The Best Bookstore in Every State (and D.C.)
Nothing makes our bibliophile heart skip a beat quite like wandering into a neighborhood bookshop, getting lost among the shelves and holing up with our next read. (OK, ideally we’ve got a cappuccino or a glass of wine, too.) And while bookstores may be a struggling breed these days, there are still plenty of literary havens hanging on across the country. Here are 51 spots to put on your bucket list.
Alabama: Page and Palette
Fairhope’s third-generation family-owned bookstore is the kind of place you want to stay all day—and thanks to the on-site coffee shop and bar (with literary-themed cocktails), you can.
Alaska: Title Wave Books
Bookworms up north flock to the state’s biggest bookstore, which offers stacks upon stacks of secondhand tomes. (Bring in your own for cash or store credit.)
Arizona: Singing Wind Bookshop
Consider this a literary pilgrimage: a remote ranch 45 miles east of Tucson, thoughtfully stocked by the proprietor with books about (or by authors from) the Southwest. Yes, this really exists.
Arkansas: Dickson St. Bookshop
This seemingly endless labyrinth of floor-to-ceiling tomes is filled with every kind of book imaginable (including many out-of-print gems waiting to be found).
California: City Lights
It doesn’t get much more iconic than S.F.’s beat landmark and champion of free speech, founded by Lawrence Ferlinghetti in 1953. (Make sure to check out the adorable upstairs Poetry Room.)
San Francisco; citylights.com
Colorado: Tattered Cover
This Denver institution is one of the country’s biggest indie bookstores—it hosts 400 author events every year—but it manages to have the friendliness of a small-town shop.
Connecticut: R.J. Julia Booksellers
Every neighborhood could use a shop like this one, which prides itself on “putting the right book in the right hand.” Look for handwritten staff notes throughout the store and a cozy café.
Florida: Books & Books
Coral Gables’ homegrown bookseller has a healthy selection of cookbooks and art-focused titles (along with general interest), author events galore and, at its larger locations, outdoor cafés.
Multiple locations; booksandbooks.com
Georgia: Avid Bookshop
Located in the funky college town of Athens, this “fiercely independent” shop hosts not only tons of author readings but several in-house book clubs (with themes like classics, social justice and “hot fiction”).
Hawaii: Talk Story
“The Westernmost bookstore in the U.S.” is well worth the trip for its eclectic selection, which includes new and out-of-print volumes and a section dedicated to Hawaiian history and culture.
Hanapepe, Kaua‘i; talkstorybookstore.com
Idaho: Rediscovered Books
This shop is like a book-savvy BFF, always ready to suggest a new read. There’s even a subscription that sends you a book you’re guaranteed to love—if you don’t, swap it for something new.
Illinois: Myopic Books
This three-story repository feels like the collection of a scholarly, slightly eccentric long-lost relative, with thousands of used books towering overhead (and, thankfully, staff to provide some method to the madness).
Indiana: Books & Brews
One part used bookstore, one part bar (with a dash of board games and trivia): This is a concept we can get behind. Even better, the shop accepts all donations and helps support family literacy programs.
Iowa: Prairie Lights
When a bookstore is adjacent to the famed Iowa Writers Workshop, you know it has to be good: Along with hosting plenty of notable authors, it’s known for its book-obsessed staff and excellent coffee shop.
Iowa City; prairielightsbooks.com
Kansas: Rainy Day Books
First off, you gotta love a name that calls to mind cozy days spent reading while it storms outside. Add to that tons of author events and a staff who’s passionate about books and you have a gem amid the Kansas City suburbs.
Kentucky: Carmichael’s Bookstore
These family-owned shops are small but mighty, with a curated selection and a dedication to supporting local authors—they even offer a consignment program for self-published writers.
Louisiana: Faulkner House Books
The erstwhile home of William Faulkner is now a stately shop with a focus on local authors, New Orleans history and, yes, books by and about its namesake.
New Orleans; faulknerhousebooks.com
Maine: Longfellow Books
Along with a great mix of new and used books, this community-focused shop won our hearts with its food-enhanced book clubs and its ever-changing resident, adoptable cat from the local animal rescue.
Maryland: The Annapolis Bookstore
The often hyperbolic phrase “frozen in time” is actually apt here: This store features pressed-tin ceilings, stacks of leather-bound books and a dignified professor’s study ambience.
Massachusetts: Montague Bookmill
With a motto like “books you don’t need in a place you can’t find,” we knew this spot—which houses books, records and a restaurant in a 19th-century gristmill—was our kind of shop.
Michigan: John K. King Used & Rare Books
There are over a million books in this four-story former factory, but you’ll have to find things the old-fashioned way—there’s no digital look-up. (Don’t worry, staffers are there to help.)
Minnesota: Common Good
Owned by Midwest hero Garrison Keillor, this shop wants you to “live local, read large,” and its vast inventory and cheeky organization (“Quality Trash,” anyone?) make it a pleasure.
St. Paul; commongoodbooks.com
Mississippi: Square Books
Housed in an historic building on the town square, this shop boasts an extensive selection of Southern authors. But what really clinches it is a balcony ideal for reading and people-watching.
Missouri: The Book House
While it’s no longer located in the 19th-century Victorian it’s named for, this store still retains most of its homegrown appeal, with a collection of new, used and rare books.
