The Best Bookstores in All 50 States + DC

Like every reader, we Book Rioters love a good bookstore. (I even planned my cross-country move last fall around the bookstores I wanted to visit.) And we LOVE a good bookstore list. Best bookstores in small towns! Best bookstores with a cafe! Best bookstore cats and/or dogs! Best bookstores in terrible towns! The bookstore lists are endless. And the mother of all bookstore lists is the inevitable “best bookstore in every state” list, which every book/travel adjacent site has produced. But these lists tend to rely on algorithms using Yelp ratings or TripAdvisor reviews, which can be a total crapshoot and really tell you nothing about the experience of visiting the store yourself.

How knowledgeable are the booksellers? What’s the selection like? Are there great events? Is the bookstore part of the community? These are the things that matter to indie bookstore shoppers, and algorithms just miss some of that nuance. And really, there is no “best” bookstore, a quantitative term for a subjective feeling.

I asked Rioters from across the country to tell me their favorite bookstores in every state (plus Washington, DC!) and why they love it so much. I limited it to three bookstores in each state, except for California, which got four, and New York, which got an extra spot for a non-NYC shop, and Illinois, which got an extra non-Chicago shop. Where there isn’t Rioter’s name listed, I did a little crowdsourcing from my bookish community. I know you’ll have opinions on what made the list and what didn’t, so tell us in the comments which stores are your favorites.

Alabama

  • Page and Palette, Fairhope: This store has been open for almost 50 years and has books, coffee, and now a wine bar and event space called The Book Cellar. Friendly staff, wonderful space, great book selection, and even literary-themed cocktails: what more could you want?(Kathleen Keenan)

 

Alaska

  • Fireside Books, Palmer: A cozy bookshop that boasts author Eowyn Ivey as a former bookseller, Fireside is a local favorite that sells both new and used books in a small but welcoming space where regulars are often greeted by name and a recommendation.

Arizona

  • Antigone Books, Tucson: Not only does this book have an amazing name, but it is also the first of its kind: a completely solar-powered, feminist bookstore. They hold awesome events, host book clubs for all kinds, and probably have the best onsite lesbian romance section in the state, no lie. (Jessica Pryde)
  • Changing Hands, Tempe/Phoenix: This was my first neighborhood indie and the first indie bookstore I ever worked for, but even if it wasn’t it should still be on this list. They have a great selection, amazing staff, killer events, and now A WINE BAR. (Jenn Northington)
  • Poisoned Pen, Scottsdale: A great, great genre-focused book store with some of the best author events you’ll see in Arizona. (Nikki VanRy)

Arkansas

  • Nightbird Books, Fayetteville: In the heart of downtown Fayetteville, Nightbird is a bookstore slash coffee shop slash bakery slash aviary (seriously, they’ve got an actual bird room). But the real draw is the fantastic atmosphere and the small but well-curated book selection.

California

  • Vroman’s Bookstore, Pasadena: It boasts a large selection of books spread over two stories, a space for readings and signings, a stellar stationery and fine writing department, and spaces to host book clubs.(Patricia Elzie)
  • BookWorks PG, Pacific Grove: A beautiful bookshop and cafe with a great selection of books and other bookish goodies—everything a bookshop should be. (Jen Sherman)
  • The Ripped Bodice, Culver City/LA: This romance-focused bookstore is great for romance newbies and aficionados alike! They have a great selection of all genres and heat levels, and also feature YA and feminist nonfiction, lots of bookish goodies but that’s not all – they have the best events, from your typical author talks and signings to romance writing workshops and fun social events for feminist, romance-loving people. (Molly Wetta)
  • Skylight Books, Los Angeles: Small with a good selection of books you never knew you needed to have. The staff is well read, and the store has wonderful events. (Wallace Yovetich)

Colorado

  • Tattered Cover, Denver: Tattered Cover manages to be simultaneously huge and yet so cozy. They’ve got a great selection and comfy chairs scattered throughout so the minute you find a good book to read—and it’ll only take a minute for one to catch your eye—you’ll be able to immediately plop down and page through. (Emma Nichols)
  • Bookbar, Denver: Classy ass wine and bar, great books and staff. (Nikki VanRy)
  • Old Firehouse Books, Fort Collins: New and used books, housed in a charming historic firehouse. (Tasha Brandstatter)

