The Coolest Bookstores Around America to Visit This Year

Even if you’re exclusively a digital reader, there’s something undeniably special about buying a physical book at an independent bookstore. Personal recommendations from staff, charming book displays and being in support of local businesses—we have lots of reasons for wanting to hit the road and visit as many indie shops as possible. Here’s a list of our top independent bookstores that we’d love to check out this year.

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The Booksmith

booksmith.com/

San Francisco, CA

A fun shop located in the lively Haight-Ashbury neighborhood of San Francisco, this store has a great lineup of live readings and author events. Theme-based book-swap events and special guests from David Foster Wallace to Emma Straub make this store an eventful place to be amongst books and book-lovin’ people.

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Kramerbooks & Afterwords Café & Grill

kramers.com/

Washington, D.C.

A bookstore, coffee shop and restaurant all in one? Yes, please! And this spot is open 24 hours on Fridays and Saturdays. Night-owl readers, this is your mecca.

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Square Books

squarebooks.com

Oxford, MS

Publisher’s Weekly named this “Bookstore of the Year” in 2013. Located in the town that William Faulkner called home, this inviting store has been around for over 30 years and often brings in regulars like John Grisham. They also host a radio show that features authors reading from their own works.

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Harvard Book Store

harvard.com

Cambridge, MA

While the name might make you think textbooks and university paraphernalia, this store isn’t just about academia—nor does it require customers to show school ID. While there’s plenty of Harvard-branded items to peruse, there’s also a terrific variety and some fun options: Get your online-ordered books delivered by bicycle or, if you’re visiting in person, you can have the “book-making robot” build your own bound copy of thousands of titles you’ve only seen online!

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Powell’s

powells.com

Portland, OR

This powerhouse independent supplier has recently been named the Best Bookstore in Portland by the Oregonian. And while Powells.com is a bookworm’s sure destination for online purchases, the brick and mortar store is highly impressive as well—just don’t forget to pick up your map at the front to help you navigate the maze of shelves and color-coded aisles.

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Strand Book Store

strandbooks.com

New York, NY

The Strand has been around since 1927 and is the only shop still standing from what was once New York’s “Book Row.” It has over 2.5 MILLION new, used and rare books that, if all laid out, would make up approximately 18 miles. The legendary store features author appearances ranging from Patti Smith to James Franco to David Sedaris, and the rare book reading room on the top floor is not to be missed. Definitely a must-see if you’re in the Big Apple!

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Common Good Books

commongoodbooks.com

St. Paul, MN

For those of you who are devout fans of A Prairie Home Companion, hosted by Garrison Keillor, this store is a must-see for your list. It’s owned by Keillor and is raved about by locals as a place with surprising finds and lots of variety.

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Parnassus Books

parnassusbooks.net

Nashville, TN

Esteemed author Ann Patchett opened this shop with publisher Karen Hayes when the last indie in Nashville closed down. Now it’s a booming seller of wonderful front and backlist titles, the perfect kind of local store to keep in mind when you’re in Music City.

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Henry Miller Memorial Library

henrymiller.org

Big Sur, CA

If you’re ever meandering up Highway 1 through magnificent Big Sur, be sure to make a pit stop at this store and library. It’s stocked with reads that inspired Miller, as well as an extensive selection of Miller’s own works. And who can turn down free coffee and tea? Come by for some of the fun events like outdoor movie showings and poetry readings, which are held year-round.

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Baldwin’s Book Barn

bookbarn.com

West Chester, PA

Could there be a cozier place to read than in a beautiful repurposed barn with floor-to-ceiling shelves filled with books? The Book Barn was built in 1822 and has a wonderful bookish charm with a wood-burning stove, stone walls and lots of cozy nooks to curl up in on a cold winter’s day.

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Do you have a local bookstore that you love? Let us know in the comments!

    Liz Stein

    Liz Stein is an editor for Park Row Book where she edits commercial and literary fiction, psychological suspense and literary thrillers, and women’s fiction. She is always looking for beautifully written books with characters that are unforgettable. When not reading or editing, Liz prefers to spend her time outdoors hiking, cycling, and running, or indoors on the yoga mat or in the kitchen.


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