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Stanza Books: A Welcoming Space for Writers and Thinkers


By Zoe Perzo

Andrea Talarico runs Stanza Books with her partner Mark Harris. This cozy general bookstore in Beacon, New York, covers about 900 square feet and offers all manner of books and events. I sat down with Talarico to learn more about Stanza’s origin, operation, and goals.

Though Stanza Books only opened last year, Talarico is no stranger to bookstores.

“This is the second bookstore that I’ve been fortunate enough to run,” she told me. “In the late aughts, I owned Anthology New and Used Books in Scranton, Pennsylvania. I’ve worked for all the big chain bookstores and several of New York’s finest indies…I believe bookselling is a calling for some, and feel lucky enough to count myself among those who do.”

Before she and Harris opened Stanza Books, they sat down and created a plan for the store. Armed with that information, they were able to find a location that met their goals — Beacon, New York. 

“We relocated from Brooklyn to Beacon to manifest this dream, and here we are, hiring our first employees and packing our events calendar for the coming months,” Talarico said.

The pair splits work around the store evenly, their strengths complementing each other. For example, Harris’ background in experience design meant he was well prepared to take charge of the physical space. Other things, like curation and inventory, are shared, with responsibilities broken up by genre. 

In addition to selling inventory from the Big Five, Stanza Books also has a publishing branch! Talarico and Harris were writers long before they opened Stanza, and they felt it was important to include that aspect of themselves in their business. 

“Many or most writers struggle with aligning their lifestyles to the work of writing, so we set up a foundation for ourselves where we could feel totally aligned,” Talarico explained. “Mark and I dreamed up Stanza as a part of a life that we wanted to form around books: the reading, writing, and selling of them. By offering a publishing arm to our business, we get the chance to offer a platform to some of the many writers we work with, as well as a place to house some of our own work.”

That love of writing and supporting writers also influences Stanza Books’ events. In May, the bookstore will be launching a series of writing workshops where “readers can not only discuss works in progress, but will have an author present at the event who can answer publishing-related industry questions.”

Stanza also offers a regular lineup of story hours, books clubs, and author discussions. And there are a few book launches that Talarico is particularly excited about, including Danny Goodman’s Amerikaland and Jason Koo’s No Rest in June, and Elisa Albert’s The Snarling Girl, in August.

Eventually, Talarico would love to expand into a space with a stage for events like these (and more space and parking couldn’t hurt). But the current space is serving them well. 

In the meantime, Talarico said “we’ll continue to grow our audience of impassioned readers to help us toward that end.”

Talarico credits her grandmother, Helen, for her drive and passion. Her grandmother had arrived here with her own parents as refugees, and eventually married Talarico’s grandfather. Together, they ran a real estate business for almost 50 years.

“I’m proud to be a Lebanese-American business owner, just like my grandmother.” Talrico said. “[She] was shrewd, and had an almost uncanny head for business. She showed me that it was possible to make my own way in the world, and she did it all while remaining an active and charitable community member and a grandmother, mother, and wife. I honor her legacy by carrying as many Arab and Arab-American authors as our small space and particular curation will allow.”

“Over Christmas, a customer who is also Lebanese-American brought me her homemade mujadara, and tasting it brought tears to my eyes,” she recalled. “The Lebanese practice an almost radical form of hospitality, which is exactly what I’m trying to achieve at Stanza — a welcoming space for writers and thinkers.”

If you find yourself in Beacon, stop by Stanza Books to browse or for an event. You can also visit their websiteFacebook, or Instagram to learn more!