Connecticut

  • Byrd’s Books, Bethel: A sense of community is what gives this small shop its heart. I feel like Norm from Cheers (did I just date myself with that reference?) when I walk through the doors. They come to really know their patrons and their literary tastes. (Elizabeth Allen)
  • The Hickory Stick Bookshop, Washington Depot: A comprehensive bookstore with a great small town New England feel and an amazing children’s section. Also has the distinct honor of being the bookstore in the town that inspired Gilmore Girls’ Stars Hollow. Rory would approve! (Elizabeth Allen)
  • Books on the Common, Ridgefield: For a relatively small store, Books on the Common has a wonderful variety of books, including small press and lesser-known titles. Its children’s section is wonderful. (Rebecca Hussey)

Delaware

  • Browseabout Books, Rehoboth Beach: This beachy bookstore holds an amazing array of books. Once you pass the tables of beach souvenirs, the rest of the store holds an extensive collection, sure to satisfy your particular reading preferences. (Karina Glaser)

District of Columbia

  • Kramer Books & Afterwords Cafe: Kramer’s is pretty close to my platonic ideal of a bookstore. Shelves crammed full of interesting books and displays that will keep you plenty busy — plus one of the best menus in DC. When I lived around the corner, I would often stop in for dinner and never ever walked out without a book. They’ve recently expanded into the space next door and it’s great to see them grow in a city that has seen all of its big box bookstores close. (Rachel Manwill)
  • Politics and Prose: I’d be incapable of counting the many happy hours I’ve spent browsing here, the delicious lattes from the coffee shop, and the author events, both small and friendly in-store and more high profile elsewhere in DC. (Claire Handscombe)
  • Busboys & Poets: This local chain is a combination of bookstore, eatery, and gathering place. It’s owned by a POC who champions both social literacy and social justice. (Jessica Pryde)

Florida

  • Books & Books, Miami and Coral Gables: Books & Books opened its doors in 1982 in a beautiful historic (1927) building in Coral Gables, and since then has opened several other locations around South Florida, and even one in Grand Cayman. Their focus on bringing in authors from around the world as well as showcasing local authors and artists has made them a fixture in both South Florida and the book world, and they’ve even got their foot in the world of food and wine with frequent culinary gatherings and wine tastings. (Kristina Pino)

  • The Bookstore in the Grove, Coconut Grove: Coconut Grove is the oldest continuously inhabited neighborhood in Miami, going all the way back to 1825. Right in the middle of this amazing neighborhood you find The Bookstore, which opened in 2007 with the intention of becoming an integral part of the Coconut Grove community. You can easily say that they have achieved their goal. Here you find an amazing selection of books, author events, kids programs, a restaurant that uses organic, locally grown ingredients, and a bar that serves local craft beers. There’s even Happy Hour. (E.H. Kern)
  • Sundog Books, Seaside: Seaside is a wonderful community with gorgeous homes on the panhandle and waking up every morning and walking to the beach in this dream place is only made even more magical by getting to stop at an independent, family owned bookstore to select your beach read for the day. (Jamie Canaves)

Georgia

  • Avid Bookshop, Athens: Okay, so, I have never actually been to this store, but I first discovered them on Twitter, and I was so impressed with their pictures and staff recommendations, I fell in love with them. I have ordered things to be mailed to my house, and hope to one day visit in person! (Liberty Hardy)

Hawaii

  • Basically Books, Hilo: It is an indie that not only features tons of local authors but local artists as well. It’s a little touristy but it’s still a super awesome place, and it smells like the ocean and flowers. (Kristen McQuinn)

Idaho

  • Rediscovered Books, Boise: When I moved to Boise about seven months ago, I was desperate to find a bookish community. Rediscovered is Boise’s only indie bookstore and between its central downtown location, its incredible staff, and its busy events calendar, it is sure to have a long life. Plus it has a great rewards program and you can find all the books being read by local book clubs on a wall right inside the front door. (Rachel Manwill)

Illinois

  • Unabridged Bookstore, Chicago: Unabridged Bookstore boasts a large selection and a variety of genres, including an LGBTQ section, a basement filled with travel guides, and (a recent edition) a bookshelf of resistance books. It even includes a discount section filled with some relatively recent releases. (Rincey Abraham)
  • Babbitt’s Books, Normal: Babbitt’s Books may be in a town called Normal, but the store itself is anything but! Babbitt’s focuses on amazing and unique novels and games. As an added bonus, its Instagram is a book lover’s dream. (Kristen Twardowski)
  • Anderson’s Bookstore, Naperville, Downer’s Grove, and La Grange: This group of booksellers know what they’re doing. They are clued into their particular neighborhood demographics, and they do a particularly amazing job in their children’s book section! (Karina Glaser)
  • Women & Children First, Chicago: Fierce feminist bookstore with a cozy, colorful rug in the children’s section. Need I say more? (Ashley Holstrom)

