Fortunately for us bookworms, the United States are filled from Maine to California with bookstores. Some of these little shops are not only brimming with books, but filled with a punch of character as well. From author events to resident store cats, these five independents would inspire bookish excitement in the hearts of even the most begrudging reader. All offer up a unique spin on classic book buying, and vary in their specialties from out of print to indie to secondhand. It’s a bucket list to end all bucket lists, and one that is in no way comprehensive.This is merely a look at the five oh-so-hip locales I personally am dying to visit. As always (maybe even more so in this case!) I would love to here what you think of my list and which bookstores you feel are most worth the journey for!
- Powell’s Books- Portland, Oregon
Right from the get-go I’m starting with Powell’s Books, a.k.a heaven on earth for readers. Every bibliophile whose made the esential pilgrimage will tell you what a one of a kind place this Portland, Oregon staple is. Claiming to be the largest independent, new, and used bookstore in the world (and boy do I believe it), Powell’s occupies an entire city block, contains 68,000 sq. feet of retail space, and buys about 3,000 used books a day. While those numbers are staggering and astounding, it’s the heart of the store that’s propelled it to bookworm notoriety. Often offering three events a day, from author signings to writer workshops to a discussion forum entitled We Were Feminists. The latter reminds me of the quirky satire Portlandia and is exactly the kind of free wheeling, liberal attitude Powell’’s home city is known for. And in case you haven’t already booked a plane ticket to the Pacific Northwest, here’s a vlog of one booktuber’s tour of the store. Watch it here!
- The Booksmith- San Francisco, California
As I was researching independent book stores in preparation for writing this post (thanks Buzzfeed for your totally awesome compilation, read it here!) I stumbled across The Booksmith. Located in the Haight, this hip reading nook is perfect for both San Framcisco residents and tourists looking to get their literary game on. The Booksmith is relatively new, having just opened in 2008, but nonetheless has already managed to leave a serious impact on the Bay City. Owner Christin Evans considers herself a literary entrepreuner (a title I wouldn’t mind one day holding) and her impact hasn’t stopped at the city’s reading scene. She is heavily involved with promoting independent writers, as Evans also co-hosts Berkeley Arts & Letters, now the East Bay’s most successful author event series. However not only is the owner of The Booksmith totally rad (or whatever they say in NoCal) but the staff of 1644 Haight Street is an eclectic group of people united through reading. All of which, according to Yelp, are sure to color your bookish experience in more vividly.
- Anderson’s Bookshop- Naperville, Illinois
I might be a little biased with this one, being so close to my home and all, but this list would not be complete without Anderson’s Bookshop making an appearance! And while thsi Naperville, Illinois based locale is great for the same reasons all bookish spots are (books, books, and more books), I feel it offers a little something extra for us voracious readers that so love to be around the atmosphere of reading. Put in much less coy terms: Anderson’s is all about the community behind literature. Be it their book clubs -from Mother/Daughter to childrens to adults and beyond- or their great author events (how I would love to meet Sarah J. Maas this month) they know nothing connects our niche better than those beautiful pages of words. Also, a special shput out to those crazy cool summer camps they host every year for kids. I would’ve loved “If You Give A Kid a Camp” or “Camp Magic Tree House”, and I’d totally be lying if I said the thought of “Camp Divergent” and “The Camp That Shall Not Be Named” wasn’t an enticing one.
- The Poisoned Pen- Scottsdale, Arizona
For the most part I’ve kept the beginnings of this list neutral. Sure some shops may lean a little more in the direction of out of print editions, or swing exclusively towards new releases; but as a whole only the ficklest of readers would leave those independents with a sour taste in their mouth. The Poisoned Pen however, caters to a very particular bookworm. A bookworm interested in all shapes and sizes of mystery. One may wonder how Scottsdale’s resident niche shop manages to stay open for 25 years, but I would say the intrigue is solved simply by reading their tagline: “Your local bookstore, no matter where you live”. This hometown feel is carried through in all facets of Barbara J. Peters pride and joy, as The Poisoned Pen is known for being a place of relaxation, enjoyment, and a little secrecy now and again. Another thing worth noting is their entirely too unique book clubs, an ever growing list that includes: British Crime Club, First Mystery Club, Hardboiled Crime Club, and History/Mystery Club among others.
Have you been to any of these fantastic little shops? What did you think? Any others I HAVE to check out? Let me know in the comments!
-Keep Calm and Read On