Books

8 book-themed activities in Connecticut to try this summer

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Summer can be a time to take a break, and for some that means escaping to the world inside a good book. Fortunately, Connecticut offers numerous activities for bibliophiles who want to stay immersed in the literary world outside of book shops.

From a restaurant that serves free books with your meal to a Harry Potter gift shop, here are fun, interactive ways to take your summer reading to the next level.

Explore The Book Barn

Niantic


The Book Barn

The Book Barn

Angelo Granell

Like a good novel, this place is very easy to get lost in. The store has three locations, the largest being the Main Barn, to accommodate its increasing supply of over 500,000 volumes. The store grows so quickly, it amasses an estimated 10 to 14,000 volumes a week in the summer. After you’ve digested the sight of so many books, you can explore the Main Barn’s gardens that occasionally have turtles and fish, take your kids to the playground, search for the roaming goats and cats and check to see if there’s any paranormal activity in the Halloween-themed Haunted Book Shop.

Open daily from 11 am to 6 pm at 41 West Main Street in Niantic. For more information, visit bookbarnniantic.com



Dine at The Traveler Restaurant

Union


The Traveler Restaurant in Union, CT.

The Traveler Restaurant in Union, CT.

Contributed by Traveler Restaurant

Food and books. Those two words are enough to draw scores of travelers each year, including celebrities like Bill Murray and Susan Sarandon. At the quaint American-theme restaurant near the Massachusetts border, customers get three free books of their choosing with each meal. Customers can spend hours browsing through the two-floor library, enjoying a family-style breakfast and discussing books with other guests.

Open Wednesday to Monday with varying hours at 1257 Buckley Hwy # I-84, Union. Check out their Facebook page to learn about specials.



Visit The Mark Twain House & Museum

Hartford


The Mark Twain House & Museum has received a $25,000 grant to continue its educational programs.

The Mark Twain House & Museum has received a $25,000 grant to continue its educational programs.

Twain House & Museum / Contributed photo

Fans of Mark Twain can check out the 25-room Victorian-style mansion where the author resided from 1874 to 1891 and wrote many of his most famous works, including “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” and “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.” The museum features a tour of the house, including the study where he wrote his famous classics, an art exhibit, documentary screening and virtual book talks. It is also free for children 18 and under with one accompanying adult until Sept. 5.

Open daily for tours from 10 am to 4:30 pm at 351 Farmington Ave., Hartford. For more information, visit marktwainhouse.org



Tour the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center

Hartford


The Harriet Beecher Stowe Center in Hartford, Conn.

The Harriet Beecher Stowe Center in Hartford, Conn.

Contributed photo / Harriet Beecher Stowe Center

At the Victorian Gothic cottage next door to the Mark Twain House, guests learn about the life of Harriet Beecher Stowe and the impact of her 1852 book, “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” which exposed the horrors of slavery and strengthened the abolitionist movement. The interactive tour of her home showcases Stowe’s oil paintings, including an exhibit of Uncle Tom’s legacy and features discussions on how social issues of the 19th century connect to the present day. On Aug. 4the home of Stowe’s sister, suffragist Isabella Beecher Hooker (which is around the corner from the Stowe Center), will receive its marker on the National Votes for Women Trail.

Open Thursday to Monday with varying hours at 77 Forest St., Hartford. For more information, visit harrietbeecherstowecenter.org.



Check out The Cloak and Wand magic shop

Mystic


The Cloak and Wand opened this month in Olde Mistick Village, offering customers magical oddities and edible potions.

The Cloak and Wand opened this month in Olde Mistick Village, offering customers magical oddities and edible potions.

Josh LaBella / Hearst Connecticut Media

You don’t have to travel all the way to Orlando, Fla. or even outside Connecticut to visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. With its wide array of magical items and potion bar, The Cloak and Wand looks straight out of Hogsmeade. The fantasy wizarding and witchcraft shop decorated with haunted portraits sells fortune telling cards, Dungeons & Dragons starter set, books about mermaids and leprechauns and other items for magic lovers. Young Harry Potter fans can do some back-to-Hogwarts shopping by purchasing books, cloaks, wands, apparel, brooms and potion kits. Visitors can also check out the potion bar and pick from one of their 64 flavors, including Maple Syrup pancakes or Strawberry.

The shop is located on 27 Coogan Blvd. in Olde Mistick Village. Click here to view its summer hours.


Walk by F.Scott Fitzgerald’s old house

Westport


A view of the historical home that was leased by F. Scott Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda in 1920, along Compo Road South in Westport.

A view of the historical home that was leased by F. Scott Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda in 1920, along Compo Road South in Westport.

Christian Abraham / Christian Abraham

Before he wrote “The Great Gatsby,” F. Scott Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda spent the summer of 1920 in a Westport house just north of the Longshore Country Club and close to Comp Beach. While the pair only lived in Westport for six months, they made their presence known and took many wild rides on South Compo Road. According to the documentary “Gatsby in Connecticut,” the two lived next to a millionaire who threw extravagant parties and could have been the inspiration for Jay Gatsby. The house is privately owned, but fans can still get a view from the road, see the historic marker in front of the house and look for similarities between the novel and Westport.

The house is privately owned and is located on 244 Compo Beach South, Westport.



Compete in a summer reading challenge


Mercedes Rancano Otero | Getty Images

Libraries like the Norwalk Public Library and New Canaan Library are holding adult summer reading challenges, where participants can earn prizes for reading various types of books. While it’s already halfway through summer, there’s still a chance to sign up and add a little competition to your summer reading.



Participate in a ‘Book Crawl’


Byrd's Books is at 178 Greenwood Ave.  in Bethel.

Byrd’s Books is at 178 Greenwood Ave. in Bethel.

H John Voorhees III / Hearst Connecticut Media

While Independent Book Store Day is April 27, independent book stores across the state mark the day with a “Book Crawl,” where participants receive a map and have a chance to win prizes for visiting all participating book shops. this year, Byrd’s Books issued a CT Independent Bookstore Passport, where participants who visited all stores in one weekend were drawn to win a $850 prize, a $50 gift card for each store. Passport holders who visit all 17 independent book stores by Sept. 5 will then be randomly drawn to win a prize of $20 gift for each store, $300 in total.




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