Welcome to The Marauders a monthly feature hosted by three bookish friends: Scales aka Elizabeth from BookYABBER, Pooka aka Marci at The Plot Bunny and Embers aka Nicole from Nicole’s Novel Reads. We seek to share with you, our unique outings, bookish exploits, and favorite haunts. Together we aspire to always live by our motto: “Mischief Managed”.
This month on The Marauders we decided to stay local and celebrate the birthday of one of the most bookish people we know – our friend Rachel. Rachel is an avid reader, a writer of books and currently head over heels in summer classes for her grad degree . I was lucky enough to have the pleasure of meeting her while at ALAMW (Nicole and Elizabeth already knew her) and I am so happy that I did. Rachel is the type of person that you meet and instantly already like. She is friendly, outgoing and pretty much should run for President because she can befriend just about anyone. Her knowledge of books is amazing and I have never met anyone that can read as fast as she does (and retains the knowledge). Walking into a bookstore is dangerous when accompanied by Rachel. She will have at least 30 recommendations ready to go, she will read passages from favorite books to you in order to convince you to buy it, and literally put book after book into your basket and tell you that “YOU MUST BUY/READ IT!” Publishers should really consider giving this girl a book deal and some type of marketing job because she is a PRO.
Elizabeth, Nicole and I wanted to get together with Rachel for a belated birthday celebration and so we met up in Cambridge for brunch at PARK restaurant and bar. PARK is a personal favorite haunt of mine. It’s an interesting place, located under a garage, and you feel like you are deep in someone’s wine cellar. The decor is a mix of woods, comfy arms chairs, leather banquettes, and cozy nooks. Towards the back is an area with a faux bookcase and smaller tables and couch-like seating. The bar is centered in the room and goes almost a full 360 all the way around and their cocktails are known to be some of the yummiest drinks you will ever have. My personal favorite is called Lavender Moon, and last time we visited I made sure that both Elizabeth and Nicole tried it too. This time around only Nicole and I ordered them, and Elizabeth and Rachel decided to stick to tea. Their menu is fairly simple but filling and delicious. I ordered the Park Patty melt which was scrumptious, especially the shoestring fries. Elizabeth had crispy french toast while Nicole and Rachel both decided to go with the brisket. Of course, brunch conversation was dominated by chatter about books, thoughts on BEA (even though none of us attended this year…we still all followed the tag and pretended we were there) and upcoming book events. Once our tummies were full, we decided to head to the heart of Harvard Square and visit our first bookstore, Curious George.
The Curious George bookstore is located right at the center of Harvard Square. It originally opened in 1995 but unfortunately fell on hard times around 2011. Thankfully the store wasn’t destined to disappear and new owners have taken over “the only Curious George store in the world” and have given it new life on April 28th, 2012 (all in attendance at the opening ceremony were given a free banana). Having known the “old” store, the new store was a bit of a change for me. I liked that the old store was jam-packed to the point that you could barely walk around, and I also liked that they kept the basement level for slightly older children. The new store is bright and colorful. It is slightly easier to walk around in and they have organized things nicely. There is an array of stuffed animals, games and books ranging from newborns to some YA. I love the murals on the walls and the little reading areas by the window perfectly sized for wee little ones. Clearly this is no longer just a bookstore, but also a tourist destination as it was packed with people wanting their little piece of the Curious George story to take home with them.
Not really finding anything to buy this time around, we walked over to the Harvard Book Store (I recently just did a whole feature on them for my Independent bookstore day….you can read it here). The great thing about The Harvard Book Store is that it has both new and old books for sale. The new volumes are located on the main floor, and if you had down to the basement you will find a large room filled with books. If you have the time and patience you can find some really great bargains down here. Besides books, the store also has a large selection of bookmarks, pens, journals and a few other bookish items. Their Children’s/Middle Grade/YA area is tiny (though every inch of it is stuffed with books). I especially love the area with their “gift” or “special” volumes….here you will find classics such as Alice in Wonderland, Anne of Green Gables, or Jane Austen’s books all with beautiful and ornate covers. It was near this area that Nicole pointed out this tiny box and inside were two Peter Rabbit finger puppets….obviously, I had to buy them…my bunny obsession is quite out of hand.
After the Harvard Book Store we wandered over to The Harvard Coop bookstore. It looks and feels very similar to a Barnes and Noble, but they always deny any association. They have a rather large children’s area and a wide selection of YA. Rachel had fun here picking up and posing with all her latest favorites, even her shirt was bookish and makes a perfect point about the trouble with favorite characters dying. The quote on her shirt said “ Eat, Read and Be Merry for tomorrow your favorite characters could be dead”. I feel this way every time I open a George R.R. Martin book, but it applies to so many others…::looks over at The Fault in Our Stars and The Book Thief on my bookshelf and tears up::
After we were through exploring all YA section of the Harvard Coop, we decided it was finally time for cupcakes after all this is suppose to be a birthday celebration. Just around the corner from The Curious George store is a quaint little cupcake shop called Sweet. Here you can find an array of tasty treats, from beautiful cupcakes, colorful full-size cakes, and delicious cookies. We all ordered different cupcakes and sat down to chat and relax from all the walking around we did from bookstore to bookstore. This was the perfect ending to yet another bookish day spent in the company of friends and also a great way to celebrate Rachel’s birthday.
Happy Birthday Rachel!