One of the most weather-resilient (though not water-resistant), entertaining, yet affordable pleasures there is in this life of ours is reading a good book. And there’s no better time to fall back in love with the act of reading than in the bits of leisure time we can carve out of the summer months. And there’s no better place for that forgotten bibliophile in each of us than the Isaiah Thomas Bookstore on Route 28 in Cotuit. As comprehensive as it is quirky, Isaiah Thomas Books is rich in readable treasures, carrying over 70,000 new, used and rare books.
Housed in an old Victorian home, which was built in the later half of the 19th century in the then popular Italianate style, the Isaiah Thomas Bookstore makes Barnes and Noble look even more like the soulless, vanilla-flavored bore that it is. The staff here is helpful and knowledgeable, the vibe is laid back, and the owner’s love of books is infectious. There are a number of quiet reading spots, allowing you to browse through books for hours. And, with all the delicious stacks upon stacks upon stacks of books crying for your attention, searching for your perfect summer read is a wonderful way to spend a chunk of a cloudy afternoon. There is also a great children’s books section – full of classics and contemporary hits.
Jim Visbeck, who opened Isaiah Thomas in 1990, has been in the book trade for decades. He lives on the top floor of his shop and he told me a few intriguing tales about the ghosts who have long inhabited this building. According to Visbeck, these benign spooks have announced their presence by stopping clocks, knocking over picture frames, and other acts of sweet-seeming paranormal highjinks. As a child on the Cape, I had my own run-ins with the ghost-world, so I listened intently – two parts skeptic and one part true believer. And, surrounded by tens of thousands of both true and made-up stories, how could I resist letting myself get swept up in the pleasures of a good old-fashioned ghost story?