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  • Writer's pictureJoe Pace

Granite State of Mind, #31: Water Street Bookstore, Exeter

Forget Disneyworld - this is the happiest place on Earth

To be a great small town, there are certain inarguable requirements. One of these is an independent bookstore, shelves groaning with national bestsellers and local offerings in equal measure, a place where the community comes for literary satiation and artistic engagement, where conversation and friendship are always in stock. As with so many other criteria, Exeter is fortunate enough to make the grade.

Water Street Bookstore is a local treasure, a gem among the jewels studding the downtown Exeter landscape. Owner Dan Chartrand has labored long and hard to make his shop an integral organ in the life of the town, woven into the fabric of the community in all the ways that matter. Book clubs, reading lists, author launches, and other events are just the tip of the iceberg - kids and families still talk about the Harry Potter midnight release parties. You can find the usual mass-market fare at Water Street, but it all shares pride of place with less-commercial entries as well, giving regional and aspiring authors access to adventurous readers and vice versa.Dan's been a wonderful partner to many independent and local authors - I know Stefany Shaheen and Mark Dagostino and Gary Patton and many others would agree. I know my own amateurish forays into authorship owe him a great deal for his support and encouragement. He's a great friend and great citizen - and he runs a heck of a business. I know I'd never launch a book anywhere else, and Water Street is a must-visit for every pilgrimage home.

I hope your small town has a place like Water Street. If it doesn't, and you're within a hundred miles of Exeter, drop by and make it your bookstore. You won't regret it.

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