Newtonville Books to Mark 10th Anniversary

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This Sunday, Mary Cotton and her husband, Jamie Clarke, along with a majority of their neighbors, will be celebrating the 10th anniversary of Newtonville Books in Newton, Massachusetts. Authors Anita Diamant, Alice Hoffman, Sue Miller, Tom Perrotta, Richard Russo, Jim Shepard, and former Newtonville owner Tim Huggins will be there to mark a decade of "books and brews."

"We wanted to have a big event to celebrate," said Cotton. "And we were lucky enough to get some great authors with local ties to appear. People in the community are really excited because we usually don't have all-day author events."

Along with the day full of readings, Newtonville will host children's activities, a story time, arts activities, and a raffle of signed first editions, including The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (Junot Diaz, Riverhead). Anniversary cake, "wonderful cupcakes," and wine and cheese will be served.

Cotton, who holds an MFA from the University of Southern Maine, had worked at Newtonville Books for three years, before she and Clarke bought the store in February 2007. Cotton and Clarke, a writer and founding editor of Post Road, a Boston-based literary magazine, had planned on eventually owning their own bookstore, so they jumped at the chance to buy Newtonville when they learned Huggins planned to close it.

Cotton reported that, although it's "definitely an awakening to be a bookstore owner, things have been going really well." She noted that Newton residents are well read and supportive of small business, even during tough economic times. Some of that devotion, she believes, is generated by the bookstore's packed events calendar. In November alone Julia Glass (I See You Everywhere, Pantheon), Rick Moody (Right Livelihoods, Back Bay), and Wesley Stace (By George, Back Bay) will be stopping in to read.

Opened in 1998, the 3,000-square-foot general bookstore focuses on fiction and children's literature, and also has sections on Eastern religions, classical and Greek literature, biography, and poetry. It hosts about 100 events a year, including the popular "Books & Brew" series, where readers can drink a pint or two with visiting authors. Upcoming events include readings with Adam Braver (November 22, 1963, Tin House) and Jenna Blum (Those Who Save Us, Harvest).

Since taking over from Huggins, Cotton and Clarke have increased the number of children's books and added kids' programs, but other than that, she said they have made few changes. "Things are rolling along just fine," Cotton said. "Huggins did such a great job we could walk right into it." --Karen Schechner