Translate

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Books You Don't Need From a Place You Can't Find

Our Massachusetts trip really was a break in the action after our Michigan winter. In addition to looking forward to spending time with Rick's brother and his wife, we also anticipated the trade show and that great relief after when you know it has gone well. Even though there was still a lot of snow and ice, in our hearts it felt like spring was just a few days away (which it actually was!).


While returning back to Randy and Elaine's home base in Pittsfield after the trade show, we took the scenic route. It wasn't quite a scenic as it might normally be -- it was a cold, constant rain. But our destination was warm and cozy and well worth the extra miles. We were visiting the Montague Bookmill in Montague, MA.


And how do you get there, you might ask. Well, when the shop's motto is "Books you don't need from a place you can't find," you might expect a few twists and turns on the road -- and we found them. When I told my friend Kate about it she said, "So, if you get to Montague, you're good, right?" Not so fast! There are a lots of ways you can go to possibly get there -- but most of them are wrong! Let's just say we were happy to see the Montague Mill complex!


All worries were over when we walked into the shop. This is my dream place -- a historical building filled with very well organized books and cards. All the books are used, or at least all I saw -- but all in excellent condition. We saw several families cuddled on sofas reading to their children, people working on their laptops and lots of people settled in to read.


The mill itself was a gristmill built on the banks of the Sawmill River in 1832. If you're in the Northhamptom/Amherst region you are within striking distance! The building served as a mill and home for a machine company until the 1980s when it was turned into a bookstore. After several owners, current owner, Susan Shilliday, brought the bookstore in 2007.


Susan's story is an interesting one. Rick and I know her brother Barkley and Rick had met Susan on a previous trip East. She had been a successful screenwriter, writing the popular series "thirtysomething," the films "Legends of the Fall" and "I Dreamed of Africa" and for TV, adapting Madeleine Engel's "A Wrinkle in Time." Raised in the South, she had lived in Los Angeles for many years as she built her writing career. But when her daughters graduated from high school, they went to college in Massachusetts. Sometime after their college graduation, Susan decided she was ready to quit the L.A. scene and head East, purchasing the Bookmill.


From the looks of it, it was a wise decision. On this rainy day, one that you wonder would make anyone go out who didn't have to, the shop was crowded and everyone was enjoying themselves. I found a used copy of my current book club selection in fiction, along with one of Peter Mayle's books set in Provence. Rick bought a collection of Alice Munro short stories and a book of recipes for camping. We weren't the only ones in line, either. And I confess, with an unlimited budget, I would have been happy with the art selection, cookbooks, biographies and volumes on theatre and film. Who wouldn't?!


Even the bathroom was fun!


And who could resist the vintage typewriters! That was definitely a blast from the past!


As we left the Bookmill, we stopped into another shop, Sawmill Art Gallery, which featured work by regional artists. I found a couple of treasures there, too, of course! And then it was back to a laid back evening in Pittsfield.


Not bad for a cold, rainy, wet day! And even the rain stopped by the time we hit the road -- now, who could argue with that!

24 comments:

must love junk said...

Jeanie, that looks like my kind of place! Cozy, gorgeous scenery, and most importantly lots of books!! Susan's story is so interesting! I really enjoyed this post :)
Susan

Joanne Huffman said...

What a fun place! I didn't know you were in Pittsfield; we lived in Great Barrington for 2 years many years ago. I love that whole part of Massachusetts.

Lisa from Lisa's Yarns said...

What a neat little area to check out! That book store sounds fantastic. And what an interesting life the owner has had! I love checking out little independent bookstores like that. If I am going to buy a book, that is where it's going to happen!

annieelf2012 said...

Wow. This is my kind of place (which, of course, you surely knew). Anyway. What an interesting story the shop owner has. This is what come's from following the breadcrumbs and achieving your dreams. Now I'm going to have to go to MA and find this place.

Mae Travels said...

That bookstore looks too good to be true... wonder if it actually makes enough money to be a thriving business or if the owner is well-off enough to keep it going without a lot of profit. Nosy of me to wonder, but there's so much discussion of bookstore economics it's just irresistible to speculate! Someone once said that owning a bookstore is a hobby that sometimes makes money. I'll have to find the exact quote!

