What are your favorite bookstores?

I’m a huge fan of slowly browsing bookstores, wandering the shelves and serendipitously discovering scores of interesting volumes. I particularly like used bookstores, as they more often tend to have a distinct personality and eclectic stock. Here are a few of my favorites; would love to hear yours as well!

New York





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For NYC: The Book Culture on 114th right near Columbia/Barnard has a diverse collection on the 2nd floor that includes more foundational books (versus their pop culture derivatives peppered on the 1st floor).


I’ve always wanted to check out The Mysterious Bookshop, which is all mystery book themed! https://www.mysteriousbookshop.com/


If you ever happen to find yourself in Madison, Wisconsin, I can vouch for Paul’s Book Store

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San Francisco has a lot of great ones!

Alley Cat on 24th Street, both Dog-Eared locations (one on Valencia, one on Castro), City Lights on Columbus… all cozy, well-stocked, a little bit magical. My personal favorite is Alley Cat because it’s both a beautiful well-lit space and has a huge selection of leftist books. City Lights has a small second floor dedicated to poetry and there’s even a nice little rocking chair where you can take your time and read some poems.


+1 to City Lights in north beach, and Dog-Eared Books on Valencia in SF. I also have a soft spot for Green Apple on Clement (and their newer store in inner sunset).


If any of you are ever in London, then here are a few suggestions…

Daunt Books, in Marylebone
There are about half a dozen branches of Daunt around, but the one in Marylebone is the one that everyone means if there’s an unqualified mention of the shop.

London Review Bookshop, in Bloomsbury
The book (and cake) shop of the London Review of Books (but not cakes)

Hatchards, in Piccadilly
Old, slightly posh, gorgeous, and old.

Libreria, in Spitalfieds
There are 2 things said early on in every discussion of Libreria, so it would be tedious of me to mention those.

Foyles, on Charing Cross
The previous incarnation of this huge independent shop was renowned for it’s… let’s say, “eccentricity”. Though the modernised store has lost much of that quirkiness it remains one of the best (and largest) book shops in central London.


Awesome, love seeing ones for London, SF, and other cities I’m not too familiar with.

At some point in the future it’d be fun to compile all the replies here into a sort of crowdsourced map, like “world’s best independent bookstores”, noting contributors for each city. Will keep that in mind :smiley:

Books are magic! I wish it had a bigger archive of weird / old / musty books but it’s a great community hang and they have a huge kids space in the back :slight_smile:

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My favorite bookstore, and the bookstore that really got me into reading ‘deeper’ and ‘weirder’ stuff was Farewell Books in Austin TX, but it closed down a few years ago because their rent was too high.

One of the proprietors of the store still maintains a sort of bookshop on Instagram, which is really cool. It still has the same vibe of the books they used to keep in stock at Farewell:

Apart from Farewell, my other fav Austin haunt was Half Price Books, which has an online storefront you can use in place of Amazon for most books. The selection is huge.


Ah! How is The Strand not on here for New York? I love their mix of old & new. Deep in the basement i found an illustrated travel journal of W.H Auden’s trip to Iceland.

Also, if you’re ever on the Greek Island of Santorini, highly recommend making the trip to Atlantis Bookshop. It’s a cute mix of zines, and books in many different languages.

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Haha I will confess that I’ve lived in NYC for over seven years now but have only been to the Strand…maybe like twice! Partly I just prefer smaller bookstores and partly I rarely go into Manhattan. Realizing I also did not mention Powell’s (in Portland OR) above, which of course is also great, but maybe felt almost too big and obvious. Agree both def belong on any sort of canonical best of indie bookstores list!

Word in Greenpoint, Brooklyn is great. Very helpful staff.

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I love these photos! Just looking at them is soothing :relaxed:

The Kinokuniya in Bryant Park in NYC is great too–love going to the basement to check out the knitting/sewing books and stationery, and then going upstairs to browse the manga and drink a bubble tea.


A few more in NYC:

Mercer St Books (right by NYU) is nice and I hope they survive in their location! Dashwood photo and art books is right around the corner. I rarely buy anything there but it’s tiny and beautiful.

Bluestockings on Allen St is a collectively owned radical bookstore that also hosts readings and events for activist groups. I try to buy theory / lefty stuff there to support what they’re doing. They have $1 coffee and grown by zapatistas lol

Topos in Ridgewood has some uncommon stuff in the used selection. And coffee / zines / etc.

+1 for Unnameable! Best bookstore in nyc imo :smiley:


last weekend I stumbled upon Molasses Books in Bushwick. It was such an aesthetic capsule, dim lit cafe/bookstore, people chatter and moody music… I briefly considered moving to the neighborhood just so I could make this a regular spot. I think it captures the vibe of used books and unhurried time.


Dang that is a ringing bookstore endorsement if I’ve ever heard one. Adding to my list! I feel like there are enough NYC folks here we could put together a fun day-long bookstore hop sometime… :smiley:

Been meaning to check out Bluestockings! I think I signed up for their email list but I’ve never visited. Seems kind of similar to another one I visited once in Austin, Monkeywrench Books.

Topos sounds great too. I haven’t been to Ridgewood, but reminded me of this:

Sounds amazing, I’d love to try visiting sometime. (The proprietor, Richard Kostelanetz, is interesting for other reasons too; his website is one of the best artist/writer websites I’ve seen in my life.)

Admittedly I haven’t visited em all but so far I agree! Small but super well curated and the mix of used + new books is great. I love the shelves in the front where they feature new stuff (newly acquired used books, I mean!), I always find at least a couple really cool things I’d never heard of before.

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That reminds me that Spoonbill opened a store over on Montrose near Manhattan. It’s a great spot.

Looks like the Bronx is finally getting what sounds like an incredible indie bookstore — The Lit Bar! Still kind of in soft launch phase, I think, but as soon as they’ve got regular hours I’m looking forward to a visit!