Indiana

  • Indy Reads Books, Indianapolis: Not only is this the only bookstore in downtown Indianapolis, but part of the proceeds go towards Indy Reads, a not-for-profit organization aimed at improving and promoting literacy in Central Indiana. (Sophia Khan)
  • Boxcar Books, Bloomington: Boxcar may not be the fanciest bookstore in town, but it’s a town favorite. Selling new and used books, Boxcar is a non-profit kept afloat by volunteer commitment. In addition to supporting local zines and authors and offering a free community event space, Boxcar coordinates the awesome Pages to Prisoners program. (Amy Diegelman)

Iowa

  • Prairie Lights, Iowa City: If you’ve never been to Iowa City then you may be surprised to learn that our seemingly little indie, Prairie Lights, is consistently ranked as one of the best bookstores in the country. You’ll find all the bestsellers here along with shelves specifically dedicated to graduates of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Add to that the coffee shop that makes the best mocha I’ve ever had in my life – and also offers up wine, local beers, and tasty quiche – and you’ve found yourself a great way to spend an afternoon. (Tracy Shapley)

Kansas

  • Rainy Day Books, Mission: This Kansas City suburban bookstore has the best staff! They are so knowledgeable and have even helped this seasoned readers’ advisor discover new books. They also coordinate awesome author events. (Molly Wetta)
  • The Raven Book Store, Lawrence: What started as a tiny mystery bookstore is now a thriving college-town indie bookstore that spans all genres. They host a Big Tent series where local writers do readings, and you gotta love Ngaio and Dashiell, the bookstore cats! (Rachel Smalter Hall)

  • Watermark Books & Cafe, Wichita: This hidden gem in an old cow town is a great bookstore that hosts lots of book clubs and great author events. It’s so much more intimate and browseable than a Barnes & Noble and the cafe is wayyy better than a Starbucks. (Molly Wetta)

Kentucky

  • Joseph-Beth Booksellers, Lexington: A really neat bookstore that looks a little big box from the outside (in that it’s real big and in a mall), but feels magical inside. A great readin’ patio for when it’s nice out. (Susie Rodarme)
  • Carmichael’s Bookstore (and Carmichael’s Kids), Louisville: This small indie (named for founders Carol Besse and Michael Boggs) is a staple of the hip Highlands area. An additional location and a dedicated Kids’ store (just down the street) have given local book nerds welcome options for gathering and shopping with their fellow readers in the ‘Ville. (Josh Corman)

Louisiana

  • Maple Street Book Shop, New Orleans: This is a vibrant and cozy book shop that puts on a lot of great author events. (It also has a lovely porch with rocking chairs.) (Kristen Twardowski)

Maine

  • Print: A Bookstore, Portland: Owned by two longtime booksellers, this wonderful indie is only five months old. But I have already made the hour drive from my house to visit it several times, because of their amazing selection and for their amazing roster of events. (Liberty Hardy)
  • Hello Hello Books, Rockland: Tucked in behind a cafe, Hello Hello is little, but it be fierce! An adorable store with a great selection, delightful sidelines, and an owner with a big heart. (Liberty Hardy)

Maryland

  • The Annapolis Bookstore: This two-story magical bookstore sells both used and new books and specializes in classics, children’s books, and maritime titles. With plenty of cozy reading spots, including a secret garden, it’s easy to spend hours here getting lost in good stories and bookish conversations. (Alison Doherty)
  • Curious Iguana, Frederick: Frederick is Maryland’s version of Star’s Hollow and the Iguana is the perfect little small town bookstore to go in it. The staff is amazing — I’ve never left without a book they’ve hand-sold to me — and it routinely hosts events that demonstrate its commitment to diversity of all kinds. (Rachel Manwill)

  • The Ivy Bookshop, Baltimore: A gorgeous bookstore with awesome displays and a whole section with books by local authors. They have a gorgeous kid’s sections with shelf talkers and great recommendations. (Karina Glaser)

