Over the past 10 months I’ve been posting reviews of both books I’ve finished recently and those that I’ve read in years past. Since I know I cannot keep up a reading pace to continue to post new reviews three times a week, I’ve decided to introduce a new feature to the blog called Bookish Friday (yipee!) where I’ll talk about bookish things that bring me great joy, or share lists of characters, authors, etc. from my reading journal that I’ve been keeping for the past ten years. Either way, it’ll be focused on fun bookish things, starting with why I love independent bookstores so much.
Towne Book Center
This right here is my favorite bookstore and just happens to be the one I work at. When I first moved to the area in the spring of 2011, one of the first questions I asked my then boyfriend, now husband, was “Where’s the bookstore?”
Growing up in south central PA, our closest bookstore was in a mall – we didn’t have a local independent bookstore that carried a great selection. There was an art gallery with a small children’s section and the battlefields of course had visitors’ centers with specialty books, but it wasn’t the same.
When we first walked into Towne, the employees and owner greeted my husband by name – the store had been around in some way since he was a very small boy and he and his brother had spent countless hours browsing the shelves. When an opportunity came up to work here, I jumped at the chance. I love recommending books to people and when they come back in and tell me they loved it, it just makes my day – especially with kids. It’s hard to ignore the teacher side of me and I love when young readers enjoy the books I’ve picked out for them.
Wellington Square Books
I love Wellington Square – it’s about half the size of Towne Book Center but has a wholly different vibe and collection.
Wellies, as I call it, has a curated collection of both new and used books and the used books offer up something unique to the store – they’re not your typical used books, they’re unique editions of old and classic favorites. I’ve had my eye on a special edition of Peter Pan that’s been on the shelves there for awhile.
Additionally, the second room features law library bookshelves and a sliding ladder, something I’ve always dreamed of having in a bookstore or library of my own. The cafe is lovely, though expect a more European over American approach to the espresso drinks.
The Book Trader
One of my favorite things to do is to go into Philly for a weekend for a concert or a show, and my favorite theater, the Arden, just happens to be across the street and down the block from my favorite used bookstore.
The Book Trader is a store you go into when you have no idea what you want to read. The selection is so extensive and eclectic that you have to go in with the mindset of simply being surprised with what hidden treasures and gems you might find.
The NY Classic
New York, NY
In a city of what feels like a million bookstores, there is only one Strand and no trip to the big apple is complete without a visit.
When my best friend moved to NYC after college, we agreed to visit each other as often as possible and more than once, the Strand has been our meeting place. Four floors, 18 miles of shelves, and a very cool rare book room tops off the store that has been a cultural institution in the city for nearly a century (it’s as old as my grandmother!) If you leave the Strand without buying anything, you’ve done it wrong.
Home Away From Home Bookstore
M. Judson Booksellers
Most years, my husband and I go down to Greenville, South Carolina to stay with his aunt and her family for Christmas. Me being me, I always have to know where the local bookstore is, and they directed me to M. Judson. A few years ago, they moved from the suburbs into the city proper and now live TWO BLOCKS from the bookstore! The last time we were down, I went into the store daily for my morning coffee and to browse around. The staff are awesome and I love talking with them each time I visit.
Anthony Bourdain Recommends
Los Angeles, CA
When getting ready for a visit to Los Angeles which is, admittedly, my least favorite city I’ve ever visited, I figured I would feel better about having to go if I had a bookstore I knew I could visit. And when traveling, who do I turn to for recommendations? Why Anthony Bourdain of course. Book Soup is featured in the Los Angeles episode of The Layover.
Book Soup’s collection is what you would reasonably expect of a bookstore on Sunset in West Hollywood – a nice mix of contemporary and popular titles with a healthy dose of music and film coffee table books and popular entertainment bios.
Most Unique = Books + Wine
On a recent trip to Denver, I took a bookstore tour and found myself at the very unique BookBar. It reminded me a lot of one of my favorite breweries in Ardmore, but if it were a bookstore as well.
The collection features both books on wine, and your typical options, current hot sellers, childrens books upstairs (yes, kids are welcome, just not at the actual bar), and a nice mix of nonfiction works.
The University Store
The Pitt Bookstore has come a very long way since I graduated in the spring of 2011 but while I was there, I was always thrilled that we had our own independent bookstore and we were not a Barnes & Noble college store. The selection has increased greatly in the past few years and is certainly not limited to text books and professor’s own publications.
For a time my husband was considering going to graduate school at the University of Colorado and, as I do whenever travel opportunities arrive, I suss out the local bookstore environment. And while a move to Boulder is no longer seriously on the table, I would love to get back to this wonderful bookstore sometime soon. It has a great selection of new and used books, all in great condition.