Of books and road trips
In the 1890s, sellers of rare and secondhand books flourished in New York City along six blocks known around the world as Book Row. Even into the 1950s, three dozen used and antiquarian bookstores lined Fourth Avenue between Union Square and Astor Place.
Today the Alabaster Book-shop, which opened in 1996, is the only used bookstore along that stretch, according to Alan Korolenko, a Westport resident who frequented Book Row as a young man.
A champion of independent bookstores, Korolenko now brings a busload of book lovers to the neighborhood as often as he and his wife, Helene, can find enough takers. At least three bookstores in Greenwich Village have closed since the couple started the bus trips in 2008. The next trip is May 21. On the itinerary of 18 bookstores is Mast Books, which opened last year; bookbook, formerly the Biography Bookshop; Bonnie Slotnick Cookbooks, whose owner was a consultant to “Julie and Julia’’; the legendary Strand; and Idlewilde Books, specializing in travel and international literature.
The Korolenkos hand out maps so people can explore the neighborhood on their own if they don’t want to join the literary walking tour. The $70 fee is due by April 7. E-mail Helene at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 508-673-8523 to assure that space is available. If the 6:30 a.m. departure time from New Bedford is a hardship, Helene can suggest a nearby hotel with reasonable rates.
“A book that affectingly blends poetry and journalism to detail a significant moment in the civil rights movement in Arkansas’’ is how the judges described poetry winner C.D. Wright’s “One with Others: [a little book of her days]’’ (Copper Canyon). Wright, a native of Arkansas and a former poet laureate of Rhode Island, teaches at Brown University in Providence.
■ “The Land of Painted Caves’’ by Jean M. Auel (Crown)
■ “Horoscopes for the Dead: Poems’’ by Billy Collins (Random House)
Jan Gardner can be reached at JanLGardner@yahoo.com.