Looking for a place where a friendly staff actually reads the books they sell and will suggest something other than what's on The New York Times' best-seller list? Maxwell Books has been fighting the good fight against the warehouse chain stores and cluttered used book places since 1986 and is alive and doing quite well, thanks. The selection of hardbacks, paperbacks and children's books is good, and if they don't have exactly what you're looking for, they'll order it and give you a call in a couple of days. Check the shelves for personal notes written by staffers who critique many of the books in stock. You can also choose from a good selection of magazines and greeting cards. And watch the store's schedule of visiting authors who stop in to speak, read from their works and sign autographs. Additionally, you can buy gift certificates that will be honored at other independent stores throughout the country.