Best of Boston

2008 Best Bookstore, North

Cornerstone Books

With tarry-awhile touches like overstuffed chairs, a fireplace, and a wee café offering bites from nearby bakery A&J King, this handsome independent shop encourages people to lose themselves in books. It’s also impressively devoted to luring them back out again, as Cornerstone regularly throws open its historic loft space for readings, live music performances, and club meet-ups (Boston’s venerable Grub Street writing program recently established its North Shore base here). Part literary salon, part community living room, the store gives bookworms the space—and a gentle nudge—to be social animals as well.

45 Lafayette St., Salem,