Massachusetts

  • Brookline Booksmith, Brookline: This is my version of church. Literally, whenever I visit my Boston friends, I say, “Can we go to church?” They always know what I mean. One of the most comfortable, beautiful, and well-designed/curated bookstores I’ve ever been to (and I’ve been to a lot). The Smith (in local parlance) is one of the Boston area’s best and it’s probably a good thing I don’t live near it because I would spend all my money and time there. (Rachel Manwill)
  • Yellow Umbrella Books, Chatham: The name of this store is as charming as the house in which it resides. Yellow Umbrella has been in business since 1980 and their incredible selection of rare collectible books is the heart of this bookstore. (Elizabeth Allen)
  • Porter Square Books, Boston: The lovely staff lets me host the Read Harder Boston Book Club and they recently helped me spend way too much money on buying baby books for my boyfriend’s soon-to-be-birthed niece. While there’s no dedicated romance section, I’m always happy to see a Lisa Kleypas on their shelves. Packed with books and everyone is incredibly helpful! Plus, it has a cute cafe if you like to sip on some coffee while you browse. (Amanda Diehl)

Michigan

  • Brilliant Books, Traverse City: Brilliant Books is a small but beautifully organized store on Front Street, right in downtown Traverse City. The staff are extremely passionate, and their stock is very carefully curated. With a large comfy seating area and complimentary coffee at the heart of the store, it’s a place that you will want to hang out in for hours. (Tirzah Price)

  • Literati Bookstore, Ann Arbor: Over the past few years, Literati Bookstore has become an Ann Arbor community staple. Ann Arbor has always had used bookstore gems, but Literati brought a fresh indie vibe to a downtown that suffered two major literary losses with the closing of Shaman Drum Bookshop and the flagship Borders. Their event schedule is superb, and their social media presence is on point. (Aram Mrjoian)
  • McLean & Eakin, Petoskey: With a welcoming two-floor layout, great staff picks, and solid shelf space devoted to Michigan writers, McLean & Eakin does it right. Plus, they’re located in downtown Petoskey near some stellar coffeehouses and breweries. (Aram Mrjoian)

Minnesota

  • Milkweed, Minneapolis: Located on the first floor of Open Book, the largest literary arts center in the U.S., Milkweed Editions’ bookstore is an intimate, friendly space with a brilliantly curated selection of new books, with a focus on small presses, and a solid selection of poetry and literary journals. The storefront shares building space with a trendy coffee bar, Loft Literary Center, Minnesota Center for Book Arts, and Milkweed’s gorgeous offices. (Aram Mrjoian)
  • Wild Rumpus, Minneapolis: Fantastic kids bookstore in Minneapolis, complete with a tiny kids door & multiple store pets (cats, birds, a ferret…) (Christy Childers)
  • Common Good Books, St. Paul: If you are a Minnesotan, you pretty much have to love Common Good Books. Located on Snelling Avenue in St. Paul, this bookstore is owned by Minnesota legend Garrison Keillor, the store’s bright, sunny interior includes an impressive range of fiction, nonfiction, and Minnesota-specific staff picks. I love to wander this store. (Kim Ukura)

Mississippi

  • Square Books, Oxford: Square has three locations, all of them on Oxford’s historic square. Arguably the best, though, is the one with a second story porch overlooking the square. (Amy Diegelman)

  • Lemuria, Jackson: Inside Banner Hall, Lemuria is impossible to miss with its red storefront and awesome statue of a hand holding an open book. Their first editions clubs (one for youth titles!) send out signed books every month. (Amy Diegelman)

Missouri

  • Left Bank Books, St. Louis: While the options are amazing, it’s the author events that really make this place special. (Jessica Pryde)
  • Subterranean Books, St. Louis: It’s tiny, but the people who work there are larger than life and always ready to help you find just what you need in that particular moment. (Jessica Pryde)

Montana

  • Country Bookshelf, Bozeman: I stopped in here on my swing through the US on a cross-country move and I was not disappointed. The shop is cute and features a great local authors section, as well as helpful staff that let me both browse quietly and happily helped when I asked for a recommendation. (Rachel Manwill)

Nebraska

  • Indigo Bridge, Lincoln: This bookstore is also a cafe and has an adorable dedicated kids section, complete with storytime. It’s also a totally cool hangout spot where both grads and undergrads stare at their computers and try to study. (Ilana Masad)

