|Photo by me in Aardvark Books, San Francisco|
Amid the very sad news that beloved Cobble Hill bookstore BookCourt is closing, where I had my launch party Jacob Wonderbar and the Interstellar Time Warp, the New York Times recently asked seven authors about their favorite bookstores.
We can do better than seven can’t we? What is your favorite bookstore and why?
While I’m on record as an e-book aficionado, when I do want to buy a paper book for myself or as a gift, I go out of my way to shop at local bookstores. And I have plenty of love and nostalgia for bookstores. I still think they’re going to persist in the e-book era.
Favorite bookstore is a tough choice for me. As an author, I’m so thankful for BookCourt and Books Inc Opera Plaza for hosting me for some memorable events. I loved my pilgrimages to storied bookstores like Shakespeare & Co in Paris and Powell’s in Portland.
But for sheer influence I’d have to go with Bloomsbury Books in Ashland, Oregon. My family used to go to the Shakespeare Festival every summer and we’d make multiple trips to Bloomsbury, where the staff introduced me to David Eddings and all kinds of other authors.
What about you?
Shakespeare and Company! Last year I was fortunate to have travelled to Paris and while there I visited that famous book store. The location wasn't the original one, but I didn't care…many objects from the original book store had been brought there. I went back three more times and bought Hemingway, Baldwin, and Nin. Ah, to be back there again.
Powell's in Portland OR. A wonderful mix of old and older with a soupçon of new.
The Book Barn Niantic CT
I want to be buried there❤️
Agreeing with your posters but can't pick just one, so:
US, West Coast: Powell's in Portland.I live in Vancouver, Canada and annually convince my family we must make a multi-day pilgrimage to this Mecca. The new and used books side by side are fantastic: so much to discover. I need several 2-hour visits to feel like I've 'done' Powell's for the trip.
US, East Coast: The Strand in New York City, largely for the same reason as Powell's. Found an ancient edition of a rare PG Wodehouse there. Fabulous!
Canada: Munro's Books, Victoria, British Columbia. An independent bookstore started by Jim Munro and his then-wife, Alice (yes, that Alice Munro). It moved to its current location about 30 years ago. In an old bank, it looks like a church with Sistine-like ceiling paintings. The staff know their stuff and there's a terrific selection of British books.
Europe: Shakespeare and Company, Paris. Stumbled on this one and loved it. My children adored the resident cat.
Katie Noah Gibson says
Such a tough question! I love Brookline Booksmith in Brookline, MA and the Harvard Book Store in Cambridge – those are my local faves these days as I live in the Boston area. But I adore Blackwells in Oxford, England (where I used to live), Shakespeare & Company in Paris, Book Culture in NYC and so many more.
JOHN T. SHEA says
'A SELECTED HISTORY OF CONTEMPORARY ART'. So THAT'S what cats read!
Cork, the Irish city near which I live has a good Waterstones, though a lot of books are sold here through newsagents-cum-bookstores and even supermarkets. Irish stores often exclude customer's animals, apart from guide dogs, so resident literary cats can rest easy.
Harry Hartog in Woden (https://www.harryhartog.com.au/stores)
It's a quaint, welcoming place, with deep armchairs out the front and bookshelves all around. It feels like a place where you might find an undiscovered treasure, and quite happily while away a few hours exploring it.
Also, they're doing a book launch and signing for me – ME! – next month.
So yeah, I kinda like 'em…
JOHN T. SHEA says
By the way Nathan, your comment system always asks me to tick that I'm not a robot. What have they got against 'bots? I ask because I'm reading John Scalzi's 'LOCK IN' at the moment, where comatose people live in robotic bodies. Machines need love too!
JOHN T. SHEA says
That cat is actually directly ABSORBING the contents of the books under him/her while sleeping. It's a cat thing.
Mirka Breen says
Until she retired to a private residence in March of 2016, Ginger was Orinda Books' greeting cat, and made visiting a doubly joyous experience…
My local bookstore, Prairie Lights in Iowa City, has a renowned book buyer, a cafe, awesome featured readings and a host of events tied to the Iowa Writer's Workshop, but I'm going to pick the little bookstore in my (growing up) hometown, Books on 1st in Dixon, IL. Because when I visit my parents and stop by I get a "hi Alison" by the owner, Larry. Because it brought lattes to Dixon, IL way before McCafe ever did. Because people hang out there and talk to each other. It doesn't have a cat, though. They really ought to get on that.
Bryan Russell says
My own bookstore, of course, though it no longer exists except in memory. But there it shall forever be beautiful.
An appropriate piece in New York Times: Ann Patchett sharing her favorites.
I forgot to mention another fave: Wild Rumpus in Minneapolis. I believe it is mainly a children's bookstore. There are chickens running amok and tucked into various corners are random other animals (chinchillas, birds, ferrets). There's even a viewing spot for mice in the floor! Magical place.
The Book Loft in Solvang, in Santa Barbara County, California.
The whole town is built with Danish architecture from 100 years ago, so the bookstore is in such a neat old building. It also has the Hans Christian Andersen Museum attached to it and a great coffee shop.
Can't wait to go back one day!
I love Powell's! But I live in Portland, so that's kind of a given. We also have Annie Bloom's, which is small and eclectic and wonderful. I'd also give it up for Tattered Cover in Denver. Man I *loved* that place when I lived there.
The Travel Bug in Santa Fe, NM
April Davila says
The Flintridge Bookstore is my local shop, just a mile from the house. They keep things rotating and have some true book-lovers on staff. It's great having them so close. But my all time favorite is Powell's in Portland. I go there when I'm in town visiting my sister. I love, love, love that place.
Alexander Blake says
Powell's Books, Portland, Ore.
There is nigh a "best of" book store list that doesn't mention legendary Powell's and we wouldn't dare diverge from that trend. Occupying an entire city block in downtown Portland, Powell's is the world's largest new and used bookstore, with shelves heaving under the weight of over a million books. They've had to color-code the rooms in an effort to organize the 3,500 different sections, including out-of-print and rare books. The cement used to create the "Pillar of Books" sculpture at the Northwest 11th Avenue and Couch Street entrance contains the ashes of a dedicated former customer.
Masonry and Concrete Repair Caulk
Colorado Springs, CO: Poor Richard's Bookstore
Denver, CO: Tattered Cover
Boulder, CO: Boulder Bookstore
Ogechi Etoniru says
Well, I guess I soul go for kingdom book shop in Ghana. Love the serenity and the cataloguing of the book sessions for easy search.