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Montana Bookstore Trail

Well, if Neil Gaiman says….

I don’t know about you, but if my town didn’t have a bookstore, I’d be inspired to go get a business license.

Luckily, I live in a town with more than one. I feel very fortunate about that. And on a recent visit to my favorite (though I’m admittedly biased as a member-author,) I picked up my official passport for the Montana Bookstore Trail which is where I found that Gaiman quote. If you’re from Montana or visiting this summer, you should check this out.

It’s a map of 21 independent bookstores in 15 Montana towns. There’s a blurb about each bookstore in the passport as well a place to collect a stamp from each store. At the end, you can enter to win a drawing. Some of the stores, like This House of Books, have partnered with other local businesses to give you discounts just for stopping in.

My family loves bookstores and we were already planning a couple of trips over the summer so it wasn’t a huge leap when we decided to saddle up and see how many of these stores we can hit before summer ends.

We’ve got three down, and I’m tentatively penciling dates next to the others. Fairview is going to be the tricky one at 280 miles away. (Just over 4 hours, in MT speak.) I learned years ago when we lived out of state for a while that the distances we’re used to traveling here can be a little hard for people from less spread-out states to picture. So, just for reference, 280 miles is longer than the Grand Canyon, and about four times the width of the English Channel. New York state is 285 miles wide.

I live comparatively central. For people living in Hamilton, the distance to the furthest bookstore is over nine hours drive or 654 miles.

I love that about my state. It’s why I came back and part of why I’ll never leave. Though summer gas prices and car trouble will try to make this venture interesting.

I’ve already learned a lot. I had no idea there were so many independent bookstores in Butte, for example. I had no idea that Montana had more independent bookstores per capita than any other state! I suppose it makes sense given all that space that’s not filled with people.

I’m going to post something here about each bookstore as we travel the trail, so stay tuned to learn about some of the best places in “The Last Best Place.”

And whatever your summer plans, I hope you’re having a great time.

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