The Midtown Scholar Bookstore’s existence was unknown to me before this year. The building almost blends in with its neighboring stores. It is nestled between buildings on North Third Street in Harrisburg, only a short distance from the Pennsylvania State Capitol. The green awnings resemble that of a bakery though if you take a closer look the word “book” frequently appears. Still, from the outside you would never guess that this building houses an independent café-bookstore and music and art venue, as well as a community forum.
Lots of old buildings have a cool back story and the Scholar is no exception. The building and the store and its contents have two different histories. The building was a theater in the 1920s but is now renovated to house thousands of books. The bookstore business itself has come a long way from its origins in basement of the Scholar owner’s house and now stretches out into two buildings and six floors with ample space to relax and absorb the Scholar’s atmosphere.
And what an atmosphere! Walk inside and you will never want to leave, I promise. High ceilings, beautiful staircases, the entire area covered in refurbished wood, giving it a warm, rustic aura. Built in bookshelves delve into the wood, supplying shelves upon shelves of books. Old and new, rare and used books are split into sections onvarying floors. Wooden high-top tables are randomly placed throughout the building. On the top floor, pews line a vacant corner where events and meetings take place. A bookshelf separates the meeting area from cozy chairs where readers sit, engaging in conversation about their latest reading finds.
If the ambiance is not enough to draw you in, a coffee shop is conveniently placed on the first floor. Its shelves are lined with delicious looking sweets and chalkboards are sketched with numerous beverage options.
You might expect a degree of technophobia from such a paradise of the printed word, but the Scholar also features an internet bookstore, with more than one million books to choose from. Make sure to check the Scholar’s store before ordering your books for college. Numerous universities have provided them with nonfiction academic books, some of which can’t even be found online. The broad selection of books makes research, and reading for pleasure effortless tasks. There are also a large children and young adult sections.
The book clubs they feature were my original selling point. The books they read and discuss look very interesting. The clubs meet at times that are easy for those who are busy and otherwise may not have time to go to the clubs. They offer 8 diverse book clubs. There is a book club for people of every age; adult book clubs, school age kid’s book clubs and a story hour for young children.
The clubs include:
· The Zen Group (2nd Wednesdays 7-9pm)
· Banned Books (3rd Thursdays 7-9pm)
· Harrisburg Young Professionals (4th Sundays 2-4pm)
· Middle School (6th-9th graders) Book Club (2nd and 4th Saturdays 1-2pm)
· Sci-Fi Fantasy (3rd Wednesdays 7-9pm)
· LGBT (3rd Sundays 5-7pm)
· Feminism (4th Mondays 7pm)
· Poison Pen (3rd Saturdays 5-7pm)
· Little Scholar Story Time (Every Saturday 11 AM)
Online Monthly Book Clubs
No time to go to a book club meeting in person? Join their online book club; The Scholar partners with WITF – TV/FM to choose a “Pick of the Month” book. Every month they suggest a book for you to read and an autographed copy of the book is available for purchase at the Scholar bookstore or on their online site. You also have a chance to meet the author when they come to PA! Don’t forget to check out the online podcasts for the books at the Scholar’s website.
Monthly Writer and Weekly Poetry Groups
The Scholar offers 2 writing groups and 2 poetry groups for people to share and discuss their writing.
The groups include:
· Sci-Fi Writers Group (1st Tuesday 7-9pm)
· Midtown Writers Group (3rd Sunday 2-4pm)
· Almost Uptown Poetry Cartel (Thursdays 7-9pm)
· Poetry Night at the Scholar (Fridays 7-9pm)
The Scholar is very focused on community especially through community events. They hold public and small meetings. It is not uncommon for the Scholar to host meetings for political figures, especially during campaign season. Recently, they held a public meeting on gun control and at another meeting Eric Papenfuse also made a campaign announcement. Some of their upcoming events feature presentations on healthy eating and the community event One Billion Rising, which highlights the issue of violence against women. Check out the events blog to find out what is coming up next!
Exhibitions are a common at the Scholar, and they showcase diverse artists from the area. The Yellow Wall Gallery is located on the upper level and holds gallery events for adults as well as children’s artwork. Their current exhibition is Stephen Michael Haas’s “Universal Folklore.” A reception is held in conjunction with the exhibition for people to meet the artist and see his work. Information and picture of past, present and future exhibitions can be found on the Yellow Wall Gallery website.
Music events are another experience that draws people to the Scholar. They showcase local, traveling and touring bands that play classical music, indie tunes, and pieces from singer-songwriters. Concerts take place on Friday and Saturday nights and they are always looking for new local talent!
This bookstore has everything a reader, artist, musician, foodie, or any person could want! Don’t forget to try the food and beverages for sale at their café! Visit the Midtown Scholar Bookstore website to discover more about the bookstore and their upcoming events. You can also find them on Facebook and Twitter.
Monday – Thursday: 8am – 9pm
Friday – Saturday: 8am – 10pm