Shelia said...

Hi Jeanne! Oh, what a neat sounding place and the curious name! :) Looks pretty cool too and I'm glad you found it. Thanks for popping in and I hope you've had a good weekend.
Be a sweetie,
Shelia ;)

Betsy@My Salvaged Treasures said...

What a fun out-of-the-way place to visit. I love the typewriters!

Roses, Lace and Brocante said...

I would love to visit that beautiful book shop Jeanie - what a lovely old building! Love your photos and the chairs and tables, there are never enough easy chairs in bookshops here.
We have a great second hand book store near where I live called 'Hard to Find'...but worth the effort book shop!
Sounds similar to your shop.
Loved your selection, I've got Peter Mayle's A Year In Provence and Alice Munro's the Love of a Good Woman - I love her writing.
Susan sounds like the perfect bookshop owner!
Oh my goodness that river of ice in your first photo - Jeanie how brave of you and Rick to travel in those conditions!
Shane x

vicki (skiourophile) said...

What a wonderful bookshop - really good, loved bookshops are getting harder and harder to find, so it's lovely to see someone put so much love into one.

Ruth said...

Exactly where I'd ! want to be on a cold rainy day! What a fabulous place, just heavenly. Bless her.

Janet said...

My kind of place! I could spend hours there and probably would if I lived in the area. I love a good used book store.

The French Hutch said...

I would get out on a cold wet day to go here! The owner sure has enjoyed a successful screenwriting career, such wonderful films and series. I certainly enjoyed all the photos. Glad you had a great getaway!

Victoria Zigler said...

Sounds like a book lover's heaven!

psychelyn said...

Like in your previous post, I really like the frozen falls on the first picture.

The Book Mill, I think it's one place I'd be happy to be locked in.

Vintage typewriters remind me of my grandpa. He had it and I used to watch him type :)

Kitty said...

What luck to find this store. I am always amazed at the things hidden away in MA. I need to get back there and do some more exploring. Glad you had a good time with Randy and Elaine. I could brag that I think all my boys and their families are so very special.

Castles Crowns and Cottages said...

WOW! What an interesting career this woman has had! She had her "fun" and it can't get any better than being a screen writer...or can it? I suppose so, as one retires to the country and finds oneself in such a CHARMING community and bookstore!
HI JEANIE! Love you photos! Anita

Mary said...

Ooooo! I would have LOVED that bookstore. Worth finding it! :) The scenery looks gorgeous, though very cold! Brrrrr!

Retired English Teacher said...

Now that is my kind of place! I would love to visit this unique and interesting bookstore. I love bookstores anyway. I hope her success with this is good. The owner really does have interesting professional life.

What does Rick think of Alice Munro? I read her latest, the first I'd ever read. I found her too dark for me. Have you read her?

Tammie Lee said...

looks like similar weather for you and me. that book mill looks like a wonderful place to visit or hang out. like a homey library.

Marilyn said...

This is definitely a book shop I could get lost in and spend money. Oh such a weakness, BOOKS.

shoreacres said...

I really like the typewriters. I found out some time ago how to turn the font on my blog into old-style Elite type. I should do that some day.

The bookstore's wonderul, as is the comment about a bookstore being a hobby that sometimes makes money. There's an old (in every sense) independent bookstore down the street from me. I ought to go pay it a visit. Much closer than Massachusetts!

The Artful Diva said...

the book mill looks like a worthwhile stop indeed - love those typewriters too!

Jenny Woolf said...

Oh Jeanie, what a find! I would simply love to go there, too! I am impressed by the owner's strength of mind, quitting the lucrative and glitzy world of successful screenwriting in order to do what she really wanted.
That's a nice photo of you too, and I like how your coat is almost picking up the colour of the mill. Enough to warm up the coldest day.. those frozen streams of water.. wow...

Relyn Lawson said...

How wonderful! I really, really want to shop there!

Popular Posts