Bookworms, assemble! We’re taking a look at some of the most fabulous independent bookstores in the United States. Though they run the gamut from cozy and cluttered to spacious and bright, they do happen to have one very important thing in common: They’re all well worth a visit.
Pack up your favorite tote with reading glasses, bookmarks, and pens because we’re about to visit eight of the coolest bookstores in the country.
Brooklyn, New York
Tucked into the leafy Fort Greene neighborhood of Brooklyn lies Greenlight Bookstore, a gem of a shop with big street-facing windows and a wide selection of new and old reads. While the space is certainly tight — sans charming reading nooks, for example — there’s a strong neighborhood vibe here that more than makes up for the coziness. Not to mention that there are a plethora of weekly reading events and gatherings held in the large front room.
The best local bookstores are those that have been around for decades, acting both as a time capsule and a lighthouse for generations of readers. For many Chicagoans, no shop better embodies that vibe than Unabridged, an unpretentious LGBTQ+ bookstore that’s been operating in the city’s Boystown gayborhood since the 1980s. Though the focus here is on queer lit, there are a plethora of reads available for all different kinds of readers.
Charleston, West Virginia
With its lofty ceilings and original brick walls, Taylor Books is a rustic haven for bibliophiles in the West Virginia capital of Charleston. Boasting not only a bookstore, but also a café, coffee shop, and art gallery, the expansive space is a one-stop-shop for all your cultural needs. A fun bonus? The store’s Annex Studio offers a myriad of classes open to visitors and locals alike.
St. Louis, Missouri
Founded in 1969, Left Bank Books is the oldest and largest independently run bookstore in all of St. Louis. Though the history is certainly prodigious, it’s the welcoming and knowledgeable staff that keeps customers coming back time and time again. It also doesn’t hurt that the store puts a focus on amplifying diverse voices, which is a big plus in our opinion.
Looking for a bookstore that delivers good reads with a hefty dose of southern charm? Then Dickson Street Books in Fayetteville may just be the spot for you. The beloved shop is a fixture in the community, serving as a beacon for many in the town’s entertainment district. Whether you come to sell old books or to find new ones, this deliciously cluttered store is sure to feel like home.
Lovingly referred to as the “Opera House” by locals (thanks in large part to it being housed in an abandoned and supposedly haunted opera house), Recycled Books is a must-see for folks traveling through North Texas. With a plethora of pathways and levels, this is definitely a shop you can get lost in, which is a big part of its enduring appeal.
Los Angeles, California
If bright and airy is more your speed, consider checking out The Last Bookstore in LA. Spanning two floors and over 22,000 square feet, the selection of used and new books here is massive and sure to satisfy every stray literary itch. Think Bohemian meets Victorian parlor meets bookstore of your dreams and you almost land on the stylish aesthetic at play here. Oh, and there’s also a yarn shop inside, which is like goodness piled on top of goodness.
Literally housed in an old grist mill along the banks of the Sawmill River, the Montague Book Mill is one of the most unusual bookstores in the country and therefore more than worthy of a visit. Tables, plush reading chairs, stools, and pillows populate the crowded floors, providing ample space to curl up with a good book, whether for an hour or an entire afternoon. Also, that storefront is just begging to be ‘grammed.
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