Brattle Book Shop – Boston, Massachusetts - Atlas Obscura

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Brattle Book Shop

One of the oldest used bookstores in the U.S. has been selling antiquarian treasures since 1825. 


Wedged between red brick buildings and hidden from the hustle and bustle of Downtown Boston is an antiquarian bookshop that has been selling used books since 1825.

Located a couple of steps away from the Boston Common is the family-owned Brattle Book Shop. It offers more than 250,000 books, postcards, maps, and prints spanning across multiple genres and decades. It attracts an eclectic crowd, ranging from JD Salinger to a patron with a penchant for eating Bibles

The first two floors of the store are packed with general used books. Space is limited as its shelves, all stuffed with titles, are crammed close together, making it nearly impossible to navigate the store without bumping into someone. Small step stools are scattered around the space, allowing visitors to reach books on the highest shelves.

The third floor houses collectible and first-edition antiquarian books spanning a range of genres. If you’re lucky, you might find notes and dedications scribbled on pages from decades ago.

Outside the store, sandwiched between two industrial brick buildings, is an open-air sale lot. Racks and bookshelves fill the outdoor space, selling books for as little as $3. Small, compact Russian short stories or thick and heavy Encyclopedias are just some of the treasures that can be found lining the outdoor area. Splashed on one wall is a patchwork mural of famous authors such as Toni Morrison and Italo Calvino who look down on you as you sift through thousands of titles.

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