Kim Visits Baldwin’s Book Barn

November 27, 2014 2014, bookish trips, Kim 27

Hello, dear friends! Today I am coming at you with this most delightful of posts. I recently took a trip to Baldwin’s Book Barn in West Chester, PA. I actually discovered its existence when our own Wendy tweeted out this directory for independent bookstores and I discovered that I had this whimsical wonder practically in my own backyard! I knew I just had to take the trip. It was also featured in Buzzfeed’s list of the Great American Bookstores. I hope you can find similarly deserving treasures in your neighborhood!





The building itself was built in 1822 and was an actual farmhouse until it founds its new life as a bookstore in 1946. Book lovers have been flocking to it ever since.



This is the main entrance. It has a coal stove because of course it does. It’s a 19th century farm building. I was obviously and utterly charmed from the moment I stepped into the store.




A set of Horatio Alger (and other) books found in the Children’s and YA room.




Someone (I swear it wasn’t me!) rather artfully placed this copy of Country Cats next to, yes, a rather sleepy country cat! Country bookstore cat! Even better :D This cat was so fat and placid and sleepy and happy. I imagine he lives the very best life a cat can.




One of the many, many chairs situated throughout the reading nooks of this five story beauty. At every corner, on every level there are are chairs for sitting and reading. So comfy, so cozy!






Here’s just an example of what the shelves looked like. Just jam packed with old and rare books. To be among them, to take that deep breath and inhale the scent of those old books. Ah, what heaven.





Some of the “shelves” were actually old packing crates with antique advertisements. I find this sort of thing fascinating.




I really was touched by this name I found in a random book in the German section. Mary Gehman wrote her name in this copy of her book in 1877. It exists still today and is discoverable by anyone who comes in contact with it. She lives on in that way. The lives of books! And how they can become the lives of their owners! Captivating. To simply be in this place, amongst all these books, to think of all the hands these old books have touched and the minds they have reached over actual centuries… It is an intensely humanist experience and one I found profoundly awe inducing and humbling.





Yes, even the staircases at the Book Barn have books! Of course they do! “Nooks and crannies full o’books” is just one way to describe this place. It is every book lover’s heaven and if you are ever fortunate enough to be in the area (about 40 minutes outside of Philadelphia) you shouldn’t hesitate to visit! I can guarantee your book lover’s heart will fill with delight and your soul will feel at peace and rest.



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To all my American friends, Happy Thanksgiving! I am filled with so much gratitude this Thanksgiving for this incredible community I have been so graciously welcomed into. Joining this blog, and getting to know so many of you over this past year, has been a true highlight of my life. I find it an honor to have such friends to share this passion with.I have had some truly unbelievable experiences in this year and they would never have happened if Wendy hadn’t invited me here to be a part of this wondrous community.

To love books is to love life, and to have such smart, articulate, and passionate friends is a joy and a pleasure. Thank you for being a cherished part of my life. <3



kim teal

27 Responses to “Kim Visits Baldwin’s Book Barn”

  1. Wendy Darling

    You know you’re taking me and Layla here when we finally come visit you, right? O magical bookstore, we love you already! I made Mr. Darling read this post and he enjoyed it, too.

    And dear Kim, you know this already from my Thanksgiving Day text, but I’m so very glad you came into our lives. The blog has been enriched immeasurably because of your lovely presence.

    • Kim

      It really doesn’t get any better! Well, maybe if they served hot chocolate and cider in the wintertime. But let’s not get demanding! The place is plenty magical enough. :)

      And I know! I was particularly touched by the signature. Books are a sort of magic in that they allow not only an author to give you their words traveling through time often long after they’re read but also in how you can imagine how many lives an old book has touched. How many hands have felt that book and how many hearts were touched by the same book you’re reading now. It’s all just so humanistic and wonderful. Books are just the best, man.
      Kim recently posted…Classic MG Readalong: Farmer Boy

  2. Layla A

    I’d not seen that Buzzfeed list, and I’m actually doing better than I thought at hitting some of those up. (I was really pleased to see one of my favorite Miami bookstores, Books & Books, on the list! Ahh, it’s so good. Will need to hit that up when I’m home for Christmas.)

    But I am so envious that you live in such close proximity to this one! For a venue for a bookstore, I don’t think I’ve seen one lovelier or more perfect than that. AND THE CAT. My next morph is bookstore cat ;). I bet it’s a great life; loads of shelves to hop on, heights from which to pounce, and lots of petting hands. Also napping 24/7.

    Did you see any particularly neat books? That’s always my fave part of old bookstores – browsing and discovering weird / awesome books.
    Layla A recently posted…The Secret Sky: A Novel of Forbidden Love in Afghanistan

    • Kim

      Now that I know that list exists I feel compelled to check it for every new city I go to! I’ve actually only been to two-Baldwin’s and The Last Bookstore in LA just recently when I was there last month! Obv I need to work on my great bookstore visiting. And domestic traveling.

