Literary City Guide | Boston, MA


A Boston man is the east wind made flesh.
— Thomas Appleton

Tour Guide: Rachael Ringenberg

Rachael bakes in the afternoons, writes when she has a good sentence or two in mind, reads in the evenings, and cavorts with her two little girls around Boston the rest of the time. 

 

Q&A

Relationship to Boston: I moved to Boston so my husband could go to school for architecture in Cambridge. Seven years later, I’m still writing bucket lists of things to see.

Writer you'd like to invite to dinner: John Jeremiah Sullivan, essayist and likable fellow.

Chef you'd like to prepare the meal: The clever duo behind PHaDE.

Writing soundtrack: Silence or background hubbub. 

Pen or Pencil: Pen, but I never seem to have the right one around.

Coffee or Tea: I’m a daily tea drinker. I write better things when on coffee though. 

Paperback or Hardback? Paperback, curled up along the edges, age-cured by bookstores filled with cats, and ready for cupping in one hand.


Good Reads


BOOKSTORES

Trident Booksellers. A bookstore and diner-style restaurant combined perfectly. Known for their breakfast, they have a great location on Boston’s primary shopping street.

Brattle Book Shop. One of the oldest antiquarian bookstore in the country, it’s part building, part outdoor market. Instagram possibilities are endless here.

Commonwealth Books. This spot is a hidden shop that opens up once you step inside. Eclectic and diverse collection, with plenty of out-of-print and scholarly titles.

LIBRARIES

Boston Public Library Copley Square. Architecturally glorious, this location has an inner courtyard for relaxing within the city, and occasional concerts. A lovely reading room too.  

The Boston Athenaeum. One of the oldest independent libraries in the country, this private library opened in 1807 (membership starts at $200 for the year). This serene building is home to some of Boston’s oldest documents. Books can be checked out for three months at a time and they have one of the best porches in the city! Plan ahead to attend an art and architecture tour on Tuesday or Thursdays so you can tour the whole building for free.

Mary Baker Eddy Library. A museum dedicated to the founder of Christian Science. Framed by a beautiful plaza of fountains, this library contains a mapparium, a huge stained-glass globe that you can walk through for $6.

READINGS & CONFERENCES

Boston Book Festival. A fantastic free three-day festival held over the weekend in October. Hundreds of presenters, based right downtown in the lovely Copley Square. 

Bash Reading Series. Stop by the Brookline Booksmith for a poetry reading on Friday nights, once a month.

The Boston Haiku Society. Created to promote the writing and reading of haiku poetry in English, this group meets once a month in downtown Boston.

OTHER FINDS

Walk through Beacon Hill to see the neighborhood that hosted a young Thoreou, Louisa May Alcott, and Nathanial Hawthorne or take a guided walking tour

The Avery Bar at the Ritz Carlton is the perfect bar to curl up with a book by the fire, and the waitresses won’t pester you one bit. 

Book lovers are often vintage lovers as well: visit the SOWA weekend market for antiques, vintage prints and books, and food truck gathering.

Good Eats


COFFEE SHOPS

Pavement Coffee. Try something fun here like the iced espresso with lemon that riffs on an old fashioned, or the Chemex coffee for two.

Thinking Cup. Three locations in the city prove that this place has the buttery pastries, good sandwiches, and great espresso dynamic figured out. Their hazelnut latte is venerable.

Caffe Paradiso. Deep within the North End (Boston’s Little Italy) this spot instantly transports me back to Rome. Sit at the counter in the back or a street-side tiny table up front.

A PROPER MEAL

O Ya. A splurge but you’ll never have a food like this amazing Japanese spot again.

Paramount. Widely popular for brunch on weekends, but their homestyle dinners are equally delicious. Try to visit on a weekday to avoid the line. 

Eastern Standard. Great food and drinks, set in a place that gives me the same feeling as watching Midnight in Paris does.

Toro. Small plates with a huge following, this spot does not take reservations but is always worth the wait.

Myers + Chang. A hip Asian fusion spot styled like a diner. Just reading the drinks menu will make you smile, and the food is affordable and delicious.

TREATS

Saus. Visit this charming nook for from-scratch Belgian waffles with five topping options, or fresh cut frites with 13 topping options. They’re devoted to their Belgian beers and open late! 

Flour Bakery. Boston’s favored temple devoted to butter, creme freche and chocolate. Pick from several locations around the city and be embolden to order widely.

Tea and Cheese at L’Espalier. Served on a weekends, this high tea is a chic luxury to relish, if you have the chance.


Rachael's 5 Favorites


1. Favorite view: The Boston Athenaeum’s fifth-floor-porch's view over the Granary Burial Ground.

2. Favorite place to write: The room in our apartment with two broad windows that look over the old carriages houses of Mount Vernon street.

3. Favorite museum: With its recent renovation, lovely dining options, grand flower arrangements and gorgeous architecture, you really can’t beat the MFA.

4. Favorite coffee shop: dwelltime, in Cambridge. I love everything they do.

5. Favorite thing about Boston: How it is peppered with green spaces and never pretentious about its history.