Nevada

  • The Writer’s Block, Las Vegas: A space that’s welcome to readers, but also awesomely encouraging for local writers. A must-stop for the bookish in Vegas. (Nikki VanRy)
  • Grassroots Books, Reno: New books and also constant sales and discounts on used books (you can seriously get a bag of books here for $5!). (Nikki VanRy)
  • BooksOrBooks, Las Vegas: Small intimate neighborhood bookstore that’s working to create a community out of readers in Nevada. (Nikki VanRy)

New Hampshire

  • Water Street Bookstore, Exeter: Right in the heart of downtown, near Phillips Exeter Academy (whose famous alumni include Dan Brown, Win Butler, Roxane Gay, John Irving, and Mark Zuckerberg), Water Street’s big draws include a wonderful selection of smaller press titles, a huge children’s section, and a friendly, knowledgeable staff. (Liberty Hardy)

New Jersey

  • Watchung Booksellers, Montclair: My local indie is somewhat small, but they have a great children’s section in the back where they host events, many of them family-friendly. Plus they’re connected to the new(ish) cafe next door, which helps make their outdoor summer music series even more awesome than it was before. The shop also plays host to multiple book clubs, including their newest one for Nasty Women. (Steph Auteri)
  • WORD JC, Jersey City: I helped open this store, so obviously I love it. Go for the staff picks, the amazing hot chocolate in the cafe, and the seating outside on the pedestrian mall, and you will love it too. (Jenn Northington)
  • Labyrinth Books, Princeton: This HUGE, multi-level bookstore is steps away from Princeton’s campus, and contains a wide variety of books for kids and adults, as well as holds amazing author appearances, thanks to the pull of the University. (Jaime Herndon)

New Mexico

  • Collected Works, Santa Fe: A cozy but extensive selection of books populate this bookstore, located in a historic building in downtown Santa Fe. It’s a great place to find the book you didn’t know you needed and a great mocha to go with it.
  • Bookworks, Albuquerque: Not only does Bookworks fill a huge space, but they sponsor and host some of the best literary events in town. It’s shelves can feel cluttered, but that only lends to its charm. Definitely a space to get lost in for a few hours.

New York

  • McNally Jackson, New York City: New York City has its fair share of indie bookshops to choose from, so it’s tough to choose a favorite. But if pressed, I’d choose this one. Aside from the fantastic selection of new books and the impressive collection of periodicals, this shop is especially friendly to independent publishers, and plays host to numerous quirky-as-hell lit events on the regular (hello Catch-22 anniversary party, I miss you). This spot was a regular stop for me back when I still commuted into the city for work. (Steph Auteri)
  • Bluestockings Bookstore, New York City: This volunteer-run bookstore is the coolest feminist bookstore/cafe/activist center you’ll ever see. They sell zines, books, planners, bookish goodies, and more. (Jaime Herndon)
  • Strand Bookstore, New York City: I find it pretty much impossible to go to NYC without hunting out some good bargains at the Strand — new and used and discounted books galore, miles and miles of them. (Claire Handscombe)
  • Oblong Books, Rhinebeck: Have you ever wanted to visit Stars Hollow? Well, visit downtown Rhinebeck, NY, and it’s almost the same thing. This adorable little town holds an amazing indie bookstore, owned by two generations of the Herman family, with so many delightful books to browse, you’ll lose your mind. It’s a gorgeous four-hour drive from my house, and I make the trip every few months, because it’s worth it. (Liberty Hardy)

North Carolina

  • McIntyre’s Books, Pittsboro: Because they truly LOVE books and reading and their customers. (Jaime Herndon)
  • Malaprop’s, Asheville: This is a favorite of locals, and for good reason. From their knowledgeable staff, to delicious coffee, to fantastic author events and great book selection (there’s a good chance you’ll find signed editions here), it truly is a lovely store. (Sonja Palmer)

  • Spellbound Children’s Bookshop, Asheville: For all your children’s book needs, this charming shop is really involved in the local community, and has a well-curated collection. (Sonja Palmer)

North Dakota

  • Zandbroz Variety, Fargo: The bookstore part of Zandbroz is small but welcoming, the selection is fantastic, and the staff are knowledgable and seem to absolutely love being there. Plus the variety part of Zandbroz is as much fun as the books. Everything from journals to funny greeting cards to fun home accessories, it’s pretty much impossible to walk out empty-handed.

