Before I’d truly explored Long Island, a place I’ve called home for my entire life, I felt limited to Barnes & Noble and Borders (RIP), where I’d beg my mom to stop as we drove past on our way to the Smith Haven Mall. I’ve been a reader my entire life and I craved a local bookstore I could support close to my home town. This past summer, I decided to discover the best of Long Island’s bookstore hideaways and they did not disappoint. Across Suffolk and Nassau Counties, Long Island has a ton of independent bookstores worth the trip.
What’s better than an independent bookstore? One with a café attached, of course. The moment you walk into Book Revue, Long Island’s largest independent bookstore, you’re overwhelmed by the smell of fresh coffee and endless rows of books. My favorite part about this bookstore is that it not only sells new releases but has a large collection of used and discounted books. The staff is incredibly knowledgeable as well: the woman who helped me find The Winemaker’s Wife gave me several other great historical fiction recs. The store has been family owned since 1977 and one certainly feels at home here while browsing.
This bookstore (formerly known as Harbor Books) is a Bookstagrammer’s haven. You might almost miss the entrance, but once you find the stairs leading to an attic-esque space with a darling patio, you know you’re in the right place. In nicer weather you can take a pot of tea out onto the terrace covered in greenery and comfy cushioned patio furniture, or head directly inside to the floor-to-ceiling wall of books. With a ladder leaning against the shelves to boot and aesthetically pleasing white netted chairs with a window view, this place is total boho apartment goals. In this female-owned store, you can find books, botanicals, and specialty coffees and teas. You’ll want to spend hours in this cozy nook!
This will be your new favorite pit stop on your drive out to the Hamptons this summer. My favorite thing about this store is the number of great events they hold—not only author signings or readings, but book clubs, story time for children, and more. Book Hampton does a great job promoting local authors too, dedicating a table in the store to their work and hosting a Local Author Series bimonthly. Stop by for an all-consuming beach read and stay for the vibrant atmosphere.
Dolphin Bookshop has been Port Washington’s woman-owned and run (!!) premier independent bookstore since 1945 and has a history of notable author signings (J.K. Rowling, for example). There’s a little something for everyone in this store—there’s a significant children’s section, the occasional Friday night music event, a well-attended book club, and plenty of new releases. The store also has a café attached with adorable literary-themed sandwiches—Catcher In the Rye on, you guessed it, rye bread, or the Under The Tuscan Sun featuring mozzarella, tomato, and basil. Head there this month to check out their bookish holiday decorations.
As its website says, this is the perfect “quaint and cozy” bookstore if you find yourself at the end of the North Fork. Burton’s Bookstore has been serving the waterfront Greenport community for the last 50 years, and it’s evident when you walk in—the store has a section dedicated to nautical books and books from local authors, not to mention a wall full of the “classics” like Salinger or Austen.
Long Island has many great small towns worth visiting and dedicated local businesses worth supporting, so be sure to add these indies to your next day-tripping agenda!