Massachusetts Daily Collegian

‘Books you don’t need in a place you can’t find’

By Elise Martorano

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Nestled deep in the Pioneer Valley is the Montague Bookmill, a gem for anyone wishing to experience what western Mass. is all about.

Originally built in 1832, the mill was a source for local families to acquire grain. In 1987, the mill began its conversion into a used bookstore. Today, it is filled from floor to ceiling with books, and also sports an organic café, record store and art studio.

And only a 20-minute drive from the University of Massachusetts campus, it’s a great location to scope out before you leave Amherst.

 

The books

The Bookmill is home to thousands of used books. Marked down to half-price or less, they range in topic from photography to literature to astrology to gender studies. Any bibliophile can find something that suits their interests for a price that’s easy on their wallet. Overlooking a babbling brook, the mill’s hardwood floors creak underfoot as one finds the perfect reading spot throughout its many rooms. Perusing the shelves, you’ll find yourself immersed in an atmosphere of intellect and curiosity.

 

The food

The Bookmill is home to the Lady Killigrew Cafe, a small restaurant that sports the tagline: “Food that is intrinsically delicious.” The products used to prepare meals are almost always local, and patrons can peruse an extensive wine and beer list. Some great dishes include a warm brown rice salad; a grilled sandwich with brie, apricot jam and apples; and toasted bagels with scrambled eggs, cheddar cheese and tomatoes.

 

The music

In a tiny extension of the Bookmill resides Turn It Up!, a branch of the New England chain where music connoisseurs can peruse rare vinyls, hundreds of CDs and even a few cassette tapes.  The sales associates are laid back and always willing to talk music.

 

The art

The Montague Bookmill is home to Sawmill River Arts, an artists’ collective where craftspeople can display and sell their creations. The gallery is home to jewelry, scarves, paintings, sculptures and everything in between. While most of the pieces are quite pricey, they are all professionally made and worth the cost to anyone looking to spruce up their home (and has a little money to spare).

 

The nature

Of course, the Montague Bookmill straddles the stunning Sawmill River. Several small walking paths can take explorers to the bank, where they can dip their feet into the rushing current and observe the activity at the mill. The environment is lush and makes the location cozy and intimate.

If you are looking for a location that perfectly represents the heart of the Pioneer Valley, look no further than the Montague Bookmill. From the newspapers, art and lines of poetry plastered on the bathroom walls; to the philosophical conversations you can hear in passing; to the unbeatable prices of lovingly used books and music; to the environment of local pride and beneficence, the Bookmill is the perfect place to spend a relaxing, enlightening day.

 

Elise Martorano can be reached at [email protected].

 

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