Inquiring Minds Bookstore
Just across the street, Inquiring Minds Bookstore sells both used and new books. This and a sister store in Saugerties are known for their well-attended events, their comfortable spaces (Inquiring Minds in Saugerties has a great coffee bar/café in the back with lots of tables, chairs and couches) and their broad range of books, toys and cards. Both stores hold numerous author and poetry readings, book groups and children’s events.
According to events coordinator Deborah Engel-Dimauro, owner Brian Donoghue has developed a large selection of titles in education, psychology, therapy and trauma to augment the full spectrum of general offerings. Look into the Glaring Omissions Reading Series in the Saugerties location, and check out the Books We Read booklist on the Inquiring Minds website for recommendations from local professionals and regular residents.
Inquiring Minds Bookstore, 6 Church Street, New Paltz, (845) 255-8300; corner of Main and Partition Streets, Saugerties, (845) 246-5775; https://inquiringbooks.com.
Mirabai of Woodstock
Filling a special niche in a town steeped in countercultural uniqueness, Mirabai of Woodstock was founded by Anne Roberts in 1987. In 2000, husband-and-wife team Jeffrey Cuiule and Audrey Cusson bought the business, which has always been more of a spiritual center than simply a bookshop. “Often when you enter a ‘New Age’ store,” says Cuiule, “you’ll find a sort of slant of a particular teacher or path. Mirabai has taken a more ecumenical approach. You’ll find a breadth of information here. We try to provide people with a means to find their spiritual center.”
The merchandise inventory is not limited to books and audio. “You don’t get everything from books or media in general. We also have crystals, statuary, cards and many other things that help inform a spiritual lifestyle. In addition, we do workshops throughout the year, and the store comes to life in multidimensional, highly experiential form.” Cuiule lists the variety of workshops offered: group and one-on-one sessions with channelers, astrologists, shamanic journey work, herbologists.
“What’s challenging in this niche is that people come to you with issues and problems, and it’s our job to help them. But it’s challenging, because being therapists is not our training.” He explains that you have to know when to draw the line in making recommendations, just as sellers of medicinal herbs in a natural food store must. On the other hand, being an independent bookseller gives you the opportunity to curate an incredible selection of titles: ones that a big-box store might not carry on a regular basis.
Mirabai of Woodstock, 23 Mill Hill Road, Woodstock; (845) 679-2100, https://mirabai.com.
“Independent bookstores are thriving, doing everything well,” says the Golden Notebook’s Kellachan. “It takes a lot to make it work. In some ways bookstores were once places of elitism, and their numbers have decreased. The cool thing about Barnes & Noble and the now-defunct Borders is that they democratized books in a way that didn’t exist before. It was a powerful, good thing. But the scale was just off. They knocked out a lot of indie bookstores, and now they’re disappearing because the scale was just wrong. The indies that were able to hang in are benefiting from that.”
The continuing viability of these great resources depends on us: to vote with our hard-earned dollars, to choose community over price and human contact over virtual technology and to support the ruggedly determined and dedicated booksellers who work and live among us.