Poetry’s A Star At Chatham’s Yellow Umbrella Books: A Cape Eye On Books

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The Cape is rich in the number and variety of independent books stores. It seems to me that one can’t travel 10 miles, passing from town to town without seeing one and as I visit them, I can’t help but think of how strikingly individual is the personality of each.

Walking into the Yellow Umbrella on Main Street in Chatham, a browser might feel suddenly transported to any of the book shops on London’s Charing Cross Road, or Berkeley Books in Paris or the Three Lives and Company in New York City’s West Village, or anywhere book lovers congregate.

About 80 percent of the stock is comprised of a wide range of new releases and 20 percent is old books, used and rare. There are also shelves devoted solely to poetry, which seems particularly apropos in April, which is National Poetry Month.

“You hear some booksellers say they don’t carry poetry because it doesn’t sell,” says owner Eric Linder. “Well, guess what? It doesn’t sell if you don’t have it in the store to sell.”

Drawn to the Cape in 1980, Linder came to Chatham from Chelmsford where he had operated a book store for five years. He opened Yellow Umbrella that Memorial Day and recalls the timing was perfect. He stayed up very late the night before stocking the shelves and opened the next day to holiday shoppers.

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“We have new books for literary readers and rare ones for the book collector,” says Linder who makes a great effort to search and acquire volumes that customers are excited to find, as well as carrying a wide range of contemporary novels. One customer’s memorable request: A dictionary of horology in four languages.

He recalls one woman who told him the store was her favorite in the world. “Where are you from?” he asked.

“Manhattan,” she answered.

Most stores have a story behind the name and the Yellow Umbrella is no exception. When he lived in Chelmsford, Linder and a fellow poet published a poetry engagement book that enjoyed a national distribution. The mission was to introduce people, familiarize them with, and kindle their affection for contemporary poetry. The imprint of the date book was Yellow Umbrella Press. When he arrived in Chatham, Linder brought with him the name, the shelves from his old store which still serve, and his passion for literature.

Yellow Umbrella Books, 501 Main Street, Chatham www.yellowumbrellabooks.net

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“These are all new releases from authors with good track records that I am confident in recommending,” Linder says.




“THE WATERS OF ETERNAL YOUTH” by Donna Leon: The 25th book in the Commissario Guido Brunetti mysteries, Leon is at her best in capturing the internal politics of Venice.




“THE ABUNDANCE” by Annie Dillard: “Dillard is one of my very, very favorite writers,” Linder says. This collection of 22 essays written over the past 40 years serves as a retrospective of her work





“THE EDGE OF THE ORCHARD” by Tracy Chevalier: The eighth novel by this author portrays two generations of 19th-century pioneers’ life.




“THE SUMMER BEFORE THE WAR” by Helen Simonson: Simonson’s newest, set in East Sussex in 1914 has been praised as haunting and effervescent and is the perfect solution to those missing “Downton Abbey.” A fine second novel by the author of the best-selling “Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand.”





“BRILLIANT BEACONS: A History of American Lighthouses” by Eric Jay Dolin. Dolin, the best-selling author of “Leviathan,” reframes America’s history through the development its lighthouses. It is original and illuminating from the opening pages.




Anne LeClaire

Anne LeClaire



— Anne LeClaire is the best-selling author of eight novels, the latest of which is “The Lavender Hour.” A Cape Eye On Books is CapeCod.com’s online book club.


  1. Love the Yellow Umbrella Books!

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