Whether cozied up in bed alone or at a coffee shop with our book club besties, we love to read. And half the excitement of a brand new book is finding it. Exploring cool indie bookstores is one of the best ways to learn about new authors, books and genres you can’t find on your Kindle. Plus, research just proved that print books aren’t dead! To help encourage even more bookstore browsing, and to celebrate National Book Lover’s Day (which just happened this week on November 2), we’ve put together a list of 10 funky specialty indie shops that’ll indulge your current passions and help you discover new ones.
1. Busboys and Poets, Washington DC: When the President approves of a politically minded bookstore, you know it’s legit. Busboys began as a veg-friendly restaurant and then joined up with local bookstore Politics and Prose to bring those hungry for tempeh and tolerance together under one progressive roof. You’ll find more mainstream titles like The Sympathizer and Americanah nestled next to lesser known authors for some seriously well-rounded reading.
2. Grolier Poetry Book Shop, Boston: It’s the oldest poetry-specific bookstore in the United States and boasts over 15,000 poetry volumes in its collection, with a focus on small press, making it the perfect place to get lost on a wintery Boston afternoon. If you can’t make it to Beantown, be sure to browse the diverse online shop; we’ve already decided Fe-Lines: French Cat Poems Through the Ages is next on our must-read list. (Photo via Grolier Poetry Book Shop)
3. Women and Children First, Chicago: As you might expect from the name, this indie Chicago spot focuses on feminist and children’s literature. It’s got a welcoming, positive-vibes-only atmosphere and often hosts salons, book launches, conversations and author readings. Most recently, Ann Patchett stopped by to read from her latest title, Commonwealth, which goes to show the kind of bibliophile power they command. #girlbosses, unite!
4. Guide to Kulchur, Cleveland: This cooperative shop bills itself as “an incubator for emerging and marginalized voices within the print medium,” in the form of zines, small press publications, new and used books. They’re also activists for democratizing the written word; their Books 2 Prisoners volunteer-based program sends free books to Ohio prisons to “stimulate individual growth and positive change.”
5. The Stacks, New Orleans: You’re definitely going to need a bigger coffee table to house all the art books you’ll find at this NOLA art book outpost. We’re dying to page through the dreamy California Surfing and Climbing in the Fifties. You can also stock up on foreign art magazines and cheeky bibliophile pins to add to your denim jacket. One stop shopping, for sure!
6. Mystic Journey Bookstore, Los Angeles: For all things metaphysical, pop over to Venice the next time you’re visiting LA and check out the Mystic Journey Bookstore. It’s filled with cosmic self-help titles like Moon Spells: How to Use the Phases of the Moon to Get What You Want by Diane Ahlquist and tarot guides like The Ultimate Guide to Tarot by Liz Dean. Plus, their crystal selection is out of this world (get it?).
7. Atomic Books, Baltimore: Not surprisingly, John Waters counts this quirky comic bookstore as a favorite local spot. You’ll find comic books, graphic novels, art zines, indie magazines — if it’s fringe, you’ll find it here. The shop’s employees are well versed in their offerings, so even if you have no idea where to start, they’ll be sure to recommend something off-the-wall and wonderful. Bonus: They have a bookstore bar!
8. The Poisoned Pen, Scottsdale, AZ: Thrillers, mysteries and detective stories abound in this indie Arizona shop. They host signings, talks and monthly book clubs (we’re particularly intrigued by the British Crime Club) almost every night of the week. If you’re looking to get into the suspenseful beyond Sue Grafton, put the Poisoned Pen on your list. (Photo via The Poisoned Pen)
9. Idlewild Books, NYC: If your wanderlust is getting the better of you, be sure to stop by Idlewild in the West Village and get your travel bug fix. Once you’ve decided between France or Spain as your next vacation destination with the help of their travel guides, you can sign up for a language class on the spot. Tres bien, non? (Photo via Idlewild Books)
10. Omnivore Books, San Francisco: Give your Pinterest boards a rest and hit up this cookbook shop for some culinary inspiration. Aside from the traditional Kinfolk tomes, Omnivore also has an impressive collection of vintage food books like Cakes, Candies and Conceits from 1921, in which you’ll learn how to make macarons and get tips on the best color schemes for your seasonal parties. Don’t forget to check out the events calendar; they continually score serious culinary heavy hitters to stop by.
If you could dream into reality any kind of specialty bookstore, what would it be? Tweet us @BritandCo and tell us your ideal shop!
(Featured photo via Getty)