“Set Yourself Free” at Whitlock’s Book Barn in Bethany, CT

I recently visited Whitlock’s Book Barn with my Book Cougars buddy Emily. This was a first visit for both of us.

Whitlock's Book Barn Entrance (WildmooBooks.com)
Whitlock’s Book Barn Entrance

Whitlock’s has been in business since 1948. Meg, the manager, told us a little history of the place. There’s a link to their website at the end of this post if you’d like to know more about the place. They’ve been written up in a variety of publications, including the New York Times.

Whitlock's Book Barn January 2018 (WildmooBooks.com)
Whitlock’s main building, or at least the the building where the cash register is located, was originally a turkey barn.
Whitelock's Lower Barn, January 2018 (WildmooBooks.com)
It may look small in that first photo, but it’s a long building.
Inside Whitlock's Book Barn, lower barn, January 2018 (WildmooBooks.com)
A view from inside. Near the back looking toward the front. Whitlock’s sells prints and maps as well as books.
Whitlock's Book Barn, January 2018 (WildmooBooks.com)
Barbar the Elephant first entered the world of books in France in 1931 and in England & the U.S. in 1933.
Northrop Frye, The Well-Tempered Critic, first edition (WildmooBooks.com)
I wasn’t in the mood to browse through the Literary Criticism section, but look forward to exploring it in subsequent visits. Some gems did catch my eye, such as this edition of Northrop Frye’s The Well-Tempered Critic in fine condition.
The Encyclopedia Britannica (WildooBooks.com)
I poured over encyclopedias at the library when I was a kid. Those weren’t quite as old as this gorgeous, well-worn set.
Vintage postcards (WildmooBooks.com)
I love postcards . . . vintage, contemporary, you name it.
The Upper Barn at Whitlock's (WildmooBooks.com)
The upper barn. The lower barn houses prints and books $6 and up. All the books in this upper barn are under five bucks.
Set Yourself Free - Whitlock's Book Barn (WildmooBooks.com)
“Set Yourself Free” — a great slogan for a bookstore. Looking at this photo, I just realized Emily and I never made it upstairs to see the prints and maps in this building. Guess we’ll have to go back.
New Arrivals! Whitlock's Book Barn (WildmooBooks.com)
New Arrivals section. The sections in both buildings are well-labeled.
Emily at Whitlock's Book Barn (WildmooBooks.com)
Snow was melting off the roof and it sounded like a babbling brook was running through the upper barn. Emily had to pee. There was no bathroom. The situation hampered her book browsing experience. TMI? If you think not, there’ll be an audio clip of it on Episode 37 of the Book Cougars.
The Hardy Boys at Whitlock's Book Barn (WildmooBooks.com)
I 💙 The Hardy Boys.
Emily and Chris, The Book Cougars at Whitlock's Book Barn (WildmooBooks.com)
Happy Book Cougars in their natural environment.
Peter Høeg Book Haul from Whitlock's Book Barn (WildmooBooks.com)
Book haul! I was in the middle of reading Smilla’s Sense of Snow when we visited Whitlock’s. I spotted a copy of Borderliners that someone left on top of a bookcase and then found The History of Danish Dreams properly shelved. They both came home with me.

I’m happy to have finally made it to Whitlock’s Book Barn. I’d first learned about it through LibraryThings‘ now defunct Readar app, which allowed users to pull up all the libraries and/or bookstores in their area. Readar was super helpful when I first moved to Connecticut four years ago and when I’ve been traveling. I recently asked LibraryThing if they’re going to update the app and was told they’re working to include some of that information in their main app. Friends from Chicago have also asked me if I visited Whitlock’s and I can now report that I have.

The contemporary fiction selection seemed a little on the light side this first visit and the classics section was surprisingly tiny. I look forward to going back in a month or two to see what kind of turn over they have. I’ll also hone in on some of my favorite categories like history and ships. And that literary criticism section, too, if I’m in the mood.

Whitlock’s Book Barn
20 Sperry Road
Bethany, Connecticut 06524

Whitlock's Book Barn, Google Map (WildmooBooks.com)
Whitlock’s is about 10 minutes from New Haven


  1. What a cool shop! I love all the pictures you got it really shows the feel of the place. Too bad you never got upstairs. I guess there is always next time!

    • It was probably my subconscious creating a reason to need to go back sooner (I didn’t see the whole thing!) rather than later (Gee, I haven’t been to Whitlock’s in a while). Haha!

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