In this changing media landscape, where big city newspapers are quickly becoming a thing of the past and we seem to be moving in a digital direction, there is something completely indulgent about unplugging and nestling in with a good book. A quick look at the New York Times Best-Seller list is a good foundation if looking for gift suggestions or a good read yourself, but here in Newport and Bristol Counties, we’re lucky to have a few extraordinary mom and pop bookshops (in addition to national retailers) with well-read staffs eager to share undiscovered gems, fresh off the presses titles, works by local authors and the best fit for anyone on your gift list.
Ask any saltwater enthusiast in town where they find inspiration for their next jaunt and they’ll point you to The Armchair Sailor Books & Charts on lower Thames Street. Peppered with plotting tools, navigation instruments, barometers, binoculars, and even a complete inventory of worldwide flags for any port you decide to visit, there’s a well-rounded mix throughout the stacks. Their last day of business for the year is Christmas Eve, not to re-open until the end of March (we suspect it’s when they take to the sea).
Island Books is a locally-owned independent bookstore serving Newport County since 1993 in Middletown’s Wyatt Square. With titles appealing to historians, politicos, gardeners, shutterbugs, cooks and kids, there’s a little something for everyone. Tell owner Judy Crosby a bit about the person you’re shopping for and she can likely point you to a sampling of titles they would be thrilled to unwrap.
Bargainistas should head to D. Kelly Fine Books on Broadway, where used books, many in tip-top shape, line the shelves. There’s also rock-bottom prices on previously enjoyed books on the bottom floor of the Newport Public Library. You may be able to find a pristine Harry Potter or hardcover finds from Dan Brown, Sue Grafton, Tom Clancy and best-known authors for about the same price as a cup of coffee.
Armchair Sailor, 543 Thames Street, Newport, (401) 847-4252
Island Books, 575 E. Main Road in Wyatt Square, Middletown, (401) 849-2665
D. Kelly Fine Used Books, 330 Broadway Newport, (401) 846-4140
Newport Public Library, 300 Spring Street, Newport, (401) 847-8720