The Annual Trenton Books at Home Program Fund Raiser

The Annual Trenton Books at Home Program Fund Raiser has arrived. The Books at Home Program provides free books to Trenton kids and donors like you have helped make that possible. In 2013, we distributed almost ten thousand dollars in books.We hope to beat that this year.Studies show that when kids have more books in their home, they do better in school—no matter how much they are struggling. You can see one such study from 2010 as published in Science Daily here

In 2013, Classics Books were able to distribute $9,871 worth of books to Trenton students through the Books at Home Program.

Books were handed out with the help of Carver Community Center, Kids R First Daycare, Catholic Charities, Camp Read, Planned Parenthood, the Reading for Success program, Mill Hill Child and Family Development, Passage Theatre after school program, and teachers at Robbins School, the Gregory School, Foundation Academy, Washington Elementary, Trenton High School West, TCHS, Stokes Elementary, Wilson, PJ Hill, and Hedgepath.

Current major supporters include Councilwoman Marge Caldwell-Wilson and Children’s Futures.

The Trenton Books at Home Program has been recognized by the Trenton Public Education Foundation and the Isles Sprit of Community Award.

How You Can Help
If you would like to donate, here are the details.

If you would like your donation to be tax deductable

Monetary donations can be made by mailing checks or money orders to Classics, 4 West Lafayette, Trenton NJ 08608. Make the check out to our partners at Children’s Futures, Inc, with “Classics Books at Home Program” in the subject line. Children’s Futures is a 501c3 non-profit and these donations are tax deductible.

If you would like an easy way to donate (that is NOT tax deductable), donate through GoFundMe here–

Thank you for all your support!



Downtown News

The hotel across the street from the bookstore has its grand opening this week as a Wyndham! If you haven’t been inside the lobby it is very nice. Come down on a Friday night and take a look when you swing by the store.

Classics has begun to sell classic used games (Scrabble, Pictionary, Cranium, Mastermind, Trivial Pursuit, Monopoly, Outburst, Jenga). Come spice up family game night without spending $60 a game.

Photo: Who would you share this table with? Comment below and tell us! #Trenton

Fast Times and Good Finds

A guy comes into the bookstore and asks, “Do you have a paperback copy of Fast Times at Ridgemont High?”  I can’t remember ever having seen it, but we root around for a bit but can’t find it.

I thought that was weird since that movie came out 30 years ago, but whatever.

Two hours later, another guy comes in and asks for a Fast Times at Ridgemont High. And then another guy. And the next day a woman. I thought, “This is what going crazy feels like.”

The mystery was solved when we found turns out some Antiques Roadshow program mentioned that the paperback Fast Times at Ridgemont High was worth maybe $200 and bookstores often price is at $1 because it’s only a movie-tie in paperback.

You never know which book in the stacks has the golden ticket. Bookstores can’t be experts in every genre, so there’s always something that they missed.

I had a customer who grabbed a hardback Elizabeth Bowen off my shelves for $6 that turned out to be a first edition worth hundreds. After she bought the book, she gloated a bit—she knew what she had and that I had missed it.

The Bowen collector became a regular customer and a good friend. I like to think it was just the bookstore’s great selection of books and community involvement. But, at least part of it was the chance that she would find another overlooked first edition.

Fast Times

Bookstore People: Whispers and Words

Whisper is the author of the book of poetry “I Have Arrived.” When you see her at Classics, it will be the first Saturday of the month and she will be reading her poetry in the back of the store at the Capital City Open Mic.

Whisper once said, “Poetry saved my life!! It rescued me from off of that ledge! One more ounce of negative energy and I would have jumped.”

Photo: U betta werk!

Barbara is a Scrabble players’ Scrabble player. She plays on Friday nights and some Saturdays in Trenton at Classics Books, Tuesdays in Princeton and through FaceBook. A two-time Classics Tournament champion, Barbara is tough to play—but fun. She never gloats (well, almost never) and is pleasant to play if you are good or a beginner.

She is also an accomplished artist, turning parts of the bookstore into a gallery of her photos and paintings.

