dustbunnies that don't need dusting, and books that needs reading
March 2, 2008 9:58 AM   Subscribe

Favorite secret reading spots in and around Boston?

Libraries are too quiet. Coffee shops with music are often too loud. I can't read at home because I'll get distracted and end up swiffering invisible dust bunnies. Where are your favorite nooks and crannies to read?

Indoor? Outdoor? On a weekday? On a weekend? Afternoon? Night? I'd appreciate any suggestions. Thanks.
posted by raztaj to Education (8 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
I'm a fan of the Trident Booksellers & Cafe on Newbury (http://www.tridentbookscafe.com). As the name suggests, it's a bookstore-cum-cafe with pretty damn good coffee and a fairly decent menu. No loud music to distract you; also - and this is my favorite feature, personally - it's open till midnight seven days a week. Give it a try.
posted by Pontius Pilate at 10:08 AM on March 2, 2008

Mt. Auburn cemetery is a beautiful place to read if the weather is nice.
posted by justkevin at 10:28 AM on March 2, 2008

Tealuxe & Burdick's in Harvard Square don't have loud music (though the latter is crowded, unfortunately.) When the weather is nice, you can get your drinks to go and peoplewatch in Harvard Square. I also like Diesel, 1369, and Tosci's for sitting around and reading, but you might consider their music too intrusive.
posted by ubersturm at 10:55 AM on March 2, 2008

Nice weather: JFK Park in Harvard Square (the park right on the river), Harvard Yard, the Arboretum, the little sidewalk cafe between Harvard and Central Squares off Mass Ave (it's on your right if you're coming from Harvard Square, just outside the square, don't remember the name), the public gardens downtown. the Esplanade on the river when there's no concert (people-watching when there is).

Not-so-nice weather: ditto Trident - busy but not too loud, and they let you sit there for as long as you like; the cafe seating area of the downtown Borders (it's on a seperate level from the rest of the bookstore, and, again, they let you sit there forever, no music; the Harvard Coop bookstore, tons of seating everywhere, including random table-and-chair set-ups around the store - I used to do schoolwork there; Darwin's, also near Harvard Square plays music, but it's usually pretty quiet and has a great atmosphere (they also have good food).

Can you tell this is is a subject near and dear to my heart?
posted by lunasol at 11:06 AM on March 2, 2008

Lots of university buildings are open to the public. I live around Harvard Sq. and often read in the Law School lounge, Science Library, or outdoors at the quads. Lesley U. has a student lounge that's pretty quiet. In Boston, BU has a some spots with couches in the liberal arts building (don't know the exact name anymore) and the Union. I find that in general, university buildings devoted to biotech and engineering are newer and have a kind of "open plan" with more lobbies and couches than the older corridor-type buildings.

For coffeeshops, it depends on the shop. Pontius Pilate points out a good one, The Trident. In Cambridge I like upstairs at Hi-Rise Bakery or next door at Burdick's. There's some music but it tends to be quieter and less frenetic than most coffeeshops. Algiers down the street from these two also has a clientele that seems to stay all day and read or chat. I do carry earplugs on me. Even quieter places get too distracting for me at lunch hour.

The Harvard Coop in Harvard Sq. has chairs scattered all over (and also a cafe, but the cafe staff doesn't like loiterers). Most B&Ns have a cafe/couch section. Porter Sq. Books has chairs and a study table, though it can get busy (also a cafe up front that's not too loud but is front & center with the doors and the registers).

Outdoors it's really about where you are and how much activity (or weather) you can stand. Downtown at Fort Point by the Children's Museum is a nice spot. Paul Revere Mall in the North End is pleasant but off the beaten track. The Common and Garden are beautiful if busy. The benches along the mall on Comm Ave between the Garden and Mass Ave are nice. The Esplanade. Mem Drive side of the Charles. Arnold Arboretum. Forest Hills Cemetery. Mt. Auburn is also beautiful, but to my knowledge, justkevin, they actively discourage reading and picnicking. Forest Hills is much better for that, but again, it depends where you are.
posted by cocoagirl at 11:12 AM on March 2, 2008

I know you said you don't like libraries but have you been to the old building of the Boston Public Library in Copley Square? It's one of the most beautiful places I've ever been. The courtyard is just amazing and I think it would be a great place to read.
posted by sully75 at 11:23 AM on March 2, 2008

There is a lovely little room in the back of Cigar Masters at 745 Boylston, across from the Public Library in Copley square. Soft light, big fluffy couches, quiet (no tvs or music piped in), most often empty in the afternoons.
You can linger as long as you like. You don't have to enjoy cigars or even buy one. They serve coffee and tea and alcohol.
But there will be smoke.
posted by Dizzy at 11:31 AM on March 2, 2008 [2 favorites]

Athan's Cafe, on the C line in Washington Square, has good (expensive) cofee, and quiet tables for reading.
posted by amphioxus at 1:48 PM on March 2, 2008

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