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10 great Northampton venues for writing and reading

Being both a college town and an artsy city, Northampton has more than its share of writers (aspiring or otherwise) and avid readers.

So it’s not unusual to walk into a venue and see numerous folks tapping away on laptops, scribbling on notepads or staring intently into the pages of an actual book. Some places are better than others for these types of activities, however, so we thought it would be fun and instructive to list 10 of the best spots for one’s literary pursuits, be they the creative or consumer kind. As always, this list is not meant to be comprehensive and we welcome you to add your own favorites in the comments section below.

Starting on the east side of town and moving more or less west:

Blarney Blowout

When the Saturday a week before St. Patrick’s Day is also the first mild day after weeks of freezing cold, what do you get in a college town like Amherst?

Some call it a party. Some call it a riot. In the sunny mid-afternoon, the Advocate observed that the downtown that’s home to the bars whose promotional gimmicks helped create the Barney Blowout was calm, with small groups of young people walking around quietly in green hats or T-shirts, mostly making their way back up North Pleasant Street toward the UMass campus.

But during the late morning, thousands—an estimated 4,000 in all, twice as many as last year—had gathered, first at the Puffton Village and then at the Brandywine apartment complexes north of the campus, according to police reports. Some were roaring drunk, some were passing out. Light poles were knocked down. By 1:30 a crowd had formed in the neighborhood of North Pleasant and Fearing Streets.

Who knows what’s best for our forests?

Northampton? Progressive? Chris Matera mocks the idea, at least when it comes to the environment and the city’s stewardship of public lands, including its water supply and the watershed that feeds it.

“How can a ‘progressive,’ relatively wealthy city like Northampton, with widespread sentiment for protecting public forests and a desire to do something about global warming, force its citizens to subsidize cutting down its own important public forests while expecting poor third world countries to protect their forests… ?” Matera writes in a recent screed ( lambasting Northampton Mayor David Narkewicz for allowing logging on water supply land.

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