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Nestled next to the Fox River is a new business, Reads by the River. The combination book store and gift shop is located at 102 East Main St. in Historic Downtown Waterford, not far from the Waterford Public Library. Bookworms, scholars, teachers, tourists, and community members now have a spot to shop small while expanding their knowledge, page by page.

Summer hits

This summer, books have been flying off the shelves. Crowd favorites have included:

  • “The Summer I Turned Pretty” series by Jenny Han (Simon & Schuster)
  • “The Priory of the Orange Tree” by Samantha Shannon (Bloomsbury USA)
  • “Where the Crawdads Sing” by Delia Owens (Penguin Publishing Group)
  • “The River” by Peter Heller (Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group)
  • “The Foundling” by Ann Leary (Scribner / Marysue Rucci Books)
  • “This Time Tomorrow” by Emma Straub (Penguin Publishing Group)
  • “Lessons in Chemistry” by Bonnie Garmus (Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group)

Local authors

In addition to carrying all the latest and greatest finds, the store serves as a place for locals to share their stories. Reads by the Rivers carries the following, all written by Wisconsin and Illinois locals:

For adults

For children

Reads by the River
With a lovely and inviting decor, Reads by the River offers a space both young and old alike will love to inhabit for a few minutes or even a few hours. – Credit: Kelly Klein

Reads by the River is truly a place for locals by locals. Behind the business is another local that you just can’t miss.

Meet the owners

Reads by the River is owned and operated by Kelly Klein. She’s been in the Waterford area for 22 years. It’s been the community where she has also raised her children and now is watching her business grow. Alongside her through it all is her husband, Steve, another main character.

Since a young girl, Klein knew that owning a bookstore would be a part of her story. In November of 2021, her dream became a non-fiction anecdote in a chapter of her life. She says, “I’ve loved books and reading since I was a little girl. My mom and I spent hours in bookstores together when I was growing up.”

She’s dabbled in a few areas of the arts and education. Klein was a special education teacher for 11 years. In addition to that, she had her own photography business for over 10 years. The combination of being a previous business owner and an educator set the perfect foundation for Reads by the River.

To go hand in hand with Kelly’s dream was Steve’s ability to bring it to life. He’s an all-hands-on-deck kind of guy and has shown utmost support to help turn her vision into a functioning space.

“He is the person responsible for so many of the things that people gush about when they walk in – the kids’ cottage, the ceiling, the lighting, the flooring – he designed and built all of it himself,” exclaims Kelly.

You can find him at the store helping her, in addition to another part-time employee and friend, who help to run the shop.

More than books

With a great selection of books for all ages, and in a wide variety of genres, Klein is hoping to get others to fall madly in love with books and reading. Her storefront is about more than just turning the pages, it’s about building a connection with the community and developing their stories.

Reads by the River
Reads by the River offers so much more than books. Gifts, knick-knacks and other items can be purchased here as well, but the best “extra” part is the connections they build within the community. – Credit: Kelly Klein

“We carry so much more than books, too,” states Klein. “We have puzzles, games, teas and treats, many unique gift items and so much more. We host a wide variety of events for kids and adults and we love to collaborate with our fellow business owners.”

While Reads by the River is a place to grab those books and knick-knacks, it’s also a hub for the community. The space offers a chance to find what you’re looking for but also focuses on helping you find what you didn’t know was missing. It may be a connection, interaction, story, or conversation.

Store hours

Coming to shop? The storefront is open to purchase goodies, items, and more on the following days and times:

  • Monday. . . . . . Closed
  • Tuesday. . . . . . 10 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
  • Wednesday. . . .10 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
  • Thursday. . . . . Noon – 7 p.m.
  • Friday. . . . . . . . 10 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
  • Saturday. . . . . .10 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
  • Sunday. . . . . . .11 a.m. – 2 p.m.


Parking is available in two locations:

  1. In front: On the bridge adjacent to the store
  2. Behind the building: Enter the parking lot via 2nd Street, then drive all the way to the end of the lot; you will see a sign on the building directing you to the front entrance.

Perhaps you don’t have time to get lost in the pages at the bookstore. Visit to search for books, place an order and pick it up in the shop. Reads by the River also offers gift cards and options for audiobooks for customers.

Books for Schools program

Klein offers the following discount for educators and librarians:

  • 20% off for teachers & librarians ordering for their school
  • 20% off includes new books in-store, online, and most book orders

Want more details about this offer? Email for more details

Reads by the River
Reads by the River owner, Kelly Klein, offers discounts for schools and librarians. – Credit: Emma Widmar

Community connection

Reads by the River aims to collaborate with other businesses in Waterford and the surrounding area and through various events. Recently, they’ve hosted a Teacher Appreciation Night event and even a Bookstore Romance Day.

Upcoming events for the store include daytime and evening book clubs. All events can be found on the Events section on their website.

“We pride ourselves on being a positive, welcoming, comfortable environment,” says Klein.

Want to connect? Find them on Facebook or Instagram or stop by the shop to see it for yourself.

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