      But you should come visit Philly! There would be much food, and drinking, and Baldwin visiting. A merry time.

      I didn’t really see any books too closely. I’m sure there are tons of treasures but I was relatively quick in my visit. I felt a little shady peaking around corners and surreptitiously taking photos of everything. It’s not like I wasn’t allowed to but I was weirdly afraid someone would be interested in why I was taking photos and I am scared of nothing if not talking to strangers. So there you have it. But I imagine I will be visiting many more times in the future. I will report back on any gems for sure!
      Kim recently posted…Classic MG Readalong: Farmer Boy

  3. Katie @ Spirit of Children's Literature

    I love this post, Kim! I’m so glad you visited Baldwin’s and took such fantastic pictures, and blogged about it. That cat really does have a wonderful life! I lived in the West Chester area a few years ago and LOVED having this book barn so nearby. I have bought many books from Baldwin’s and really miss it–along with the cats that roam the halls. I agree–the nooks and crannies filled with books are delightful. It’s a wonderful place every book lover should visit.

    So glad you’re a part of the book blogging community–it wouldn’t be the same without you!! I’ve really enjoyed all your posts on TMG. Happy Thanksgiving!!
    Katie @ Spirit of Children’s Literature recently posted…#TopTenTuesday: Top Ten Books To Read for Winter

    • Kim

      Oh it makes me so, so happy you’ve been here before, Katie! Someone else knows the joy! I can’t believe I’ve been living so close by for years and I never knew it existed! And I was just saying earlier how I wish I could have magically taken everyone with me. If you’re ever back in the area you’ll have to let me know and we can take a trip! :D
      Kim recently posted…Classic MG Readalong: Farmer Boy

  4. Nikki

    I really just want to take up permanent residence there, it is absolutely beautiful and only 100% what I imagine heaven to be like :)

    • Kim

      Oh it’s just any ol’ holiday with lots of food, and drink, and comfy cheer. :) I hope you get to maybe experience it here one day!

      And the Book Barn was amazing! I felt that soul deep sense of satisfaction that comes with being in very special bookstore. After all, there you are amongst friends, you know?
      Kim recently posted…Classic MG Readalong: Farmer Boy

  5. Brenda

    Ah, I can only imagine exploring all the nooks and cranny’s of books, what a wonderful looking store. A very Happy Thanksgiving to you too!

    • Kim

      It was so wonderful! I wish I could’ve scooped everyone up and brought you all along with me. Even better there’s a little picnic area outside for when the weather is nice. Midnight Garden field trip anyone?!
      Kim recently posted…Classic MG Readalong: Farmer Boy

  6. Pili

    Happy Thanksgiving to you Kim! I hope you and all the Midnight Garden ladies are having a lovely day with food and family and have plenty to be thankful for!

    That bookstore is simply amazing! I’d spend hours on end roaming around, checking all nooks and cranniers and making that kitty purr! It reminds me of a gorgeous bookstore in Goa called Literati, it’s an old colonial house turned bookstore and it’s also a wonder to spend time in! Instead of a cat they do have a wonderful loving labrador doggie called Frida! It breaks my heart thinking how unlikely it is that I’ll ever go there again…
    Pili recently posted…Ink & Batter #9: Ensnared by A.G. Howard!!!

    • Kim

      Thanks, Pili! <3 I knowwww. I could easily have spent an entire day there. There were so many treasures to go through and it was really just book lover's heaven.

      Your bookstore in Goa sounds amazing! I have several places like that; beloved places that are far away that I'm really unsure if I'll ever get to see again. I try just to concentrate on how amazing it was that I ever got to experience such places to begin with. Even if I can never go back I will always have the experience and it's a part of me. I just try to concentrate on the *having* of it not the *not having* if that makes any sense. It helps. :)
      Kim recently posted…Classic MG Readalong: Farmer Boy

  7. Carina Olsen

    Oh my gosh, this is all kinds of awesome. <3 Looks like so much fun! And CAT! So cute :) It looks and sounds like you had an amazing time. <3 Thank you so much for sharing about it Kim. You are awesome. And Happy Thanksgiving to you :D Hope you are having an amazing day. <3
    Carina Olsen recently posted…Waiting on Wednesday #163

    • Kim

      It was the best! And this place is so close, less than 15 minutes-I had no excuse! Really I’m just very lucky to have such a unique and special bookstore practically in my backyard! I wish I could magically bring everyone here. All the bookworms! All of us!!
      Kim recently posted…Classic MG Readalong: Farmer Boy

    • Kim

      It was the actual best! If only you could bottle that smell. But, then again, it’s really being *with* the books that makes it all so magical. Old bookstores are all just equally national treasures. They must be preserved and cherished!
      Kim recently posted…Classic MG Readalong: Farmer Boy