Jeff Deutsch at Harvard Book Store


In Praise of Good Bookstores

in conversation with SHUCHI SARASWAT


April 11, 2022
7:00 PM ET


Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138


This event is free; no tickets are required.

Harvard Book Store welcomes JEFF DEUTSCH—director of Chicago’s Seminary Co-op Bookstores—for a discussion of his book In Praise of Good Bookstores. He will be joined in conversation by AGNI editor and former bookseller SHUCHI SARASWAT.

About In Praise of Good Bookstores

Do we need bookstores in the twenty-first century? If so, what makes a good one? In this beautifully written book, Jeff Deutsch—the director of Chicago’s Seminary Co-op Bookstores, one of the finest bookstores in the world—pays loving tribute to one of our most important and endangered civic institutions. He considers how qualities like space, time, abundance, and community find expression in a good bookstore. Along the way, he also predicts—perhaps audaciously—a future in which the bookstore not only endures, but realizes its highest aspirations.

In exploring why good bookstores matter, Deutsch draws on his lifelong experience as a bookseller, but also his upbringing as an Orthodox Jew. This spiritual and cultural heritage instilled in him a reverence for reading, not as a means to a living, but as an essential part of a meaningful life. Central among Deutsch’s arguments for the necessity of bookstores is the incalculable value of browsing—since, when we are deep in the act of looking at the shelves, we move through space as though we are inside the mind itself, immersed in self-reflection.

In the age of one-click shopping, this is no ordinary defense of bookstores, but rather an urgent account of why they are essential places of discovery, refuge, and fulfillment that enrich the communities that are lucky enough to have them.

Praise for In Praise of Good Bookstores

“Utterly fascinating.” ―Dave Eggers

“Jeff Deutsch is one of the most learned and passionate booksellers in America, and this profound and poetic book yields as many untold wonders as his impeccably curated store.” ―Ada Calhoun, New York Times bestselling author of St. Marks Is Dead

“Deutsch’s long experience as a bookseller and a reader―that is to say, as someone on both sides of the counter―has allowed him to produce an entertaining, richly intelligent book on an institution that is essential to a literate society.” ―Alberto Manguel, author of A History of Reading

Jeff Deutsch
Jeff Deutsch

Jeff Deutsch

Jeff Deutsch is the director of Chicago’s Seminary Co-op Bookstores, which in 2019 he helped incorporate as the first not-for-profit bookstore whose mission is bookselling. He lives in Chicago.

Shuchi Saraswat
Shuchi Saraswat

Shuchi Saraswat

Shuchi Saraswat is a writer based in Boston. For ten years she worked as an independent bookseller in New England. In 2018 she founded the Transnational Literature Series at Brookline Booksmith and served as its director through 2020. She's now an assistant editor and a co-nonfiction editor at the literary journal AGNI.

Photo Credit: AbdoulNasser Mika

Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138

Walking from the Harvard Square T station: 2 minutes

As you exit the station, reverse your direction and walk east along Mass. Ave. in front of the Cambridge Savings Bank. Cross Dunster St. and proceed along Mass. Ave for three more blocks. You will pass Au Bon Pain, JP Licks, and TD Bank. Harvard Book Store is located at the corner of Mass. Ave. and Plympton St.

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