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Spotlight on Bookstores: *Toad Hall Bookstore* in Rockport, Mass.

Today’s Spotlight on Bookstores post is written by Laura Harrington, author of Alice Bliss (forthcoming from Pamela Dorman Books/Viking, June 2, 2011). I’m really looking forward to reading Alice Bliss, and will share a Tuesday Teaser as we get closer to publication date.  In the meantime, here’s a snippet from the publisher’s synopsis:

… a coming-of-age novel about love and its many variations–the support of a small town looking after its own; love between an absent father and his daughter; the complicated love between an adolescent girl and her mother; and an exploration of new love with the boy-next-door. These characters’ struggles amidst uncertain times echo our own, lending the novel an immediacy and poignancy that is both relevant and real. At once universal and very personal, Alice Bliss is a transforming story about those who are left at home during wartime, and a teenage girl bravely facing the future.

Beth Hoffman, author of the New York Times best-seller Saving CeeCee Honeycutt, says: “Heartbreaking yet edged with promise, Alice Bliss explores the wounds of war, love, and family bonds while illuminating the strength of a young girl’s spirit. A stunning debut.”

I know it’s got my attention – the novel is based on Ms. Harrington’s one-woman musical, Alice Unwrapped. The author is an award-winning playwright, lyricist, and librettist, who teaches playwriting at MIT.

Laura Harrington is also a supporter of Toad Hall Bookstore, a lovely independent bookshop with a selfless mission.  This Spotlight is especially timely, as we just commemorated the 41st anniversary of the first Earth Day.  I plan to visit Toad Hall the next time I’m on the north shore (yes, it’s within driving distance of me, hooray!)

Toad Hall Bookstore in Rockport Mass is housed in a gorgeous granite building on Main Street. With the ocean just behind the bookstore and views to T.S. Eliot’s Dry Salvages, Toad Hall is in a stunning location. You can watch sailboats, kayaks, rowboats, and children swimming and beachcombing.

Toad Hall is just steps from the new Shalin Liu Performance Center. So, if you happen to come to the acclaimed Rockport Chamber Music Festival, come early and discover a wonderful independent bookstore.

In addition to being a bookstore Toad Hall is also a nonprofit organization dedicated to propagating environmentally conscious living. All net proceeds go to environmental projects and education. Toad Hall bills itself as “A Literary Community with Environmental Concern.”

Amy Pierson is the dedicated bookseller who specializes in hand selling books, creating community around environmental issues, and supporting local authors. In spite of its small size, Toad Hall has a wonderful selection of fiction, and showcases many local authors. Their cooking and gardening sections are top notch, and they have a remarkable selection of books about the environment, including the now seminal book about oceans: Smithsonian Ocean: Our Water, Our World, by local author Deborah Cramer.

A spiral staircase takes you downstairs to a cozy, carpeted room lined with books for children. It’s only fitting that a bookstore called Toad Hall would have a wonderful selection of children’s literature. Even though my daughter is now grown, I love to browse this section of the store.

Toad Hall has always given 100% of its profits to environmental projects. Founded in 1972 as the direct result of Earth Day, the bookstore has donated over $133,000, mostly in the form of small “seed money” grants. In many cases projects would not have moved forward without Toad Hall’s support.

Thanks so much for introducing us to Toad Hall, Laura!  They definitely deserve a shout-out for the services they provide to the community, both as a full-service independent bookstore and for all their efforts toward educating people about environmental issues.

Readers, you can learn more about Laura Harrington and Alice Bliss at her website Laura Harrington Books, follow her on twitter (@bookalike), and follow her author fan page on Facebook.

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