Professors and students alike shop at Harvard Book Store (1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, 617/661-1515, 9:30 a.m.–8 p.m. Mon.–Sat.; 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Sun., www.harvard.com ), which has been named one of the best in the country for its combination of erudite bestsellers and brainy staff.
Brookline Booksmith (279 Harvard St., Brookline, 617/566-6660, 10 a.m.–8:30 p.m. Mon.–Sat.; 10 a.m.–7 p.m. Sun., www.brooklinebooksmith.com ) anchors the neighborhood of Coolidge Corner with an attractive bookstore well laid out for browsing.
Trident Booksellers and Cafe (338 Newbury St., 617/267-8688, 8 a.m.–12 a.m., www.tridentbookscafe.com ) has a good selection of magazines along with books focusing on philosophy and Eastern spirituality.
The owner of the Brattle Book Shop (9 West St., 617/542-0210, 9 a.m.–5:30 p.m. daily, www.brattlebookshop.com ), Ken Gloss, scours estate sales for rare and antique page-turners, then dusts them off for browsing.
In Porter Square, the large and musty McIntyre & Moore (255 Elm St.1971 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, 617/629-4840229-5641, 10 a.m.–8 p.m. Mon.–Wed.; 10 a.m.–10 p.m. Mon.–Wed.; 12 p.m.–8 p.m. Sun., www.mcintyreandmoore.com ) has a great selection of literary criticism and cultural theory, along with shelves of fiction and nonfiction books.
You’ve heard about Curious George and Snow White, but what about Herb the Vegetarian Dragon? A “thinking child’s bookstore,” Barefoot Books (1771 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, 617/349-1610, 10 a.m.–6 p.m. Mon.–Sat.; 12 p.m.–5 p.m. Sun., www.barefootbooks.com ) offers decidedly imaginative titles.
In Harvard Square , Grolier Poetry Bookshop (6 Plympton St., Cambridge, 617/547-4648, 10 a.m.–8 p.m. Mon.–Sat.; 11 p.m.–5 p.m. Sun., www.grolierpoetrybookshop.com ) is one of only two bookstores in America devoted completely to poetry.
Nearby, Schoenhof’s Foreign Books (76A Mount Auburn St., Cambridge, 617/547-8855, 10 a.m.–8 p.m. Mon.–Fri.; 10 a.m.–7 p.m. Sat.; 10 a.m.–6 p.m. Sun., www.schoenhofs.com ) offers the largest selection of foreign books in North America.
Art scholars worldwide go to Ars Libri (500 Harrison St., 617/357-5212, 9 a.m.–6 p.m. Sat.–Fri.; 11 a.m.–5 p.m. Sat.; closed Sun., www.arslibri.com ), full of rare and out-of-print tomes on art and sculpture.