I need the geeky goodness of the indie bookstore

I need the geeky goodness of the indie bookstore

While we were in Seaside, we dropped into the local bookstore, asalways. It’s been too long since I’ve been inside an indie bookstore, and let me tell you: I’ve missed it.


We used to have a wonderful local bookstore a mile from our house. It got bought out by Borders, and while I was no raving fan, at least I had a physical bookstore nearby. But now even the Borders is gone. I miss it.

We have an independent bookstore in town, which we support by attending events (like this one), but I rarely stop in to browse, or buy. Our vacation visit to this little indie bookstore convinced me I should make the effort. Because …


The Browsing

A real bookstore is full of geeky goodness–tables of bestsellers, neatly stocked shelves, odd collections–that you can take in with a sweep of the eye and not a click of the mouse. Inspiration is everywhere. Everywhere.


 this shelf was labeled “contemporary fiction” but could have been called “beach reads” 

The Staff


Customer: “I’m looking for a good beach read.”

Staff: “Tell me some of your favorite books so we can find you something amazing.

I would call that a pretty typical interaction for an indie bookstore.


travel writing classics: a category I wasn’t seeking but was happy to find

The Serendipity

I do most of my book shopping online these days. It’s convenient, but it also doesn’t really give me the opportunity to stumble upon a book that’s much different from the ones I’m already looking for. But in a bookstore, it’s easy to stumble upon books you never knew you were missing.

Books I added to my to-read list after browsing in the bookstore: The Time In Between: A NovelA Walk Across AmericaThe Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character, and Achievement, Maine, and Hothouse: The Art of Survival and the Survival of Art at America’s Most Celebrated Publishing House, Farrar, Straus, and Giroux.

Puffin clothbound classics for young readers

gorgeous puffin clothbound classics for young readers. want. neeeed.   

I love the books, but I also enjoy perusing the other paper goods: stationery, notecards, calendars, journals, and any other writerly goodness I can find.

Tell us all about your favorite bookstore in comments.

(I’m thinking about hosting a linkup to share your favorite bookstores because I would love to read all about them, and I’m guessing I’m not alone. Are you interested? ) 

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  1. Esther says:

    Oh how I love independent bookstores. I can’t even think of one close to us now. But when we would visit my great aunt in Pittsburg, Kansas, there was an incredible used bookstore. It had that slightly musty smell with books stacked to the ceiling. It’s where I picked up my first copy of Herodotus. I still love stopping in the big chains if only to browse around and see if anything catches my eye. I think a link up of favorite independent bookstores would be great. I can only imagine the hidden gems we’ll all discover!

  2. Here’s the deal – I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE browsing in bookstores, but my Scotch-side rises up in revolt when it comes to buying books there because I know I can get them so much cheaper online (Amazon, Abebooks). I know, I know, and I don’t want the little bookstores to go away either, but where’s the middle ground??

    Compromise: We have this FANTASTIC used bookstore (http://mrksusedbooks.com/) in a town close to us that takes books (and DVDs, CDs, books-on-tape/CD, and video games) for store-credit (or cash, though you get a better deal with credit). A good Friday night date will include hitting up our favorite ethnic restaurant (Turkish, Indian, or Thai, depending on our mood) and then spending an hour or two at Mr. K’s. You never know what you’re going to find, and if you’re looking for something specific, you might be out of luck. However, it’s always a treasure hunt and the prices aren’t bad, plus – supporting LOCAL. 🙂

  3. Anna says:

    Oh you should definitely do a link-up! I will write all about my beloved Recycled Books – a used bookstore in the old Opera House in downtown Denton, TX. It’s my favorite bookstore and that’s saying something because I’ve seen a lot!

      • Alison R. says:

        Hi Anne
        We’ll be visiting family in Louisville next month and I was hoping you could recommend a couple of great indie book stores in town. Thanks!
        Love your blog.
        I’ve read more this year since starting the 2018 Reading Challenge than in the last couple of years combined?

  4. I used to work at an independant bookstore in college & for a year afterwards. It’s actually where I met my husband and to date probably the best job I’ve ever had. Sometimes I think about getting a job at our local Barnes & Noble but I know it won’t quite compare to the experience of that indie bookstore I loved.

    • Anne says:

      I would love to hear the story about how you met your husband in the bookstore. I’m guessing that’s not uncommon. Any idea if I’m right? I just know two of my favorite librarians at my local branch met their husbands across the circulation counter. 🙂

  5. We have a great independent bookstore in Kansas City – Rainy Day Books – but I support it the same way you do yours: by attending author events. In fact, I don’t know if I’ve ever even been in the actual shop because it’s not convenient to me.

    Also like you, I seek out bookstores when traveling. I’ve stumbled on some great ones that way.

