Where to find summer beach reading while visiting the East End

Black Cat Books on Shelter Island. (Credit: BJ Gamboa)

It’s just about summertime on the East End.

Get your toes in the sand or throw yourself into a hammock while you unplug and read a book.

Forget the two-day drone drop. Hop in your convertible or pedal your beach cruiser down to one of these local havens and meet your fellow bibliophiles.

Here are three places to pick up some summer reading while you visit the East End.

Harbor Books, Sag Harbor

Harbor Books in Sag Harbor. (Credit: BJ Gamboa)

Founded November 2014, Harbor Books is incredibly welcoming. Leather chairs invite visitors to sit and linger. The center of the store is dominated by a funky tea bar and in the back, a kid-friendly section allows little ones to enjoy books as well. It’s easy to find the most recent best sellers, but they also offer curated services such as “book buckets” (carefully chosen selections to gift the other readers in your life) as well as “library building” where any theme, any subject matter can be made to fill your shelves.

When asked if any celebrities have been their customers, owner Taylor Rose Berry coyly demurred, stating that they would never reveal their clientele.

She did allow that they have built libraries for as little as $100 and upwards of $100,000. That’s a lot of high -end reading!

In the age of online book sales, she said she is extremely fortunate since Sag Harbor is a well-educated, literary town and that residents truly value a local book store. It’s a place where they can get to know the owner and employees and pet the cats.

Speaking of cats…

Black Cat Books, Shelter Island

Black Cat Books on Shelter Island. (Credit: BJ Gamboa)

Cozy and comforting, Black Cat Books is celebrating its fourth year on Shelter Island (with 10 previous years in Sag Harbor and five in Bridgehampton). The store offers second-hand books with an emphasis on classic authors (Thompson, Vonnegut, Welles) as well as a few contemporary writers.

A modest selection of vinyl records are to be had (they’re popular again, you know!) as well as some pulp fiction and comics.

But where they shine is in their collection of rare, first edition books. Certainly nothing you would want to take for beach reading, but heady purchases that would certainly boost the bragging rights of your own personal library. I, myself, am enthralled by their collection of chess books.

Owner Michael Kinsey is most proud of their signed and inscribed art books.

When asked about the experience his store offers, his eyes brighten.

“When people go into a big-box books store, they know what they want and just pick it up and leave,” he said. “When you come into a store like ours, you often find something you didn’t know you wanted.”

I share his sense of enthusiastic discovery.

Burton’s Bookstore, Greenport

Burton’s Bookstore in Greenport. (Credit: BJ Gamboa)

Scott Raulsom, the current owner, bought the joint in October of 2014, but said that Burtons has been around since at least 1979. He is a one-man show, maintaining stock, loading shelves, creating cross promotions with local libraries and wooing authors for signings.

He takes pride in providing a personalized service. His inventory is a carefully selected hodge-podge of things that interest him and his regulars. You won’t get the top 2,000 best-selling books here (though there are quite a few best-sellers), but rather a more personal and locally flavored range of reading.

So dump your smart phone and Kindle. Grab something off the shelf because nothing beats that bookish smell.

Happy reading, everyone!