When you see her at Classics, she could be anywhere–at a Scrabble board, hanging her artwork or ringing up customers during the week.

Barbara’s most common quote?  “Bingo!”

Photo by Bruce Bentzman

Thank Yous from Classics Books

Thank you to Councilwoman Marge Caldwell-Wilson for your continued supportof the Books at Home Program.

Thank you to mayoral candidate  Walker M Worthy Jr. and Lisa Willever for donating five boxes of brand new kids books to the Trenton Books at Home Program, which provides free books to Trenton kids.

Thanks to the Westminster Community Life Center for their donation of $100 in store credit to the Trenton Books at Home Program.

Thank you Kelli Mitchell, Carver Community Center and Planned Parenthood for distributing books to Trenton kids in the past month.

Thank you to Todd Evans, Megan Iurilli, Barbara Keogh and Najah Mausi for hosting the monthly Capital City Open Mic, Board Games Club, Scrabble Saturdays and Trenton Knit and Stitch, respectively.

2013 Books at Home Report

In 2013, Classics Books distributed $9,871 worth of books to Trenton students through the Books at Home Program.

The Trenton Books at Home Program distributes free books to Trenton kids. Studies show that the more books a student has in their home, the better they do in school and the longer they stay in school. (See Science Daily article at

Books were handed out with the help of Carver Community Center, Kids R First Daycare, Catholic Charities, Camp Read, Planned Parenthood, the Reading for Success program, Mill Hill Child and Family Development, Passage Theatre after school program, and teachers at Robbins School, the Gregory School, Foundation Academy, Washington Elementary, Trenton High School West, TCHS, Stokes Eleementary, Wilson, PJ Hill, Hedgepath.

Current major supporters include Councilwoman Marge Caldwell-Wilson, Councilwoman Verlina Reynolds Jackson, former Trenton Mayor Douglas Palmer, and Children’s Futures.

Monetary donations can be made by bringing checks or money orders to Classics, made out to our partners at Children’s Futures. Inc, with “Classics Books at Home Program” in the subject line.
Children’s Futures is a 501c3 non-profit and these cash donations are tax deductable.


Classics in the Trenton Times

Guest opinion column about the great things in downtown Trenton in the Trenton Times–including some nice thigns to say about Classics Books, by John P. Thurber

The Times’ editorial “A love of Trenton” (Feb. 23) invites readers to add their suggestions to the list of favorite things about our capital city. Ingrid Reed initiated this list with her guest opinion article “A valentine to the city of Trenton” (Feb. 14) by focusing on the city’s historic attractions, beautiful parks, graceful architecture and important nonprofits. Eliot and Patti Daley added several community organizations in their Feb. 18 letter to the editor.

It’s great that The Times has provided this opportunity to focus on the positive aspects of Trenton. The wonderful list that’s been generated is compelling but omits an important category: Trenton’s small businesses. Trenton continues to be home to many entrepreneurs and business owners who share the creativity, persistence and resilience that enable others in the capital city to be successful.

Many of these remarkable businesses are located in downtown Trenton, easily accessible to residents and those visiting from the suburbs. There are far too many favorites to mention, but a small sampling will suggest the range and distinctive qualities of these businesses. Few of them get the attention they deserve.

For example, one of the region’s best restaurants can be found in Trenton’s downtown. Settimo Cielo on Front Street is a gem of an Italian restaurant conveniently located across from a public parking garage. The manager, Henry Mendez, and his staff provide great service and the food is consistently outstanding.

Around the corner on Warren Street is the State Barber Shop, where Joe Festa has been cutting hair for 45 years. Joe is known as the honorary mayor of Warren Street and cares deeply about the city. He is not only a great barber but one of the most positive people you’ll ever meet. You’ll walk out of his shop in a better mood than when you walked in, and you’ll look better, too.

Warren Street hosts several restaurants that are local favorites, including Checkers, Hummingbird, Downtown Deli and Café Olé. Checkers owner Tom Fowler presides over his restaurant’s grill and ensures that every burger meets his high standards. Hummingbird offers authentic Jamaican food for either eat-in or take-out. Downtown Deli makes a great sandwich and offers delicious soup for a reasonable price. Café Olé is perhaps the best coffee house in Trenton and owner Kit Rivenburg serves a tasty breakfast and lunch as well.

