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Best Local Places to Find a Good Book
March is National Reading Month. But, of course, you knew that. You like to read books. Otherwise, you wouldn’t have opened this article about where to find good books. So, where do you find them? We have a few ideas, whether you want to borrow or keep.
You can’t beat your local library. Easiest choice is right on campus: Syracuse University Libraries, most notably the massive E.S Bird Library. With your SU I.D. card, you have both access and the power to borrow. The Libraries has about four million(!) titles and a sizable, helpful staff (there’s even a website option to live chat with a library staff member). In addition to being a nexus of information and a popular study space, Bird has its own café and hosts a number of lectures, public exhibitions and special events.
Off campus, the Onondaga County Public Libraries system has 31 branch libraries across the county in addition to the Central Library (447 S. Salina St., Syracuse), where you can take out books, eBooks, audiobooks and more. And a library card is free.
Another great place to borrow (or to donate a book): one of the dozens of community Little Free Library locations throughout the region. These are awesome! Walk up, look, take. And you can help restock by leaving a book of your own. There’s a helpful finder for area Little Free Library locations. Search by zip code or community name or just click the “Near Me” radio button.
There’s no place closer to shop than the Syracuse University Bookstore in the Schine Student Center. Along with text books, art supplies, computers, cosmetics and all things Orange, the Bookstore carries a substantial quantity of books from new bestsellers to works by faculty authors. Hours are Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The Rescue Mission Alliance has Thrifty Shopper store locations throughout the region. They’re great places to find used books and give back in a meaningful way through your purchases. Same goes for the Salvation Army’s Family Stores. And don’t forget, you can also donate your own used books for others to enjoy.
The big dog in the book-buying biz is, of course, Barnes & Noble. If you’re looking for new bestsellers at a sweet discount, you can’t beat a visit to a B&N location in DeWitt (3454 Erie Boulevard East), Clay (3956 Rt. 31, Liverpool), Ithaca (614 S. Meadow St.), Vestal (2443 Vestal Parkway East) or New Hartford (4811 Commercial Dr.). Or shop B&N online; with a $25 B&N membership, you get member discounts and free mailing.
If you’re looking for older, rarer or harder-to-find tomes—or you just like the feel of a traditional bookstore, visit a local independent bookstore.
Syracuse’s two signature used bookstores are practically across the street from each other in the Eastwood neighborhood. Which makes it easy to go to one, load up, and then walk to the other and load up some more.
Books & Melodies Bookstore (2600 James St., Syracuse) is open Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. They have no website, but there is a Facebook page. This is a very large bookstore (plan to spend some time here) billed as “CNY’s largest entertainment/intellectual exchange.”
Five large rooms are filled with thousands of used hardcovers and paperbacks, plus magazines, comics, graphic novels, old games, vinyl records, CD, DVDs and hard-to-find VHS tapes.
A massive basement has more, filled with $2 specials on more vinyl, additional books, sheet music, CDs and cassettes. Did we mention you’ll want to spend some time here?
Within a book’s throw (note: we’re not condoning book tossing) is the city’s other premier bookstore, Books End Bookshop (2443 James St., Syracuse). It’s open Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sunday, 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Books End has a website and is also on Facebook and Instagram.
In square footage, it’s not as big as its neighbor, but Books End still offers a large selection of newer and older books (more than 70,000) covering every literary genre. It’s Syracuse’s oldest used bookstore and specializes in rare, vintage and out-of-print books. There’s a large selection of fiction and nonfiction books available for purchase in person or online.
Also of note, Books End offers a Frequent Reader Card. For every $10 spent, you receive a stamp. Collect 10 stamps, and you’ll get $10 off your next purchase.
In addition to selling, Books End buys books.
Further down the street from these two bastions of bookdom is another store, albeit a more specialized one: Sacred Melody (3501 James St.), “a third-generation family business that offers inspirational gifts and books that help people express their faith.” Hours are Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Sacred Melody offers spirituals; bibles; devotionals; books on prayer and love and marriage; books for adults, teens and children; and much more.
Another local bookstore, Golden Bee Bookshop, is in Liverpool (305 Vine St.). Hours are Tuesday through Friday, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Hosts a book club, along with other events. Golden Bee is on the web, Facebook and Instagram.
It’s an attractive little store that “carries a thoughtfully curated collection of Fiction books in a whimsical and welcoming setting.” What’s not on hand can be ordered and arrive within 3-4 business days. The store also features candles, bookmarks, mugs art and cards, most of which are produced by local artisans.
Golden Bee hosts a number of special events, including two monthly book clubs—one featuring new fiction, and the other focusing on paperbacks. And the store has a resident cat named Mia. Yes, along with coffee, every bookstore should have a cat.
Here are some other notable choices within a reasonable drive:
Backstreet Books and Bistro
No website. On Facebook.
Address: 201-203 Oneida St., Fulton
Hours: Tuesday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Saturday, 9 a.m. to noon.
Used bookstore offering a wide variety of genres. A program of Oswego Count Opportunities.
Time and Again Books & Tea
No website: On Facebook.
Address: 18 E. Utica St., Oswego
Hours: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, 12:30 to 6 p.m.; Wednesday, 4 to 6 p.m.; Saturday, noon to 4 p.m.
Offers used books, DVDs, CDs and books on CD.
River’s End Bookstore
Website. On Facebook.
Address: 19 W. Bridge St., Oswego
Winter hours: Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Boasts a large selection of new books, plus numerous special events, including author appearances. But in person or online.
Book Barn of the Finger Lakes
Address: 198 North Road/County Route 163, Dryden
Hours: Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.; Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.
Historic farmstead, with three red and green barns containing 2.5 miles of shelving of used, rare and scholarly books.
Autumn Leaves Used Books
Address: 115 E. State St., Ithaca
Hours: Monday through Wednesday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Thursday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Features 60,000 books (including rare and collectibles), a basement with 10,000 records and an in-store café. “Offers the selection and quality of a new bookstore at used book prices.”
Buffalo Street Books
Website. On Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Address: Located in The Dewitt Mall, 215 N. Cayuga St., Ithaca
Hours: Sunday through Wednesday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Thursday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Opened in 1981 as the Bookery II. Reopened in 2011 as a cooperatively owned bookstore. Stocks thousands of titles for both adults and children, as well as literary journals, cards and periodicals. Hosts several book clubs and groups, as well as numerous events.
Popeks Used and Rare Books
Address: 356 Main St., Otego
Hours: Closed for winter, but reopens March 6. Spring/summer/fall hours: Sunday and Monday, Friday and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Tuesday and Wednesday, 9 to 11 a.m.
Berry Hill Bookshop
Address: 2349 NY-12B, Deansboro
Hours: Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The Book Vault Fine Books
Address: 46 Washington Ave, Endicott
Hours: Thursday through Saturday, noon to 6 p.m.
Address: Located at Waterloo Premium Outlets, 655 State Highway 318, Waterloo
Hours: Sunday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.