Tiny houses are a thing. A trendy thing. As in, you will see a family of five on HGTV eagerly house hunt and turn down one place because 500 square feet is too big.
 
Seriously. It’s not a trend Shopping Siren ever understood. 
 
Then came Quiet City, a tiny bookstore nestled in the middle of downtown Lewiston. And, suddenly, I got it.
 
Well, no, I still don’t understand 500 square feet of living for five people (and a dog. I’m pretty sure there was a dog). That just seems like it’s asking for constant shouts of “Mom, he’s breathing on me again!” But a 165-square-foot bookstore, with wooden shelves and wide windows at the back?
 
Awesome.
 
Located at 277 Lisbon St. — look for the door next to Paul’s Clothing, go upstairs, hang a left — the new independent gift shop/bookstore is serene and cozy, with shelves pretty well stocked with new and used books, paperbacks and hardcovers, national bestsellers and self-published books by local authors.
 
Warning: You will want to pick something at random and immediately curl up in a corner to read. Or maybe nap. Caffeinate accordingly.
 
Quiet City is no Books-A-Million with its, you know, million titles. But there’s charm in the easy perusal and discovery of a small shop.
 
And if you want to get a feel for what tiny living might be like, bring your spouse, three kids and black Lab to browse for an afternoon. Then go home and stretch out with a new book.
 
• Paper roses, $4 
 
Handmade by owner Courtney Schlachter — some from the card stock of her own wedding invitations — these paper roses are unique and cool pieces of tiny art. Perfect for Mother’s Day. Which is this Sunday. But you knew that.
 
• Purplebean Bindery blank books, various prices 
 
Handmade by an Auburn artist, each blank book has a unique cover and style. When I visited earlier this week, my personal favorite was a $26 square sketchbook/journal covered in colorful bicycle-pattern cloth. I immediately felt inspired to pedal through the Twin Cities, pausing to jot down pithy observations and sketch a view of the skyline. Then I remembered it was raining out and I don’t like to get wet. But, oh, the allure! Grab a blank book and pen your own adventure.
 
• “Lisey’s Story” by Stephen King, $7.97
 
Quiet City had a few Stephen King novels, but it was the hardcover “Lisey’s Story” that caught my attention. This 2006 book tells the story of Lisey Landon, whose late husband leaves behind a mystery — and a stalker. It’s not as well-known as many of King’s other works (“It,” “Carrie,” “The Shining”), but “Lisey’s Story” sounded just as intriguing. And possibly nightmare-inducing. Because King is nothing if not good for a poor night’s sleep.
 
• “The Little Engine That Could” by Watty Piper, $3.97
 
Gently used classic hardcover book from the 1970s or 1980s. Present it to your own little one or perch it on a shelf as old-school knickknack. Not sure it’ll go with the rest of your decor? I think it can. 
 
• “Finding the Way Home” by Marcie Shumway, $9.97
 
Quiet City dedicates premium space — an open shelf at eye level right by the door — to local authors. Among them, Marcie Shumway, a Turner writer whose 126-page paperback tells the story of a young woman returning home to Maine and struggling to deal with a secret. It’s good to support local writers, says Shopping Siren, a local writer.
 
• Loose book pages, about $3 to $5
 
Individual book pages, including illustrations from children’s stories and nursery rhymes. Great for framing and hanging in a child’s room, library or office. And perfect accompaniment to ponder this lifelong question: Whoever said Humpty Dumpty was an egg?

Best find: Sale books, $1

For less than the price of a cup of coffee, you can get a new-to-you novel, picture book, guide or young adult book. I was particularly taken with the Lonely Planet guidebook “Canada.” Because how well do we know our neighbors to the north? Really? For a buck, you can find out.

Think twice: About dismissing bookstores as obsolete

It’s been a long time since we’ve heard about a bookstore opening. If this is the beginning of a new trend, it’s the kind I can happily live with.

Shopping Siren’s true identity is protected by a pair of stylish, sweater-wearing Doberman pinschers (who take up 500 square feet just with their toys) and the Customer Service counter at the Sun Journal. You can reach her at [email protected].


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