The Raconteur, based out of Metuchen, New Jersey, is the very model of the modern independent bookstore. It was founded in 2005, bucking the whole trend of the book industry toward large chain stores and online retailers. It has a name and logo full of panache; a very funny website; an events blog; a regular blog; a private literary society; a summer writing workshop; a slate of “oddball literary happenings” that includes pub crawls and beard-growing contests; a decor that features Hunter S. Thompson’s obituary, a piano, and a knight’s helmet; and above all, a damn fine selection of books. It even has its own motorcycle club, but that’s just gravy. This “literary sanctuary” has garnered admiring press from The New York Times and the London Guardian, among other publications, but today it receives the most coveted plaudit of all: the imprimatur of the Abbeville Manual of Style.
How do we know about this place? One of our Arbiters, the previously-uncredited Lauren Evangelista, is a frequent patron and a friend of the owner, Alex Dawson. When Lauren goes book shopping, The Raconteur is where she goes. So there’s a personal connection here, but it hardly matters; the most objective possible assessment of this store will confirm that it’s got style to spare. Hell, it even has a good prose style, as evidenced by the following excerpt from its website:
“The soul of Paris resides in its sidewalk cafes, that of London in its many pubs, Florence in its teeming piazze. The soul of central Jersey sits, wound in colored lights made from shotgun shells, high atop a shelf, squarely between a six of Gonzo Imperial Porter and a ridge-backed Rancor action figure, at The Raconteur.”
We suggest you take a peregrination to seek that soul for yourself.
P.S. At least one of our Arbiters is going to the Adult Vocabulary Bee at Chelsea Market tonight. If anyone wants to take us on, we’d love to see you there. We’ve already unloaded “plaudit,” “imprimatur,” and “peregrination” on you today; come see what else we’ve got up our sleeves. Bonus points to the Raconteur website for “poltroon.”