February “What I’m Into:” Vermont Edition

This month, I’m into…

(The “I went to Vermont” edition.)

One of my favorite indie bookstores in Vermont
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One of my favorite indie bookstores in Vermont

Independent bookstores.

A couple of months back, I wrote a post on why I didn’t used to buy books, but now do. Don’t get me wrong; I still make great use of my local library as well as its digital-download system. But I became more willing to pay for books even when I knew I could get them for free, when I realized that my payment included the book-buying experience. And I’m not talking about Barnes & Noble (although I’m pleased that stalwartian chain is still championing the printed word). I’m talking about independent, local bookstores. The ones that curate their books carefully. The ones with little handwritten tags on the shelves that say “recommended by a staff member.” (I love those tags. I would be good at writing those tags.) The ones with creaky wooden floors and the smell of lemon polish, with glass jars of various literary quote pins by the register.

These bookstores are not always easy to find, but if you love hunting through the towns of New England, as I do, it’s not impossible. Once I find one, I have a rule: I must buy one book. If I want more than one, that’s fine; but the one-book rule gives me the freedom to choose whatever I like, as well the command to support the bookstore in a small way.

And I’m into…

Old Life magazines.

While walking through an antiques market in Queechee, VT, I became inspired by a wall of old Life magazines. (Literally, a wall: the shelves went floor-to-ceiling, with accompanying stacks on the floor.) I got the idea to buy one or two as inspiration for a historical short story collection. There’s so much great content in an old Life magazine. I could be inspired by a feature story, or a full-page ad, or an editorial, or even a recipe. The magazines at the antique mart ran from the mid-1940s to the late 1960s, so I had much history to choose from. I finally selected the one that had been published on my dad’s birthday in 1952. I grabbed another one from the late 1940s just because I liked the cover. I’m already working on my first Life-inspired short story.

And finally, I love…


But not to color with.

As a symbol.

When I was a kid, I had this box of Crayolas that I loved. It was a “limited edition” with the standard 64 box, plus a mini box of 8 “retired” colors. I loved everything about that collection: the old-fashioned tin, the smell of colored wax as I lifted the lid, the array of colors inside. I recently rediscovered this box as I was looking through my craft supplies one day. It has moved with me everywhere I’ve lived, from college to my first two apartments to my current home. That in itself is a rarity; I am not a pack rat, and I tend to get rid of things that aren’t currently useful or hold strong memories. But I never got rid of my crayons. When I found them recently, I decided to take them out, open the lid, and display them on my desk. They’re a symbol, next to my mini faux-typewriter and bouquet of sharpened pencils, of creativity and the writing work I love to do.

What are you into this month?

Do you have a process for buying books?

Do you have something you hold onto only as a symbol? 

4 Responses to “February “What I’m Into:” Vermont Edition”

  1. Kathy says:

    I love your February influences, Leanne. Especially the “buy one book” and the crayons. I might be going to Vermont in April–where is the bookstore you mentioned? I’m supposed to meet a friend, and I’m not sure where we’re going, but I always like to visit used book stores in any town I’m in!

  2. I love indie bookstores, too! Whenever I go to certain towns on Cape Cod, I always visit the local bookstores and try to buy at least one book. (Though it’s usually more than that!) One of my favorites is Where The Sidewalk Ends in Chatham. It’s a refurbished barn and has two floors: the adult / literary / nonfiction books are downstairs, and a Children’s Annex upstairs. It’s just lovely and rustic on the inside, and their staff is so helpful and easy to talk to. Market Street Books in Mashpee is also wonderful. 🙂

    • Leanne Sowul says:

      Makes me wish I lived in Massachusetts! There’s really only one near me: Oblong books in Rhinebeck and Millerton. I love both branches. I have to drive 35+ minutes, but it’s worth it.


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