I’ve always loved spending time in bookstores. There’s just something magical about wiling away the hours with rows of books towering above you, the to-buy stack in your arms growing heavier and heavier. When I find a new local bookstore to love it feels like Christmas and my birthday all rolled up into one. I just know that I’ll get lost inside, discovering different authors and leafing through stacks of new books. So today we’re honoring Independent Bookstore Day.
This is a feeling that only truly happens for me in independent bookstores. There’s an intimacy and feeling of community that the large chains are lacking, with quirky corners and funky photos on the wall and old hardwood floors that creak when you step on them. Independent bookstores are the cornerstone of our reading communities, which is why it’s so awesome that they seem to be on the rise again after it seemed like those giant companies who dominate the book-selling world might wipe them out for good.
It’s also why a day like Independent Bookstore Day is so important. Started in 2014 in California, the event became national the next year, and has swelled in numbers ever since. This year, the celebration is on Saturday, April 29, and almost 500 independent bookstores are participating across the country. Every bookstore is celebrating in their own way, some with parties, cupcakes, decorations, readings, local authors, live music, exclusive deals, and so much more. If you love reading and you love supporting local businesses (and who doesn’t?), then this is an event you won’t want to miss.
There’s a complete list of all the bookstores participating in this awesome event, but I encourage you to visit your local bookshop on Saturday regardless. I’ll be stopping by two of my favorite spots, Phoenix Books and the Crow Bookshop in Burlington, Vermont. But there have been a lot of small bookstores that I’ve fallen in love with over the years.
Here are four of my favorite stores, scattered all across the country, as we remember to shop locally on Independent Bookstore Day.
Community Bookstore, Brooklyn, New York
I used to live right above the Community Bookstore in Park Slope, Brooklyn, and I’d pass by several times a day. It has the most charming interior – dark and cozy, with a carefully selected collection of books. There’s even a garden in the back, where you can sit in the sun and read, isolated from the noise and the traffic of Brooklyn. They also host readings and events, with famous authors from all over the city coming to chat with local crowds. Living so close to this bookstore made me feel like part of a literary community that was vibrant and welcoming.
City Lights Bookstore, San Francisco, California
When I visited a friend in San Francisco, she made sure that we stopped by City Lights, certain that I would fall in love. And she was right! As soon as I stepped into the crowded, rambling store, I knew that we’d be there for hours. A beatnik paradise (and co-founded by poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti!), City Lights has room after room, with dark corners and funky floors. Whenever I think of San Francisco I wish I was back in this store, rummaging through their endless stacks of books.
The Toadstool Bookshop, Keene, New Hampshire
My mom, a first-grade teacher, would always take us to the Toadstool each summer so that she could pick out books for her classroom. My sisters and I would spend hours in this shop, carefully selecting the books we wanted, reading them while sprawled across the floors, or playing hide-and-seek between the rows. The bookshop was in an old mill turned into a shopping mall, with traditional brick walls, high industrial ceilings, and a food-court covered in glass windows. It has since changed location, though it’s still open and there are other locations in New Hampshire. But no matter where it is, the Toadstool will forever be one of my favorite indie bookstores.
Boulder Book Store, Boulder, Colorado
I remember passing this bookstore while visiting my sister who lived in Boulder. We were strolling down Pearl Street, a traffic-free shopping area, when the gorgeous gold lettering caught my eye. My sister instantly groaned, knowing that I was going to drag her inside for hours. Which I did, obviously. With three stories and thousands of books, I could have lived in that store for the rest of the day. Roaming through those rows, floor after floor, is still the highlight of my trip – just don’t tell my sister.