What consistently rates 4.9 to 5.0 on the major customer review sites? What business is both destination and resource, a tradition, a haven, valued, endangered and has something for everyone, at every age? 
Hands down, it is your local independent bookstore. They have faced challenges (think “When Harry Met Sally”) and still do (um, Amazon), but those that remain have carved out their niche with carefully curated collections, collaborations and creativity. They provide unique access to rare and out-of-print titles, compete successfully for book tours, often sell music in conjunction with books; vintage vinyl ever popular, and, of course, help me create my summer reading list. Wherever I am, if there is an independent bookstore, I am all in. My diversions this week are the perfect place to get your summer started.

The Book Cove
22 Charles Colman Blvd., Pawling
The Book Cove is the quintessential local bookstore. Intimate in size but not in stature, The Book Cove is well-known for its selection of both new, out-of-print and rare books.  The staff is friendly and knowledgeable and visitors are encouraged to linger. True to the review community, their displays are innovative and inspiring and are complemented by paper products and reading accessories. There is a dedicated children’s reading area, popular and regional author events and discounts for teachers, students and book clubs.

While I love it:
Because long ago it was featured on “CBS Sunday Morning,” my weekly inspiration. Because The Book Cove will order or locate pretty much any book you might conceive of searching for…and always do so with a smile, which can come at a premium elsewhere these days. And because, like so many other independent bookstores, the town is really a nice destination as well, so a visit can truly be a day-trip.

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Oblong Books
26 Main St., Millerton
6422 Montgomery St., Rhinebeck
Oblong Books has been an institution in Millerton since 1975 and in Rhinebeck since 2001. Both are known for their book and music collections and have the distinction of being the largest independent seller of both in the Hudson Valley. There is a robust calendar of events including national, regional, cookbooks, YA, children’s and the popular White Hart Speaker Series, a collaboration among Oblong, the venerable White Hart Inn and the Scoville Memorial Library. This multi-generational family run enterprise is known for being a “community” within the broader of community of each of its locales because of the welcoming vibe and highly personalized service.

Why I love it:
Because in addition to the obvious (great service, extensive collections of books, music and gifts, etc.), there are two funny personal connections for me: My mom is a graduate of the University of Iowa as is the daughter of the founder of Oblong, and my parents honeymooned at the White Hart Inn…Because both towns are also worth exploring.

Bruised Apple Books and Music
923 Central Ave., Peekskill
I think the reviews truly say it all: “You’re sure to find books you’ve been looking for all your life.” And, “It’s a great place to find new and old books as well as beloved LPs from days gone by.” The Bruised Apple, located in a classic vintage storefront in downtown Peekskill, is packed with every category of used books, new books about local and regional history, vinyl, CDs, DVDs, antiques, collectibles and curious objets d’art. The vibe is very chill and welcoming; be prepared to stay a while.

Why I love it:
Because a visit to the Bruised Apple is really a treasure hunt. Because what is better than a vintage typewriter in a vintage bookstore? Because there are handwritten notes everywhere; it is a very personal shopping experience. Because, like the others above, the town, in this case the city of Peekskill, is a really fun place to immerse yourself in.