Nearby on Lafayette Street is Classics Used and Rare Books, where owner Eric Maywar works on projects ranging from the distribution of free books to Trenton families, weekly Scrabble tournaments, author events and open mic nights. Eric loves books but is equally committed to strengthening Trenton’s social capital through his business. And he is making a real impact.

Trenton Kebab House on East State Street near City Hall is another favorite restaurant. Offering Middle Eastern, Turkish and Indian foods, this restaurant is a welcome alternative for lunch or dinner.

A short ride down Broad Street leads you to Trenton Social, a hip restaurant, bar and lounge located across the street from the Sun National Bank Center. The building was renovated by owner Roland Pott and his partners, who shared a vision that music, the arts and entertainment could be a catalyst for the revitalization for Trenton. Today, under the management of T.C. Nelson, Trenton Social attracts a diverse crowd of artists, musicians and young professionals. You won’t find anything like it outside of Trenton.

If you’re wondering where some of the best Italian restaurants in the area get their ingredients, you can find them at Porfirio’s, which is still located on Anderson Street in Chambersburg. In the 1950s, the Porfirios were pasta makers, specializing in ravioli and gnocchi.

Today, their wholesale and retail business provides a wide range of food products for more than 100 restaurants. Their fresh pasta (including at least 10 kinds of ravioli), sausage and marinara are incredible, and you won’t find better meatballs anywhere.

The home of Italian Peoples Bakery is located nearby on Butler Street in Chambersburg. Italian Peoples Bakery serves more than 450 supermarkets, restaurants and other outlets with their products. This business dates to 1936, when Pasquale Gervasio first started baking bread; his family continues the business. It’s well worth a visit to the birthplace of this renowned bakery and deli.

These and so many other small and independent businesses in Trenton provide great reasons to love our capital city.

Those mentioned here are just an arbitrary few. So many other small businesses throughout Trenton offer equally compelling reasons to seek them out.

Trenton’s small businesses provide jobs for many residents while serving the needs of the broader community. One of the best valentines we can give Trenton is to find more ways to patronize and support these small businesses. Go enjoy your own favorites and discover new ones.

John P. Thurber is vice president for public affairs at Thomas Edison State College, a board member of the Trenton Downtown Association and board chairman of the Princeton Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Classics News Update

It was announced at Classics open mic that one of the singers that sang in January was called back for The Voice.  You heard him at Classics first!

The Classics Scrabble club (notably Tim Walker) has mounted bookcases in wheels so we can easily move it for Scrabble and for the Open Mic.  Come down and check this out!

FaceBook did a video of Classics activity.  Check this out!!/photo.php?v=10151816520737434&set=vb.660327433&type=2&theater

Friends of Classics Bruce Bentzman and Roger Long have distributed their children’s book.  Read it for free here!


The Unknown Poet and Hafeez Da Poet

The Unknown Poet and Hafeez Da Poet from the Capital Area Open Mic in Trenton, NJ at Classics Books & Gifts

Classics News

In case you haven’t been able to make it in the Classics lately, here’s what you may have missed.

16 of the best Scrabble players in the area met at the 14th Annual Classics Scrabble Invitational.  Megan Iurilli reclaimed her crown as Grand Champion, Sarah Ohls came inches of winning her third Championship and Arthur Iurilli went from being a seat filler to coming in third.

Classics Open Mic comedian McKelle Kellz Barksdale went to Florida and won the 2014 Winter Shine Overall Standup Comedian. Says Kellz “I started in a bookstore with 13 people. If that isn’t a Testament to following what God puts on your heart I don’t know what is!!!”  Guess what bookstore he was talking about?

Classics Open Mic musician Quincy Stallworth video performing one Saturday.

Shoppers at Target had hackers steal data from up to 40 million credit and debit cards during the first three weeks of the holiday season.  Shoppers at Classics Books & Gifts had no data stolen.  Shop local!

Megan Iurilli

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