Earlier this month, we gave you insight in to upcoming author Elly Blake’s debut novel, Frostblood. While reflecting on the powerful feeling that comes with getting lost in a good story, this got me thinking about the equally enjoyable experience of wandering around bookstores and searching for the next book to dive in to. As an English major and a literature enthusiast, frequenting and exploring bookstores is a sacred experience for me. Recently, some individuals have expressed the fear that bookstores will become obsolete because of online retailers like Amazon. However, the exhilarating act of physically browsing shelves of books and discovering hidden literary gems is not one that can be replicated online in a fully satisfying or comparable way. So, fear not, bookstores and printed books are here to stay. To restore the hope of my fellow bibliophiles, here are 8 of our favorite bookstores throughout the United States:
1) The Last Bookstore – Los Angeles, California
I would feel wrong starting off this list without first highlighting my hometown favorite, The Last Bookstore, which is the largest used and new book and record store in California. Not only do they sell books, they also buy and trade, so if you have outside literary finds that are looking for a new home, The Last Bookstore is open to consideration. Outside of having an amazing selection of books and music, this store is also aesthetically amazing. One prime example of the design brilliance found within this store is their book Labyrinth on their second floor. Walking through The Last Bookstore truly feels like you are traveling through a wonderland of books.
website | 453 S Spring Street, Los Angeles, CA 90013 | (213)-488-0599
2) Powell’s City of Books – Portland, Oregon
You absolutely cannot talk about book lover havens without paying ode to the beauty that is Powell’s City of Books. This bookstore in Portland, Oregon is the biggest used and new bookstore in the world! To put this fact in to perspective, the store takes up a whole block and has a selection of approximately one million books! If you can’t find what your literary heart desires here, I think you may be out of luck.
website | 1005 W Burnside Street, Portland, OR 97209 | 503-228-4651
3) Ada’s Technical Books & Café – Seattle, Washington
Fellow nerds and geeks unite! Ada’s Technical Books & Café is catered to the technical genres. This is your go to bookstore for texts dedicated to topics such as the sciences, mathematics, technology, and engineering. Although Ada’s is focused on technical subjects, it is certainly not limited to these genres. There is something to spark the curiosity of just about everyone here. Not to mention, they also have a gourmet café that serves up delicious drinks and food.
website | 425 15th Avenue, East Seattle, WA 98112 |(206) 322-1058
4) Malvern Books – Austin, Texas
Although the name of this bookstore is derived from the medieval poet William Langland, Malvern Books is a bookstore that focuses on emerging voices. The selection of literature and poetry found in this bookstore is curated specifically to focus on “independent publishers and lesser-known voices.” If you are looking for a great place for guidance and suggestions in visionary literature, Malvern Books will certainly provide you with it.
website | 613 West 29th Street, Austin, TX 78705 | (512)-322-2097
Located in the historic Johnson Hardware building, Prospero’s has three floors of selection filled to the brim with lightly used books and vinyl. Also, on the third floor of this lovely vintage bookstore is a performance space where events such as live music and different forms of readings take place. With the affordable prices and their warm, welcoming staff, all Kansas City residents and visitors should frequent Prospero’s Books.
6) Murder on the Beach – Delray Beach, Florida
If you tend to gravitate towards mystery and thriller genres when it comes to selecting books, then this bookstore is for you! As its name implies, Murder on the Beach is a bookstore that specializes is suspense. Also, to add to their specialization, they offer many signed first editions of mystery novels, as well as offering many book signings, discussions, and readings in related genres.
website | 273 NE 2nd Avenue, Delray Beach, FL 3344 | 561-279-7790
7) Read It & Eat – Chicago, Illinois
Speaking of specialized bookstores, Read It & Eat is a book paradise for all the foodies and aspiring chefs out there. This culinary bookstore provides books on cooking, travel, history, and more. In addition to their wonderful selection of books, Read It & Eat also provides tastings, cooking demonstrations and classes, chef signings, and a wonderful book club. This bookstore is certain to up your cooking game and excite your taste buds!
website | 2142 N Halsted Street, Chicago, IL 60614 | (773) 661-6158
8) McNally Jackson Books – New York, New York
One can easily end up spending hours in McNally Jackson with the vast collection of books this independent store has. One of the most lovable aspects of this bookstore for literary lovers is their unique approach to organization. For example, they have a whole section devoted to memoir, and multiple sections of fiction are divided by country. On top of a rich selection of books, McNally Jackson also has an in-store coffee shop and their very own printing press where they will print and bind books for you.
website | 52 Prince St, New York, NY 10012 | (212) 274-1160
Let this short list be a reminder that bookstores still are, and will remain to be, incredibly relevant.
What is the most magical bookstore you have ever been to?
Tell us in the comments below.