Ohio

  • The Learned Owl, Hudson: Each of this shop’s three floors is packed with novels. It showcases local authors and has a fabulous collection of children’s books. (Kristen Twardowski)
  • The Book Loft, Columbus: More of an event than a real shopping experience, The Book Loft has 32 winding rooms chock-full of books. You need a map to get through! (Susie Rodarme)
  • Loganberry Books, Cleveland: A mix of new and used books greet you in a lovely, funky, charming space. This bookstore also has an active list of events. (Susie Rodarme)

Oklahoma

  • Full Circle Bookstore, Oklahoma City: The Tattered Cover of OKC. A huge indie bookstore with rooms upon rooms of books, a kick-ass mystery section, and lots of cozy places to read. (Tasha Brandstatter)

Oregon

  • Powell’s Books, Portland: You can’t go to Portland without visiting Powell’s. It’s a cavernous shop filled with so many beautiful books. One of the best bookstores in the country, for sure. (Christy Childers)
  • Books by the Bay, Coos Bay: This quaint store is just off the gorgeous bay. Modest, with comfy old chairs and tons of local offerings, it’s the perfect stop for any of your reading needs. (Amy Diegelman)

Pennsylvania

  • Joseph Fox Bookshop, Philadelphia: Established in 1951, Joseph Fox Bookshop is the place you want to be seen to be counted among Philadelphia’s literati. Carrying a Joseph Fox sturdy, slick white bag crammed with the latest literary fiction releases is an instant status symbol. Bumping shoulders with other readers among the carefully curated selection of this cozy and eclectic bookshop just off posh Rittenhouse Square is a coveted kind of intimacy. Plus, the dedicated staff will do their best to track down a special order for you. (Sarah S. Davis)
  • Main Point Books, Wayne: Main Point Books is my favorite independent bookstore in the Philadelphia suburbs. Main Point is friendly to local writers, book clubs, and readers and the friendly staff is always willing to help you find something. I love this bookstore because they go beyond just the standard selection and include some lesser known titles to help you discover new books. They also have a solid selection, not just in fiction, but in nonfiction, young adult, and children’s books. (Sarah S. Davis)
  • Farley’s Bookshop, New Hope: Farley’s is the kind of bookshop that book lovers dream and authors write about. Independent, carefully curated selection of books, and an old-fashioned atmosphere in a quirky little town by a river — it’s easy to spend hours here. (Tara Cheesman)

Rhode Island

  • Island Bound Bookstore, Block Island: As the only bookstore on Block Island (aka the most perfect New England island), Island Bound has a lot to live up to. Even before it came under new ownership at the end of 2016, the shop carried a wonderful variety of vacation-worthy reads and local interest authors. The new owners are expanding its event offerings and creating a community destination, not just someplace to stop in when you’ve finished all the beach books you brought. (Rachel Manwill)

South Carolina

  • Blue Bicycle, Charleston: I have only visited Blue Bicycle Books on a few occasions, and all of them were for separate annual YALLFest events. The store’s friendly staff are put through a gauntlet each year as thousands of teenagers, YA enthusiasts, and their families crowd the streets of Charleston for any number of author panels and signings, including all around their store. Blue Bicycle carries plenty of genres separated by different little areas, including signed copies and half-price paperbacks. They’re involved in their community too, including reading events, summer writing camps for kids, and pop-up bookselling. (Thomas Maluck)
  • M. Judson Booksellers, Greenville: The founders of M. Judson’s commitment to all things local is evident in everything the store does. Believers of the bookstore as a community hub, M. Judson’s hosts amazing events (including once-a-month sitdown suppers) featuring local authors and members of the Greenville community, not to mention the fantastic book selection and helpful booksellers.

South Dakota

  • Mitzi’s, Rapid City: Mitzi’s is a gorgeous and intimate shop that’s split between two levels. The booksellers always manage you make you feel at home and you’re welcome to sit in a comfy chair and stay awhile.

Tennessee

  • Parnassus Books, Nashville: Author Ann Patchett owns this bookstore along with Karen Hayes. In addition to a great collection of novels, the shop has two part-time book dogs. (Kristen Twardowski)
  • Her Bookshop, Nashville: Her Bookshop is a wonderful new addition to the Nashville scene, opening in 2016. This little store is beautifully curated, concentrating on physically beautiful books that you’ll want to display front facing out in your own home. (Rincey Abraham)

Texas

  • Book People, Austin: The BIGGEST independent bookstore in Texas. I came in this store with drenched shoes and they sold me socks and let me pad around for a couple hours. They have an amazing selection and great book-themed gifts. (Alice Burton)
  • Murder by the Book, Houston: Murder by the Book maybe a genre-specific bookstore, but it still manages to have something on its shelves for everyone. A good crime really is had by all. (Cassandra Neace)

