I’m guessing that most readers and authors alike would agree that Book Passage is one of the all-time great indies, with locations in San Francisco, Sausalito, and Corte Madera, which graciously hosted me for a reading of My Last Continent. It was one of the most fun events Admiral Byrd and I had on the book tour, especially for the chance to catch up with longtime friends.
Book Passage is known for hosting world-famous authors, and thanks to its three locations, no one in the Bay Area need miss out on books or author events, which include book groups; classes for writers, kids, and teens; and food and wine events.
The suburban Corte Madera location is a wonderful, sprawling store with a lovely event space, and it’s also an amazing place to browse. The staff is truly passionate about books, as well as the book industry as a whole, and with its myriad events for all readers and authors, Book Passage is above all a community space, an incredible model for how indie bookstores can thrive in a changing world.
This bookstore is nearly always included on lists of the world’s best and most beautiful bookstores — and for very good reason. It is spectacular, inside and out.
El Ateneo is undoubtedly the grandest bookstore I’ve ever seen in person. This Buenos Aires treasure was a theater in the early twentieth century, and in the early twenty-first century it was redesigned into a bookstore.
The theater’s 1,500 seats were converted to book alcoves, and a cafe has taken up residence where the stage used to be. As you can see below, this stunning bookstore proudly maintains its history as a theater, from the lighting to its balconies to its gold-leaf carvings.
There are cozy reading nooks throughout the store, and even if you’re not fluent in Spanish, the browsing is unbelievably fun. For all bookstore geeks, El Ateneo is a must-see if you’re in Buenos Aires, or anywhere remotely close.
Before last summer, it had been years since my last event at Warwick’s, and, as always, it is fabulous to visit this quaint bookstore in the heart of La Jolla…I’ve missed it both as a reader and a writer.
Warwick’s is the oldest family-owned and -operated store in the country. Above the door is printed: “Independent minds need independent bookstores,” and this store lives by this motto in its diversity of visiting authors as well as its curated selection of books and gifts. We had a fantastic crowd on the balmy summer evening I was there, and I wasn’t able to browse as much as I normally would have, but I noticed that the store has a new look since I last visited, and the layout was very open and welcoming, even with the event set-up.
The staff of Warwick’s are friendly and helpful, and I was especially delighted by the gift of signature wine Admiral Byrd and I received.
We look forward to returning long before the next book!
The Elliott Bay Book Company was one of the first places I read when my first book, Forgetting English, was published in 2009, at its charming former location in Pioneer Square. Elliott Bay moved to its Capitol Hill location (cedar bookshelves, stained glass, and all) in 2010, and this setting is just as beautiful and welcoming.
On my book tour last summer, Admiral Byrd joined me in exploring the light, sun-filled room on the main level (it was a perfect, sunny day in Seattle). I highly recommend visiting this treasure in person, but those who can’t visit Seattle can order books to have shipped to you. (For example, you can order a signed copy of My Last Continent).
The event space downstairs is lovely, and especially lovely is being able to bring along drinks from the cafe. Admiral Byrd and I had a great evening and so appreciated all those who braved Seattle summer traffic (and left the sunshine to venture inside!) to join us.
It’s wonderful to know that Elliott Bay continues to thrive in its no-longer-new neighborhood, and I look forward to visiting again soon. This is a don’t-miss Seattle landmark for every visitor, especially book lovers.
When you walk into Powell’s (the Burnside entrance), you’ll see this on the wall in front of you to the left…
…and this perfectly describes this mammoth bookstore that is all things literary. Most readers and writers are very familiar with this famous store, which has four additional locations, but of course there’s nothing like the original City of Books.
Its rooms range from wide and airy, like the front entrance, to cozy little nooks, to large rooms where you can get lost in the stacks (which is a great thing). And its event space is gorgeous, lined with books and artwork.
Powell’s is one of many bookstores embracing the Espresso Book Machine, and they also wisely offer online sales for loyal customers and those who prefer to buy from indie bookstores. (If you’re one of those, note that Powell’s has signed copies of My Last Continent in stock!)
Among the best things about Powell’s is the staff’s love of all things literary, and this can be seen around every corner, where you’ll find curated lists of books, like this one celebrating Pacific Northwest writers.
Powell’s is all about the Pacific Northwest, not only in terms of books but everything else about it (which all go well with books).
If you haven’t visited Powell’s, set aside at least two days for a visit when you’re in Portland. It’s one of those places you can’t possibly see in only one day.
*Special thanks to the fabulous Laura Stanfill of Portland’s Forest Avenue Press for taking many of these photos!
It has been a long time since I’ve been in New York, and I loved making the new discovery of Shakespeare & Co. on Manhattan’s Upper East Side.
