Books and doors are the same thing. You open them, and you go through into another world.Jeanette Winterson
By now, you might have realized that I love books. They are a way to travel and escape into different universes, people, and experiences that might otherwise be impossible. Books and stories enlighten and forge connections between people across the world and that’s something I find so captivating.
Below are just a handful of some of the most popular bookstores to visit across the United States. If you love books and the incredible experience of wandering the aisles to discover your next adventure or story, these are the places for you.
Location: Boston, Massachusetts
Bookish Details: This family-owned bookstore got its start in 1984. While it started as a strictly mom-and-pop bookstore, Trident Booksellers grew in size and popularity over the past 4 decades into a staple of Boston book culture. It features a full-service restaurant and not one, but two stories packed full of books. It’s also the last of the independently owned bookstores in Boston. All the more reason to go support this local, not-so-hidden gem.
Location: New York City, NY
Bookish Details: In a spot spanning 6 city blocks called Book Row in 1927, The Strand emerged and was housed with 47 other bookstores in the same space. (Talk about competition). Luckily, with a lot of heart and dedication to making a space for book lovers and writers, The Strand is the only surviving book store from the historical Book Row. This beloved bookstore is still owned by the same family, although they have grown from a tiny store into one that houses 2.5 million new, used, and rare books. They even have a really cool subscription box featuring signed books!
Location: Washington D.C.
Bookish Details: Want to visit the first bookstore/cafe in DC? What about one that also has a bar and restaurant as well as great books? Kramer’s (formerly Kramerbooks) is your best option in the US capitol. They’re also committed to putting on hundreds, yes HUNDREDS, of book-related events each year. If you live nearby they do a 1-hour book delivery! If you aren’t close they have a book and wine subscription box. How cool is that!?
Location: Denver, Colorado
Bookish Details: 2021 marks their 50th year in business and they can proudly boast of transforming their love of books into a small storefront to 5 locations today. From books to bookish gifts to events (they have over 500 a year), the Tattered Cover became a community staple and a place where book lovers can gather. While they have just as many books for adults across all genres, their young adult and children’s book sections and events are heftier than most. It seems to be a great place for the entire family to get lost in discovering new and used books to take home.
Elliott Bay Book Co
Location: Seattle, Washington
Bookish Details: Author readings, book events, and over 150,000 titles make Elliott Bay Book Co a must-see bookstore if you’re in Seattle. With almost half a century in operation, they know how to create a fun, inviting, and cozy atmosphere. From dance events inside the store and book signings, there’s always something going on here. Want a blind date with a book? They have that. What about subscription boxes? Yep. They have that too and so much more!
Location: Portland, Oregon
Bookish Details: As the largest independent bookstore in the world and almost 50 years in operation, Powell’s is not only a local institution but a global favorite. Their mission is to foster a community of books, book lovers, and authors alike while providing an atmosphere you look forward to every time you visit. They’re also very committed (from what I can tell during my research) to raising up diverse voices and providing a safe space for authors and readers from all backgrounds.
Green Apple Books
Location: San Francisco, California
Bookish Details: From humble beginnings as a tiny bookstore selling used books, comics, and National Geographic magazines, Green Apple Books grew steadily ever since its opening in 1967. The shop still sits on its original location (with a few new locations too) but expanded to 10x the original size. This bookstore is as invested in the local community by supporting non-profits and organizations with a portion of their proceeds.
The Last Bookstore
Location: Los Angeles, California
Bookish Details: What began in an LA loft turned into the largest new and used book and record store in the city. It’s truly a one-of-a-kind bookstore and probably one of the most Instagrammable if you’re into that. From the massive labyrinth above the Last Bookstore to the arts gallery, space for pop-up dinners, and even a yarn shop, there’s something for every single person who walks in. It’s also been voted one of the Top 20 Most Beautiful Bookstores in the World.