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Saturday, 23 June 2007

Secret Boston - The Unique Guidebook to Boston’s Hidden Sites, Sounds, & Tastes

Written by Sasha Didier
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book coverWhether you are a seasoned Boston local or a weekend visitor, Laura Purdom’s Guidebook Secret Boston - The Unique Guidebook to Boston’s Hidden Sites, Sounds, & Tastes, is sure to open your eyes to new and interesting pieces of history and hidden gems of the city.  From “Accent” to “Yoga,” she takes the reader on an alphabetical journey off the beaten track through elements of history, food, entertainment, and lifestyles.


Making her way through the historic African museums, Boston architecture, famous bakeries, and the Big Dig, Purdom discusses the famous cemeteries in Boston, including Forest Hills (Ezra Pound), Old Granary Burying Ground (Samuel Adams, Paul Revere), and Sleepy Hollow Cemetery (Thoreau).  She transitions into information on community boating in the Charles River: sailing, canoeing, kayaking, rowing, and windsurfing as well as Boston’s infamous duck tours.  She continues on the alphabetical theme to reveal top Chinatown restaurants, “Chocolate and Coffee” (Lists of famous bakeries and cafes), “City Views” (Top of the Prudential Tower, Bunker Hill Monument, etc.), and cycling routes throughout and surrounding the city.


Diners and “Dog Days” are next, where she lists a dog bakery in Somerville “Fi-Dough,” and dog parks: Blue Hills Reservation, Middlesex Fells and Fresh Pond Park.  Then on to “Fenway,” and “Folk,” for which she suggests: Boston Bluegrass Union, Sandy's Music (Mass Ave.), Cantab Lounge (Tues. night Bluegrass), Johnny D’s (Somerville), and Club Passim (Harvard Sq: known for famous folk).


Purdom guides the reader through Boston fruit markets, green spaces, ice cream, ice-skating, industrial history, and all things Irish.  Then she lists a variety of venues offering jazz and blues, some of which include the Lizard Lounge (Porter sq.), Ryles (also offering Latin dance), Wally’s, Midway Café (JP), and Boston Blues Society.


She introduces theatre by focusing on Boston’s independent theatres.  “Every American city has its industriplex movie mall featuring butter-flavored popcorn and Hollywood-flavored films.  But only Boston (the Cambridge part) has the Brattle.” In addition to the Brattle, Boston’s independent theatres include Coolidge Corner Theatre, Harvard Film Archive, MFA, Kendall Square Cinema, and the Wang Center (shows classic films). 


Moving on to a different kind of theatre, Purdom boasts about Boston’s theatre district, while referencing the American Institute of Architects as once describing it as “the most outstanding group of early theatres in the country.”  Describing the hidden resplendent theatre scene in Boston, she points us to quality theatres where some of the city’s 60 theatres companies perform.  These include Market Street Theatre, American Repertory Theatre, Huntington Theatre Company, Loeb Drama Center, Commonwealth Shakespeare Company, and the Publick Theatre.


Secret Boston winds down with topics such as “Things that Go” (Transportation Systems), “20th century artifacts” (a list of obscure antique shops throughout the city), “Vegetarian” (a selection of quality vegan/vegetarian restaurants), and “Yoga.”  Purdom includes a photo index, subject index, and alphabetical index at the end for easier navigation.  Overall, this book is a very unique city guide to sites, tastes, and activities for anyone who is ready to try something new.  Not a typical tourist handbook, “Secret Boston” offers a glimpse into uncovered territory, and is bound to provide locals with new discoveries.


Secret Boston- The Unique Guidebook to Boston’s Hidden Sites, Sounds, & Tastes, Secret Guides, ECW Press, $14.95


©Sasha Didier

Last modified on Sunday, 16 December 2012

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