Utah

  • The King’s English, Salt Lake City: This is a bookstore that’s in an old house, which means each room is dedicated to a different genre and around every corner is a surprise. What is not to love? (Full disclosure: I worked here too.) (Jenn Northington)

Vermont

  • Bear Pond Books, Montpelier: This charming two-floor bookstore in downtown Montpelier is magic. With creaky floors and shelves packed with new and used books (absorbed from their purchase of Rivendell Books), it’s easy to get lost for hours. Their second floor is all children’s and YA, and is also home to a tortoise named Veruca. (Tirzah Price)
  • Northshire Books, Manchester: This bookstore is nestled among the mountains in southwestern Vermont, and it’s a store that sprawls two beautiful floors. A great children’s selection, an excellent adult selection, and even a selection of used books. I only wish I’d had more time to really lose my entire paycheck here when I visited recently! (Kelly Jensen)

Virginia

  • Hooray for Books, Alexandria: This children’s bookstore has a well-curated selection of books for kids of all ages, plus adults! There are regular storytimes for kids and book clubs for adults, too. (Teresa Preston)
  • Fountain Bookstore, Richmond: Tucked away on a cobblestone street, walking into Fountain Bookstore feels like stepping back in time, until you look closer. Solid wood everywhere on top of exposed brick, Fountain looks like a classic, old-time bookstore….until you see what’s on the shelves. Owner Kelly Justice truly curates the store’s offerings in a wide variety of genres, and titles you may not have heard of (but definitely will love). Fountain is a gem definitely worth multiple visits. (Disclaimer: I used to work there and still fill in on occasion, but I was a frequent shopper for a decade before that, so my love was well-established.) (Maureen Stinger)
  • Prince Books, Norfolk: This little shop in downtown Norfolk sits a few doors down from the USS Wisconsin, moored in Norfolk’s busy shipping harbor. Some of my favorite surprise reads have come from the store’s discount tables, they do author readings on occasion, and they’re a quick walk to all kinds of yummy restaurants (or you can grab a bite in their in-store cafe). Grab a book and a coffee, and cross Waterside to sit on a bench, watch the ships go by, and read, read, read. (Dana Staves)

Washington

  • Ada’s Technical Books, Seattle: Finally, a bookstore I haven’t worked for! But I want to live here: their cafe has full meals as well as great coffee, and the curation — they sell technical nonfiction and fiction with sciencey themes — is absolute perfection. (Jenn Northington)
  • Auntie’s Bookstore, Spokane: If you find yourself on the opposite side of the state from Seattle, swing by Auntie’s Bookstore in Spokane; it’s eclectic and awesome. (Christy Childers)
  • Third Place Books Ravenna, Seattle: Washington is so full of amazing bookstores that it’s hard to choose just one, but the careful curation of Ravenna is hard to beat. I’ve never walked out of that store without a new book in hand. The staff is friendly and helpful, they’ve got a bar downstairs and a delicious Greek restaurant in the back—it’s truly an awesome indie. It would be my number one favorite if it wasn’t for Elliott Bay (but I work there, so I thought picking it and mentioning their excellent comics selection was kinda cheating). (Emma Nichols)

West Virginia

  • Empire Books and News, Huntington: An indie bookshop that also sells used books, features local authors, and has signing events. Great deals in a cute store that takes its independent status seriously. (Susie Rodarme)

Wisconsin

  • A Room of One’s Own, Madison: Feminist bookstore, community hub, site of political action, source of great books, place to learn and grow. This bookstore is everything we need right now. (Derek Attig)
  • Boswell Books, Milwaukee: A delightful, big, and bright indie bookstore just north of the center of the city has a friendly, knowledgeable staff and so many fun categories of books. The store hosts so many excellent events, too. (Kelly Jensen)

  • Read Between The Lynes, Woodstock, IL : I’m cheating and putting this one in Wisconsin because it’s literally the closest indie bookstore to southern Wisconsin, where I am. Read Between The Lynes not only has a great selection of books and is located in the literal center of town, it’s also a candy store. Did you hear me? It’s a bookstore and a candy store. Worth the drive to almost-Wisconsin. (Kelly Jensen)

Wyoming

  • The Second Story, Laramie: Buy a book, get a free espresso. *mic drop* (Tasha Brandstatter)

 

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