Saturday is the fifth annual Independent Bookstore Day, a national event celebrating bookstores and the readers who frequent them.
I’m looking forward to spending Independent Bookstore Day at Tulsa’s Magic City Books, a nonprofit indie I’ve dreamed of visiting since they first opened. I can’t wait to meet Oklahoma readers there for the first time. (The event is free and open to all; more details here.)
I love visiting independent bookstores: I visit my own regularly, and pop into the local stores when we’re on the road. Book tour was a dream, because I got to visit so many in such a short span of time. I’ve been to dozens, and am always excited to discover new ones.
In honor of Independent Bookstore Day, I’m sharing six of my favorite indies. Because choosing bookish superlatives is torture, I tried not to overthink it, and chose favorites I’ve visited recently that I haven’t featured before on the blog:
1. Square Books, Oxford, Mississippi
When work took me to Memphis in February, I couldn’t resist dipping down into Mississippi to visit the famed Square Books (and Off Square Books, and Square Jr). With bright light, friendly booksellers, and am ample selection, I finally got to see what the fuss is about.
Special shout-out to the staff at Square Jr, who rallied to the challenging task I presented them. After thorough deliberation, they sent me home with four carefully-chosen books to satisfy my four very different young readers.
2. Typewronger Books, Edinburgh, Scotland
This is the only bookstore not in the United States, but good gracious, if you’re ever in Edinburgh, don’t miss it! The owner himself is a delight—he’s worked in famed bookstores all over Europe, greets each customer with a cheery hello and offer of a cup of tea, curates a wonderful selection, and has a vintage typewriter that tweets.
3. The Mysterious Bookshop, New York City
I’ve written about some of my favorite Manhattan bookstores before, but New York has so many, I’m constantly adding new ones to the list. This downtown bookshop focuses on—you guessed it—mysteries, has a knowledgeable staff eager to press the perfect book into your hands, and boasts bookshelves that go all the way up.
4. Rakestraw Books, Danville, California
This Oakland-area bookstore is such a delight. My photo, taken after dark, doesn’t do it justice: it’s light and bright, with a cheery atmosphere and incredible staff picks selection. I’m always grateful for a bookseller who can nail my taste; and owner Michael sent me home with several books I thoroughly enjoyed.
Downtown Danville is charming. Make sure to take a walk through the streets (and maybe stop in for a happy hour special at one of the enticing sidewalk cafés) after you find your next great read.
5. Blue Willow Bookshop, Houston, Texas
I always love it when a bookstore finds great success in breaking the rules. When Valerie Koehler opened Blue Willow more than twenty years ago, they told her it was insanity to combine grown-up and children’s literature, half and half, in the same shop. They’ve been killing it ever since.
This store’s atmosphere is incredible, it’s run almost entirely by women, and these women are crazy about books.
6. The Story Shop, Monroe, Georgia
Every inch of this children’s bookshop is pure delight—and not just for kids. Storytime (and author signings) are held through the doors of the wardrobe. Follow the yellow brick road to the bathroom. Kids can help themselves to a candy bookworm on the counter. And don’t miss your opportunity to have your own Belle moment on the library ladder.
Readers, I could go on all day, but I’m stopping myself at six. Now it’s your turn—tell me about YOUR favorite indies in comments? And if you have hot plans for Independent Bookstore Day, you know we want to hear all about them.