  6. Tim says:

    My wife needed new running shoes so she went to the independent running shoe store downtown. I went to the independent bookstore next door to it. I found a very clever and funny book imagining what it would have been like if Luke Skywalker had grown up as a little boy with Darth Vader around the house being the harried parent. Read the whole thing while she tried on running shoes.

  7. Amy says:

    One of our indie bookstore The Poisoned Pen specializes in mysteries but also carries other great reads. Library bookstores have screaming deals and you never know what you will find there. I read The Time In Between and recommended to others that have also enjoyed it.

  8. Hannah S. says:

    Love 30A & Sundog Books! We were there in August, and I had to go there twice 🙂 I also loved the Puffin Classics. So pretty! That store is a little gem and hard to come by these days. Can’t wait for next summer’s trip!

  9. Carrie says:

    My favorite indie bookstore closed down years ago: Oxford in Atlanta, GA. So many good memories as a teen and young adult browsing those dusty aisles!

  10. Leigh Kramer says:

    Love, love, love! I’m so happy Ann Patchett decided to open Parnassus Books after all the bookstores closed in Nashville. Between Parnassus and McKay’s Used Books, I am golden.

    • Anne says:

      We seriously considered detouring to hit Parnassus Books when we were driving through Nashville last week. I need to go there and McKay’s next time I’m in Nashville.

  11. Kym says:

    My parents read “A Walk Across America” years ago, and when I read it just a few years ago, I told them how it left me pretty unsatisfied. The writing is just not that great. My dad recommended “Blue Highways”, and I LOVED it…..it’s what I wanted AWAA to be. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend adding “Blue Highways by William Least Heat Moon to your list. Amazing!!

  12. Elizabeth says:

    I loved browsing around in Kramerbooks (right above Dupont Circle ) when I went to DC this summer. I would spend just about every weekend at that store if I lived there!

  13. Anne says:

    I think all of ours are used bookstores. I Know You Like a Book is in Peoria Heights and is very cute and fun. Babbitt’s Books in Normal (Illinois) is kind of well-known, too. Our Borders closed not long ago. I never go to Barnes and Noble. I love my library though! 🙂

  14. Lana Rush says:

    We spent about a month of our summer in New York City getting medical care for our youngest daughter and I fell in complete and total book love with several indie bookstores while in the city.

    My husband actually mapped out a “bookstore field trip” for us one afternoon – we explored one bookstore after another by following his route. So much fun!

    Some of our favorites were Three Lives, Idlewild, Books of Wonder, Powerhouse Books, Posman Books, and P.S. Bookstore. Idlewild is totally dedicated to travel books – travel guides, travel essays and memoirs, and books that take place in foreign locales. They even have foreign language classes for those getting ready for international trips.

    We have an independent bookstore here in Austin called BookPeople and while I like it, it’s as big as our Barnes & Noble. I like browsing through the smaller indie bookstores because that’s where I always find treasures I would’ve overlooked (or never even found) in the larger big box stores.

    I took pics of every single bookstore so I would LOVE it if you did a link-up – it would give me a great excuse to revisit some of my favorite moments of the summer! 🙂

  15. Jennifer H says:

    I have a not-so-secret-since-I’m-telling-you-now dream of owning/working in a little bookstore. After visiting Homearama (Norton Commons, designed by the same team as Seaside) last year, I now drool over the idea of living in an apartment over the bookstore. I want it to be near a school, so I can tempt the kids with a reading room. And honestly, I want to be independently wealthy so I can give the books to people who need them 🙂

  16. Ashley says:

    Any time we take a family trip, we have to stop in at least one local bookstore. We recently discovered The Bookshelf in Kalispell Montana. Best used bookstore I’ve ever been in. Amazingly well organized with everything from classics to contemporary best sellers, at great prices and in pristine condition! Even my kids came out with treasures. We were already planning to move from where we currently live to that area and that bookstore pretty much sealed the deal for me.

  17. Paula says:

    I love Sundog! My family vacations in Santa Rosa when we can and going to Seaside for ice cream and book browsing is one of my favorite activities! My favorite local bookstore is also a used bookstore called Bookmiser. It’s beautifully organized, the staff obviously loves their work, and they have a huge children/young adult section for my kids to geek out in : )

  18. Cynthia says:

    I travel quite a bit, so I tend to have bookstores in various cities that I visit. What always amazes me about Indie booksellers is that they remember me, even after months! How can you not LOVE that kind of service?!

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  20. brianna says:

    I have to plug my local indie: Sundance Books and Music. First, it’s an a former residence (the cookbooks and gift type items are in what was the kitchen). Second, they host tons of free events. Third, they are super friendly and helpful. I prefer to buy my books there over Amazon – if they don’t have it, odds are they can get it. I could spend hours browsing there.

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