I had a reading and signing for My Last Continent here, with a little time to browse the store before the event. There is a lovely cafe in the front, leading the way to the books, and Françoise Brodsky, my lovely host and the bookstore’s director of community, introduced me to the store’s Espresso Book Machine, which is used to print out mainstream backlist titles, print-on-demand books from small presses, and also self-published books. Learn more here.
Downstairs is a large, inviting room for events, where Admiral Byrd posed with copies of the novel.
Located on Lexington between 68th and 69th, this is a wonderful bookstore for with all you need: food, caffeine, books, and even books on demand. I look forward to returning and hope it’s not decades before I’m back in New York again!
I was delighted to celebrate My Last Continent‘s book launch in my former hometown of Boston, where I was able to do a brief “Facebook Live” reading from Antarctic explorer Admiral Richard Byrd’s former home on Beacon Hill before an event at one of Boston’s most wonderful treasures, Papercuts J.P.
Kate and Katie (Kate Layte, owner and manager, and Katie Eelman, media and events coordinator) are such wonderful hosts; this event (and most events here at Papercuts J.P.) are more like parties than book readings. The store is cozy, and Kate and Katie often match up writers for a more in-depth exploration of books, theme, and genre.
At this event, I joined novelist Mark Beauregard (The Whale: A love story) and Rachel Richardson (Hundred-Year Wave) for readings and a discussion of love, the high seas, research, writing, and so much more.
And perhaps most celebratory of all, on the day of our event, copies of The Papercuts Anthology: What Happened Here, Volume 1 arrived. This terrific anthology features work by writers who visited the store during Papercuts’ first year, including Abigail Thomas, Edan Lepucki, Randy Susan Meyers, Chris Hedges, and many more.
It’s obvious from the nature of our High Seas event and the beautifully edited and designed anthology that both Kate and Katie have a passion for books and a talent for curating them. And, much to my delight, they enjoyed My Last Continent, which later made their list of bestsellers.
The next time you’re in Boston, don’t miss “this tiny Boston icon,” as The Guardian calls it. In the meantime, follow Papercuts J.P. on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
Griffin Bay Bookstore is in the heart of Friday Harbor, Washington, on gorgeous San Juan Island.
Griffin Bay is a must-see when you’re in Friday Harbor, and it’s a particularly perfect spot to visit on a rainy day, with its cozy feel and relaxing cafe.
The bookstore features a great selection of island-related books, as well as all of the latest indie bestsellers. It’s wonderful for browsing not only for books but for all sorts of readerly and writerly things; I especially enjoyed its amazingly diverse and lovely selection of note cards.
Last but not least, Griffin Bay has a truly impressive selection of Theo Chocolate.
I was delighted to visit The Writers’ Workshoppe while I was at the Port Townsend Writers’ Conference last week — this spot is a veritable candy store for writers (literally; the store sells chocolate and other goodies).
This amazing bookstore and writers’ center offers an abundance of books, gifts (fabulous T-shirts, mugs, coffee, writing implements, and other necessities for readers and writers), as well as writing workshops. Owner (and writer) Anna Quinn‘s vision is that of what every bookstore should be — a hub for writers, readers, and all things literary.
It’s especially fun to browse the stacks here, as Quinn does not merely stock the shelves; she is a curator of her inventory and has arranged books by subject and theme as well as the usual categories, with such sections as “Influential Women Writers You May Not Have Read” and “Best Kick-Ass Female Characters.”
This wonderful spot also offers classes, from weekly workshops to one-day intensives, for writers of all levels and genres. These classes are both literary and hands-on: offerings include everything from poetry and fiction to social media and blogging classes for writers.
The Writers’ Workshoppe is located in beautiful downtown Port Townsend and is a must-visit for writers and readers … and those who love them.
It’s autumn — and in New England, that means celebrating the foliage. If you’re out leaf peeping, don’t forget to pop into the local bookstores in all those fabulous New England towns. Woodstock, Vermont, has one of the sweetest: the lovely Shiretown Books, right on the main street as you stroll through town.
The store is small but has plenty to offer, including books by local authors and staff picks, and it’s a terrific place to browse. And it’s a bookstore with a big heart: Last year, in response to Hurricane Irene, which devastated parts of Vermont, including areas of Woodstock, Shiretown gave back by donating a portion of book sales to relief efforts.
Bookstores like Shiretown are among the many reasons it’s wonderful to shop locally — to support not only the indies but the communities that support them best as well.
Northshire Bookstore in Manchester Center, Vermont, is a place for which you’ll want to set aside an entire day.
The bookstore is in a beautiful old Victorian, with several levels, including a full-service cafe on the top level and a large reading area for its many visiting authors.