St. Louis; bookhousestl.com
Montana: Montana Valley Book Store
It doesn’t get any more charming than a lovingly tended book collection, run by a mother and son, out of a turn-of-the century former butcher shop in a tiny railroad town (population: 420).
Nebraska: Francie & Finch
This seven-month-old newcomer takes its name and fearless spirit from two beloved literary characters (from A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and To Kill a Mockingbird, respectively).
Nevada: Sundance Books and Music
Picture a pristine century-old mansion filled with books and you pretty much have this establishment. Inside, you’ll find an engaging staff and a frequent-reader loyalty program.
New Hampshire: Gibson’s Bookstore
It’s not every day you get to visit a 119-year-old shop (it moved locations in 2013), which still draws crowds for a giant selection, author talks and Nutella crepes at the store café.
New Jersey: WORD
In the four years since it opened, this Jersey City shop has quickly become a local mainstay for its enthusiastic staff, events ranging from mystery book clubs to kids’ storytimes, tasty coffee and sidewalk seating.
Jersey City; wordbookstores.com
New Mexico: Collected Works Bookstore
This mother-daughter-run store stands out even in über-artsy Santa Fe, thanks to cozy seating, a fireplace, locally roasted coffee and sections dedicated to Southwest and Native American history.
Santa Fe; collectedworksbookstore.com
New York: Housing Works Bookstore Café
In what is arguably the country’s most dense population of book nerds, this nonprofit takes the cake for its beautiful bi-level interior, noble cause and, oh yeah, incredible selection of books.
New York; housingworks.org
North Carolina: Battery Park Book Exchange & Champagne Bar
Books. Champagne. Tons of hidden reading nooks. And in case you thought it couldn’t get any better: It’s dog-friendly.
North Dakota: Zandbroz Variety
As the name implies, this isn’t strictly a bookstore (it also carries gifts, stationery and toys), but its frequent author events and scrappy spirit make it qualify in our…book.
Ohio: The Book Loft of German Village
Come for the “32 rooms of bargain books,” stay for the almost-too-cute-to-believe garden courtyard, which has plenty of benches for hunkering down with your newfound treasures.
Oklahoma: Full Circle Bookstore
The Sooner State’s largest indie bookstore is like the old-school library of our dreams, with towering wooden shelves, rolling ladders to reach them and—swoon—a fireplace.
Oklahoma City; fullcirclebooks.com
Oregon: Powell’s Books
No bookstore list would be complete without Portland’s “city of books,” which takes up an entire block. Yes, it’s ginormous, but you’ll find plenty of helpful staff ready to guide you through the never-ending stacks.
Pennsylvania: Baldwin’s Book Barn
That’s not just a catchy name: This is an actual, 195-year-old barn, which now houses thousands of rare and antiquarian books (plus a few animal mascots roaming the stacks).
West Chester; bookbarn.com
Rhode Island: Ada Books
There are bookstores that have everything, and then there are bookstores that feel like someone’s personal collection. This intimate shop is the latter, peppered with lit mags, quirky cards and local authors.
South Carolina: M. Judson
Named for a famed women’s-education advocate, this women-run “modern literary hub” lives up to the moniker with a food- and home-focused collection and Sunday suppers.
South Dakota: Mitzi’s Books
A smiling illustration of the shop’s namesake greets you here, and while she's passed on, the shop carries on her book-loving legacy with its two floors of amazing reads and helpful employees.
Rapid City; mitzisbooks.com
Texas: The Wild Detectives
Dallas’s hip gathering place specializes in fiction, poetry and Spanish-language lit, plus top-notch food and coffee. And how could you not love a place with a “buy a book, get a drink” policy?
Utah: Pioneer Book
We were sold on the kitschy-adorable facade alone, but the wide-ranging selection of used books (think everything from religious studies to YA), beyond-reasonable prices and friendly staff sealed the deal.
Vermont: Northshire Bookstore
Frequent bookstore-goers know atmosphere is everything, and this shop inside an old inn has it in spades. It also has a comprehensive stock (including a floor for kids’ books) and a built-in café.
Virginia: One More Page Books
Not only does this place sell books—a curated, varied selection that always has fresh staff recommendations front and center—it sells wine and chocolate. Aka the perfect one-stop shop.
Washington: Elliott Bay Book Company
Amazon may have opened its first brick-and-mortar outpost in Seattle, but if you ask us, it’s hard to top this high-ceilinged favorite, which brings big events and cozy vibes in equal measure.
Washington, D.C.: Politics & Prose
The nation’s capital is home to a fittingly named book haven, community gathering space and café, which hosts A-list author talks (and, FYI, carries much more than just political titles).
Washington, D.C.; politics-prose.com
West Virginia: Taylor Books
Bookstore, café and art gallery, all rolled into one adorable storefront. And if the atmosphere doesn't win you over, the tiramisu will.
Wisconsin: Woodland Pattern Book Center
This community staple is an actual nonprofit, which means it’s able to stock small-press titles you won’t find elsewhere without worrying about being a best-seller machine.
Wyoming: Wind City
This shop is notable for its focus on regional authors (hello, Wild West tales!) and, infamously, for banning cell phones and Wi-Fi.