Biblio-Adventure: Toadstool Bookshop, New Hampshire

Stone wall around the Old Burying Ground, Jaffrey, NH (
Stone wall around the Old Burying Ground, Jaffrey, NH


Yesterday I made a pilgrimage to Jaffrey, NH to visit the graves of Willa Cather and her life-long partner Edith Lewis. The last time I visited, in 2014, there was snow up to my thighs in some areas. I wanted to avoid that to be able to see more of the old headstones and so squeezed in a drive yesterday. It was a gorgeous fall day — the leaves are dazzling now in southern New Hampshire — and the rain held off until I left the cemetery.


Willa Cather Headstone (
The back of Willa Cather’s headstone — the lighter grey one in the distance — as you approach from the cemetery entrance.


I asked Lory of The Emerald City Book Review for bookish recommendations in the area and she suggested Toadstool Bookshop in Peterborough. Without delay, that’s were I headed after paying my respects.


Toadstool Bookshop, Peterborough, NH (
Toadstool Bookshop storefront in Peterborough, New Hampshire
Toadstool Bookshop, Peterborough, NH (
What you behold upon entry. To the left are shelves of  Local Interest & New England books and to the right is a cafe. This is a big store with a fantastic selection. Whoever set it up has great space planning skills as each section seems to be in its own cozy space. Things got so cozy that when I went to pay I realized I no longer had my bag on my shoulder. I retraced my steps and found it where I left it, on the floor next to a chair where I stopped to read for a bit.
Toadstool Bookshop, Peterborough, NH (
One of the special things about this bookshop is that in addition to their primary focus on new books, they have a fantastic, well-curated used section as well. These model planes fly over the military history section and there were more hanging in other areas as well (not pictured: model tanks).
Toadstool Bookshop, Used Picture Books, Peterborough, NH (
I’m not typically draw to the children’s section, but seeing a whole wall of gently used picture books so well displayed drew me in.
Saucy by Martha McKeen Welch, Illustrated by Unada (
“No way!” I exclaimed aloud when I spotted Saucy by Martha McKeen Welch. This is one of my favorite books from childhood. I was overjoyed with happiness at stumbling upon it. I read it and carried it around while I browsed and then put it back in the hope that some child will find it and love it — but only a child whose parents understand the importance of spaying and neutering pets.
Cannonball Simp by John Burningham (
Another childhood favorite of mine — Cannonball Simp by John Burningham. I read it as well and still enjoyed the story. Spoiler alert: I’m still appalled that people just dump animals (at the dump, no less!).  Also, provides a bit of a balm if you suffer from Coulrophobia (clown phobia).
The House on East 88th Street by Bernard Waber (
Another one I remember from childhood, The House on East 88th Street by Bernard Waber. These childhood favorites are all part of Houghton Mifflin’s Weekly Reader Children’s Book Club.
Maud Martha by Gwendolyn Brooks (
When Emily and I put out a call for suggestions for the next Book Cougars read-along on our Goodreads page, listener Robin suggested Maud Martha by Gwendolyn Brooks. I was thrilled to find this copy at Toadstool! I wasn’t aware that Brooks wrote novels. My exposure to her was as a poet. I had the honor of attending a talk Brooks gave at my college in the early 90s and she made a lasting impression on me, one of kindness, good humor, and intellectual curiosity.


Thanks to Lory for recommending I visit Toadstool! They have two other locations in New Hampshire (in Keene and Milford) that I definitely hope to visit soon. Check them out:

I’d love to hear what some of your favorite childhood reads are.




  1. That store front is such a draw. It would pull me in! Sounds like a wonderful outing.

    Two books stand out from my childhood. “The Story about Ping” is about a duck in China. I loved that book and as the years went by I always remembered that this is the first book I checked out of the library with my own library card when I was 6. The second one is Pollyanna, which I still love.

  2. I think it’s so cool that you found some of your childhood favorites. I tend not to scan the picture books since my son is now past that age (though I usually come away from every visit with a chapter book for him) but I should. One book I remember and would like to have is The Elephant and the Bad Baby, which I thought was just hilarious.

  3. The aircraft display is great! the biplanes and triplane are similar to what Claude Wheeler might have seen looking up, in One of Ours, what his friend the pilot would have flown (and died in). Someone loved the art of crafting each of them, and how nice to see them correctly in the air that is their medium. How were the tanks displayed?

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