It’s an fabulous place to wander through — even better, to get lost in — and among its treasures are not only books but clothing, jewelry, accessories, and a huge children’s section that includes toys and games.
Another interesting aspect of Northshire is that it’s one of the growing number of bookstores with an Espresso Book Machine, which means that you can order up any book available through the print-on-demand service (such as self-published books, small press titles, or large publishers’ backlist titles) and have it printed while you wait. And for all you indie authors out there, Northshire also has its own imprint, Shires Press, which offers a variety of packages for authors who want to self-publish their books — a very smart idea and likely one of the many reasons this bookstore is celebrating its 35th birthday and going strong.
What’s not to love about a place where you can buy wine and books all at once? I recently discovered The Kiva in Eugene, Oregon — first drawn in by its sign, which reads “Grocers, Booksellers, Wine Merchants.”
What’s fun about The Kiva is just what the sign indicates: that you can get your grocery and wine shopping done as well as browse for books, gifts, and cards. The grocery prides itself on stocking local and fair-trade foods and beverages, and they have a lot of wonderful wine and beer options, from reasonably priced malbecs to a variety of local microbrews.
I’m not sure what was more fun — to see groceries in a bookstore, or to see books in a grocery store.
The Kiva website highlights everything except the books (books actually comprise a small portion of the store), but the site has a blog that pays a bit more attention to the literary aspect of the place; many of the blog posts focus on books, from summer reading to the books about food, like Forks Over Knives. The bookshelves are stocked primarily with cookbooks, children’s books, and nonfiction — and it’s a fun place to browse. I’d highly recommend stopping in the next time you’re in downtown Eugene, whether you’re there to pick up wine with your books, or books with your wine.
There’s a lot to enjoy about Manhattan Beach, from its miles of sandy beach to its boutiques and shops to its amazing Mexican food — and, most of all, Pages: A Bookstore, a fabulous indie in the heart of the neighborhood at 904 Manhattan Avenue.
I discovered Pages thanks to author Cher Fischer, who held her launch party for her novel, Falling Into Green, at Pages in May.
Pages and its three owners — two of them, Patty and Margot, were there for Cher’s party — are warm, generous hosts, and the bookstore itself is a wonderful, inviting space not only for a book event but for wandering and reading.
In addition to comfy chairs for browsing, the bookstore’s shelves are topped with quotes about writing, from William Faulkner to Thomas Jefferson. The layout is spacious but somehow also offers that cozy feeling of being among a great abundance of books.
Like all good bookstores, Pages is active in its community, with events (including author appearances, game nights, workshops, and book clubs), a monthly newsletter, and an expansive children’s section with beanbag reading “chairs.”
Don’t miss this wonderful bookstore the next time you’re in Manhattan Beach — it’s the perfect place to find your beach reading, and a wonderful respite when you’re ready to step out of the sun.
Hammond’s Books is one of those amazing discoveries you may make only when wandering the streets. I found this fantastic little bookstore while antiquing in St. Louis’s Cherokee neighborhood.
Part of the Cherokee-Lemp Historic District, Hammond’s Books is brimming with books and antiques — with a wonderful collection of used, rare, collectible, and out-of-print books — and it has the same fabulous stepped-int0-the-past feel as the rest of the neighborhood.
Hammond’s offers three floors of book browsing, and there’s espresso and cappuccino available if you need a little caffeine after winding your way through all the narrow aisles and chandelier-lit nooks.
And after shopping at Hammond’s, as long as you’re on Cherokee, save some time for browsing the other eclectic antique stores, where you’ll find plenty of wonderful, dusty old books. And, if you’re into beer (as my companion happened to be), check out the Lemp brewery — a stunning building that fortunately was preserved after Prohibition put the brewery itself out of business.
Maine has a treasure in Longfellow Books, which is in the heart of downtown Portland and an amazing place to browse.
The store doesn’t simply host author events; it hosts parties, and it treats each customer like a cherished guest. Wine is served, along with homemade cookies baked and delivered by a local bookstore supporter who tailors each recipe to the event (for Wendy Call‘s recent event for her book No Word for Welcome, centered around the Mexican Isthmus of Tehuantepec, the cookies were baked with Mexican spices).
And in a lovely gesture, for this year’s Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day, Longfellow Books gave every child child a free book up to a $10 value or the same amount off their purchase, donating 356 free books by the day’s end.
So don’t miss Longfellow Books the next time you’re in Portland. The store offers used as well as new books, and will buy yours as well. It also offers, in true indie fashion, “parking, gift wrapping, advice, dog biscuits, and a wealth of knowledge about books.” It’s well worth an extended visit — and try to make it to an event if you can.