Store: Woodknot Bookshop
Location: Newport, VT
Recommendation: Affinity by Sarah Waters
Woodknot Bookshop has a lot atmosphere.
From the coffee shop / bakery and the great music playing over the speakers to children’s castle in the back corner and the collection of locally made purses and gifts, this bookstore is has much to offer beyond literature.
When we arrived on a Saturday afternoon, the store was deserted other than the owner and another woman chatting at one of the tales in the café.
Later they were joined by two more ladies and I learned a great deal about Newport’s local politics by unintentionally eavesdropping on their conversation.
I also discovered that one of area restaurants has a new waiter who isn’t very good at his job. (I hear he takes people’s plates away before they are finished eating.)
Woodknot has all the sections you find at most bookstores, but they are all rather small. The fiction, located along the outside wall, is the largest but like the store in Saint Johnsbury, there is only one of each title and sometimes only one of each author.
I checked on a couple of my favorite authors just to determine the selection and was surprised to see only a single book by Ian McEwan. And it wasn’t his latest, although in all fairness Sweet Tooth may have been located in the new releases section because it just came out in paperback.
The store has made the strange merchandising choice to face out every other book. Not just on the fiction wall, but throughout the entire store.
I don’t think I would have noticed except that I couldn’t find a single break in the pattern. And once I became aware of the system, I couldn’t escape it.
It reminded me of when I was working at a cheap shoe store in high school. I pulled the Fourth of July shift and it was so slow that I rearranged the women’s shoes so they were all red, white, blue, red, white, blue. Over and over around the store.
I think the pattern at Woodknot wasn’t created out of boredom, though.
When there was a pause in the conversation, I approached the counter and told the women about this adventure.
It’s funny how many booksellers hesitate when asked for a recommendation. Many ask what type of books I like or want me to name some of my favorite authors before making a suggestion.
I’ve come to value this pause. I love that the booksellers take the time to consider and question before recommending a book that I might hate.
In this case, Megan (the store’s owner) was very thoughtful before recommending two books: a mystery by Bruce Alexander and Affinity by Sarah Waters.
She said that she enjoyed both books and when I pressed back for her to narrow it down to one novel (I usually ask, “If you had to pick just one, which one would you choose?”) she selected Affinity.
She said it reminded her a little bit of The Alienist, a book I really enjoyed.
When I was ready to leave, Megan was on the phone and the woman who was sitting at the table when I came in jumped up to take my money.
I’m still not sure if she worked at the store and was on break or had the day off or if she was a customer who spends so much time there that she learned how to run the register.
Woodknot is a cute bookshop. The kid’s castle is really cool and the baked goods looked yummy. While the selection might have been a little spare, there is a wide variety of books both fiction and nonfiction.
It did worry me that the aisles were empty of customers and the only people in the store were there to chat instead of shop.
Hopefully I just happened to stop by during a slow period and normally the store is filled with readers and shoppers galore!