My Top 6 Favorite Independent Bookstores

As you may or may not know — depending on your level of book nerdiness — next Saturday (April 27) is Indie Bookstore Day! Throughout the country, independent bookstores will host parties and events to honor the holiday, so check out what those nearest you will be doing! Despite my busy week — I’ve got three midterms and a paper due — I plan to trek over to an indie bookshop to give the community the love it deserves! So, a week ahead of the holiday, I wanted to pay tribute to some of my favorite independent bookstores throughout the country. What would you add to the list?

6. Atticus Bookstore, New Haven, Connecticut 

Situated right across from Yale’s campus, Atticus is a charming bookstore and cafe named, of course, after Atticus Finch from To Kill A Mockingbird. My standout memory from the shop came in 2015 when I bought Go Set a Watchman — Mockingbird’s sequel — there. How perfect, right? The shop has all sorts of interesting books that appeal both to a popular and academic audience, which makes sense given its location. Their breakfasts are also top-notch, so what's better than starting a day off with a good meal and a good book?

Image Courtesy of The Shops at Yale

5. Harvard Bookstore, Cambridge, Massachusetts

I’ve been lucky enough to grow up in Cambridge, Massachusetts, perhaps the world’s epicenter of reading and books — and the Harvard Bookstore is a good representation of that. The bookstore welcomes scores of popular authors and scholars each month, and I myself have gone to a number of those events over the years. I also bought the final Harry Potter book there when I was 9, so in my mind, Harvard Bookstore will forever be associated with that wonderful series!

Image result for harvard bookstoreImage Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

4. Porter Square Books, Cambridge, Massachusetts

Porter Square Books is one of my favorite places. Whenever I hear of a new book I want to read, I always hit this shop first. It’s not far from my house, and they always seem to have what I’m looking for — and if they don’t, it always comes within a few days. I’ve been there so often that I’ve gotten to know who the staff members are, and I think they recognize me, too! The bookstore also has a cute coffee shop inside, and their hot chocolate is definitely one of the best. Porter Square BooksImage Courtesy of Porter Square Books

3. Politics and Prose, Washington, D.C.

My grandparents used to live just minutes away from Politics and Prose, so almost every year for Christmas and my birthday, they’d get me something having to do with this bookstore. In my early years, the gift would be a few picture books, as I got older it would be a chapter book about my latest interest, and in the past few years, it became a nice gift card I could use for myself on my next visit. My grandparents no longer live near the bookstore, so perhaps I ranked Politics and Prose so high more out of sentimental reasons. However, I always spent at least an hour in the store's massive kids and young adult section, and I insisted on going to the shop every time we visited family. Furthermore, as a prominent bookstore in Washington, Politics and Prose welcomed President Obama on occasion and often has well-known authors come for signings.

Politics and Prose 2.jpgImage Courtesy​ of Wikimedia Commons

2. Powell’s City of Books, Portland, Oregon

At first, Powell’s is pretty overwhelming. The bookstore has the length of a city block, and it has miles and miles of shelf space. I ventured inside with my parents while we were visiting Oregon, and as a 13-year-old, I was blown away by their eight rows of long, tall bookshelves devoted solely to young adults. And my mom — a Kennedy aficionado — was impressed with their expansive section on not just John Kennedy himself, but also his assassination alone! We each bought pounds and pounds of books over our few days there ... We couldn’t help it! Luckily, Powell’s had a policy where you’d pay a flat fee of $12.95 and you could ship any number of boxes with books to any place in the country, so we just mailed all our books home!

Image result for powells booksImage Courtesy of Flickr

1. Literati Bookstore, Ann Arbor, Michigan

I can’t say enough about how much I adore Literati. My dad and I first noticed it when I was touring the University of Michigan, and I even mentioned it in my “Why Michigan” essay! Then after I got in, a major reason I liked the university wasn’t its spirit or strong academics but its proximity to this bookstore! Nestled on a corner in downtown Ann Arbor, Literati has well over 100 handwritten staff recommendations on display, passionate and friendly booksellers, and a beautiful typewriter in the basement that anyone can leave a message on — and the notes are often profound. The place really has a booklover feel, and I can’t wait to return soon.Image result for literati bookstore

Image Courtesy of Literati's Twitter