Western Massachusetts has many blessings to be grateful about. We have wonderful seasonal changes, scenic country roads and urban cultural centers. It isn't all bubblegum and lollipops all the time though. We have our share of blizzards, political intrigue and social crisis. However, there is one lovely oasis called The Odyssey Bookshop. This place is a local cultural icon and a wonderful place to visit.
Nestled in the Village Commons of the bustling suburb of South Hadley the eldest of the Seven Sisters colleges Mt. Holyoke with its inviting garden of a campus sits across the green. A theater, small shops and restaurants of the commons dot the surroundings. From morning to night students, shoppers and idling travelers walk along the road and pathways. I've been here on many occasions and can personally vouch for what I have described. It is a destination where one could easily spend a memorable day.
To truly understand this bookstore one really must understand its symbiotic relationship with Mount Holyoke college. Back in the 60's what originally was a pharmacy which was a popular meeting point for students of the college eventually morphed into what would become The Odyssey Bookshop. The original owner Romeo Grenier decided to sell a selection of Penguin title books. This decision truly took off and five years later the college approached him to become a full-time bookseller. He took a courageous step and agreed and the rest was history. Like any 50 plus year old business it had its ups and downs. Two attempts by an arsonist to burn the place down. A relocation. This place lived up to its name.
The store itself is beautifully stocked with an impressive array of titles. They have both used and new books. Inside are two-levels to browse and enjoy to your heart's content. Not only do they sell books, but they have an impressive spread of art supplies and local flavor. They are hip with the times and E-tail their wares online.What I really love about this place is the feel you get when you walk in. It is an independent, family run bookstore. It is a place run by bibliophiles for bibliophiles. They run book signings. Authors come in and read. They really have every aspect tailored well.
And so a couple of days ago on a 90+ degree day. I took a spin down. I drove the route I knew quite well. I had been wanting to blog on some local booksellers and said to myself now is a great time to do it. I walked along the brick pathways. Thought on what I could add to my growing collection of history books. I strolled into the air-conditioned sanctuary. Inside I indulged my joy of running my finger along the spines and reading the titles. I may have even sniffed a tome or two. It was good for the soul.
In the end I added two to my personal library. Afterward I dined at one of the local eateries and perused my new bought books. As I will be making more of these visits I will most certainly let you know the decadent fun I have.
|Enjoy a novel on the patio.|