Explore Boston

Top Stops In Boston for the Literature Fan

Boston is one of America's great literary hubs.

Venerable authors like Emerson, Hawthorne, Thoreau, Alcott and Plath have called this city home, and with so much rich history and a deep appreciation for the literary world, it's no wonder Boston is a magnet for bookworms. Bookstores—from the conventional to the utterly singular—abound in every neighborhood. The homes of many a great writer offer tours and events. The Central Branch of the Boston Public Library alone can make a buff swoon.

Check out this compilation to ensure your bookish adventure in Boston is tops. 

Boston Public Library

America’s first municipally-funded public library houses millions of books, manuscripts, music scores and art and boasts a scenic courtyard, events, readings and exhibits. Free art and architecture tours available.

Boston Women's Memorial

This piece of public art highlights three progressive women in Boston’s past who challenged the conventions of the times in which they lived. Using their respective pedestal as a prop, life-sized sculptures of Abigail Adams, Lucy Stone and Phillis Wheatley invite the viewer to interact with it.

Trident Booksellers Cafe

Since 1984. Hide away for a day in this cozy half-bookstore, half-café with an extensive selection of magazines, unusual and bargain books, and unique specialties including the metaphysical, psychology and philosophy on the shelves here.

Harvard Book Store

Since 1932. Harvard Square’s landmark independent bookstore provides a wide selection of literary, scholarly and general interest books. Two floors of new, used and remaindered books; out-of-towners can find maps, guides and Harvard memorabilia. Frequent author readings. Print-on-demand services. Ships worldwide.

Orchard House, Home of the Alcotts

Home of author Louisa May Alcott and her family from 1858-1877, the Orchard House is believed to be the setting where Alcott wrote “Little Women” in 1868. Shown by guided tour only. Admission: $5-9. April-October, open M-Sa 10 am-4:30 pm, Su 1-4:30 pm.

Schoenhof's Foreign Books

Since 1856. If you speak another language or want to learn one, Schoenhof’s stacks its shelves with piles of classic and contemporary titles in French, German, Italian and Russian, as well as lesser spoken languages like Esperanto, Afrikaans, Norwegian and Turkish.

Grolier Poetry Book Shop

Since 1927. Grolier is the country’s oldest continuously operating poetry bookshop and remains an eclectic must-stop for any and all poetry enthusiasts. Over its history, this tiny independent can count as patrons the likes of Anais Nin, Seamus Heaney and ee cummings.

Ralph Waldo Emerson House

Famed writer, poet and transcendentalist lived in this house most of his adult life, and the house and grounds remain much as they were during Emerson’s time.

Brookline Booksmith

Located steps from the Coolidge Corner T stop, Brookline Booksmith is one of the Hub’s most cherished independent bookstores. Find all varieties of reads, from fiction to history to biography, and check out the Used Book Cellar for great deals.

Old Corner Book Store

Freedom Trail attraction. One of Boston’s oldest surviving buildings, this structure was built in 1712 and was built on property that was at one time owned by religious activist Anne Hutchinson.

Boston Athenaeum

This landmark is one of the city’s largest and oldest membership libraries and its first museum of fine arts. Its collections include the personal library of George Washington and art by John Singer Sargent. Public hours: Tu noon-8 pm, W-Sa 10 am-4 pm. Admission $2-10.

Mount Auburn Cemetery

Founded 1831. Culture hounds have a field day at Mount Auburn, where the souls of 19th-century forward thinkers linger in America’s first landscaped cemetery. Mary Baker Eddy and Isabella Stewart Gardner. Charles Bulfinch and Buckminster Fuller. Oliver Wendall Holmes, Winslow Homer, and hundreds more.

Walden Pond State Reservation

Henry David Thoreau’s sojourn at Walden from 1845-1847 has inspired a long tradition of visitors to this scenic pond, considered the birthplace of the conservation movement. Hike trails through area woods, the nearby Brister’s Hill path, picnic or boat on the kettle pond.

Louisburg Square

Pronounced “Lewis-berg,” this somewhat difficult to find, affluent Beacon Hill address has long been home to some of Boston’s richest and most famous residents—Louisa May Alcott, Henry James, the Vanderbilts, the Kennedys and Senator John Kerry among them.

Brattle Book Shop

Since 1825. The longest continuously operating antiquarian book store in Boston, and known nationwide. The Brattle houses every conceivable used and rare book, from antique tomes to the season’s bestsellers, as well as maps and prints, across three floors. Don’t miss the outside sale lot for extra-special deals.

The Mount Estate Gardens

Discover Edith Wharton’s historic American Renaissance estate and lush Italian-style gardens, which she designed and built herself. In this picturesque setting, the first female Pulitzer Prize winner penned works like “The House of Mirth” and entertained guests like Henry James.

Sleepy Hollow Cemetery

Concord’s largest cemetery is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is located a short distance from Concord’s town center.