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If you know me, you probably know what my one vice is. Books. (Not as exciting as you were expecting?) But, seriously, it’s true. You would think that my overflowing bookshelves would be a sign that I should stop buying and start reading, but that’s not how it works in my brain. Overflow means I need a new bookcase, not less books. Knowing this, you can now easily imagine why Hobart NY, also known as ‘The Book Village of the Catskills’, was high on my list of places to see.
About an hour outside of Albany, and two hours from the most Western part of Massachusetts, Hobart is an unassuming place with little signage from the highway. You’ll snake through the mountains and some small towns and then, suddenly, you pass by its medium-sized blue sign into downtown. And the books will be waiting for you. Here are a few tips to get the most of our your book themed holiday.
Don’t get there too early (At least in the Winter)
As we drove through downtown a little after 10 am, I felt my heart sink. Seemingly every storefront looked dark. Finally we saw the blue ‘Open’ flag hanging outside Liberty Rock Books and decided to start there and hope that the others would open as the day went on. Thankfully, the rest of the stores started stirring and, by 11 am, most were open. We happened to pick a weekend when one of the shops was closed for an extended holiday, but the booksellers have keys to each other’s stores and multiple people offered to open it up and let us browse. (Note that this was our experience in the winter and I would assume that the summer may run on slightly earlier hours.)
Get a Passport
Although it certainly won’t get you on an international flight, a Hobart passport will get you $5 off a book of your choice. You’ll have to visit all 5 downtown stores for a stamp, but you were going to do that anyway. Besides your coupon, you also will have a fun souvenir.
Take a Break
Even with how much I love books, it started to become overwhelming after a few hours of staring down book spines. I highly recommend doing two or three stores and then taking a break. Grab lunch or a cup of coffee at one of the local establishments. If its summer, then take a walk down to the river. Anything to get your mind off of books so you can go back to the other stores refreshed and ready to browse.
Libby is the official feline greeter at Liberty Rocks Books and she is sweetest. She’ll follow you around the store offering a chorus of meows and suggestions on your book choices and plop down on the mat to try to keep you from leaving. If you’re lucky, she may even share her favorite couch with you when its bathed in mid-morning sunlight.
While winter is certainly not the most popular time to go to Hobart, I couldn’t help but enjoy having the bookstores mostly to myself. I didn’t have to crane my neck around other customers or slide through tight aisles barely made for two people. If you’re coming at a busier time, also keep that in mind that parking seems pretty limited.
However, regardless of when you want to visit, The Hobart Book Village website is full of more information and a schedule of events, so no matter what, you’ll be able to get your fill of books.