son looks happy there :0

  • Aww your guy is so cute! Awesome attempt at amazing alteration. Wish we had such a great (or any) independent bookstore here.

  • I can see why your son enjoys storytime there – the storyteller looks so animated. I love the picture of your son in his hat!

  • This place sounds wonderful…wish it was in my neighborhood!

  • Hi – I recently added your blog to my reader and was so surprised to see Willow Books as that’s in the next town from me! :) Let me know if you ever want to check out bookstores together! I always loved the Concord Bookstore (I lived in Carlisle before) and I love the Tatnuck store in Westborough. My favorite on the Cape is Eight Cousins in Falmouth (but then I’m an Alcott fanatic, which drew me to your blog first — Louisa’s quote). -Beth :) (Beth’s Book-Nook Blog)

  • Molly – did I know you were in CT? We lived there for 7 yrs before moving here (yes, lots of great bookstores in the area … come visit!)

    Sandy – the photos are from early in the fall, so those favorites have been switched around by now.

    Kool-Aid Mom – I remember you talking about your local WaldenBooks :(

    Diane – happy as a wizard!

    Beth F – thanks for playing the alliteration game with me (I can’t top that!)

    Kathy – her name is Bonnie (Bonnie Something … I can’t find her card), and she does a lot of local events.

    Kathleen – I don’t go here as often as to the store right in town, but I love all the open space (and the cafe!)

    Beth – thanks for stopping by! Maybe we’ll meet up at a bookstore reading some time.

  • I love his hat!

    Boston is one place (of many) I’ve never visited. Someday I’ll have to fix that..because it’s just rude to avoid all the wonderful bookstores on the east coast. :-D

  • Ah the bookstores of Boston! How I miss them. I would love to take a tour with you and anyone else the next time I’m up for a visit…though not likely for some time after the trip to NYC, though I am planning to make time to see the NYC’s famous The Strand!

    I love bookstores that offer staff recommendations with reasons why!

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