Store: Ebenezer Books
Location: Johnson, VT
Recommendation: The Round House by Louise Erdrich
Before visiting Ebenezer Books, I knew Johnson Vermont for just one thing: wool.
The town is home of Johnson Woolen Mills, makers of those iconic checkered hunting coats. The coats I can’t see without thinking of my grandfather and other old Vermonters.
Of course I know there’s a college there too. And Vermont Studio Center, an artist and writer residency program.
But I still just thought of wool.
Ebenezer Books is located on Main Street right next to a buffalo wing place that looked kind of funky (in a good way), but I didn’t try.
While I didn’t see any evidence that the Woolen Mills helped the store’s business, it was immediately apparent that the Studio Center does.
The shop features a lot of works by Studio Center alum and visiting writers as well as a significant writing instruction section.
In fact, there were more books on writing than I’ve seen at almost all the other bookstores combined.
The store is small and, beyond the aforementioned sections, eclectic. There was a lot of poetry, a case of used books and a bank vault, although if I’m remembering correctly there were no books in the old vault.
Maybe I should suggest they put the religion books in there like the store in Lyndonville.
The kids section was its own room, but a few displays overflowed into the rest of the store. Along with picture books and young adult novels it featured some toys, but not so many that the shop felt like a toy store instead of a bookstore.
Rita was the bookseller on duty and, while very nice and interested, she seemed particularly hesitant to recommend a book. She repeatedly said that she wished the owner was there to help me.
For the first time, a book I had already purchased was suggested. In fact, the first three books Rita suggested had already been recommended and purchased.
We had better luck when she stopped suggesting the store owner’s favorite books and tried one she enjoyed herself.
I’ve already read her suggestion, The Round House by Louise Erdrich and greatly enjoyed it. It’s the story of a crime against a women living on a reservation in North Dakota told by her teenage son.
In the middle of reading The Round House I had to put it down to read a library book that had just become available.
I hate interrupting a book and hate reading two books at once even more. But I was able to stop, read the other book and return to The Round House without missing a beat.
I was still interested in the story and remembered enough detail that I didn’t have to reread. (And I usually forget a book’s details very quickly.)
Ebenezer is a nice little store. While I wished the Rita had more faith in her recommendations, she was exceedingly pleasant and gave us a restaurant recommendation (not the wing place next door, which is why I didn’t get my buffalo fix that day.)
I don’t often have occasion to travel to Johnson, but the next time I do I’ll be sure to revisit Ebenezer Books!