General Question

kevbo's avatar

What's your favorite bookstore or library?

Asked by kevbo (25634points) August 24th, 2008

I’m having a great time reading this book, and I just re-remembered how much I love Maria’s Bookshop in Durango, CO, where I inevitably spend $100 or so every February. I think I like it so much because it’s not gigantic, but always has a fantastic selection of heady and interesting titles—a great substance to fluff ratio. It’s human-scaled in size, but doesn’t suffer from a lack of variety or quality. Having “shop” in the name gives it a touch of old-world flair (without the olde worlde) and sort of evokes the scent new books and the crispness of plain brown wrapper. Every purchase comes with a parking token—something I never use because we always pay the meter before our stroll down main street and because the bookstore is usually our last stop before we get on the road back to Albuquerque.

What’s your favorite? Regale us with some prose.

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28 Answers

wrestlemaniac's avatar

The pagan Library in New york.

glitterrrrfish's avatar

gay bookstore, downtown Atlanta

FiRE_MaN's avatar

barns & noble. They usually have a cafe in the center haha.

I like patrick o’donnell’s books
ex. We Were One.

BronxLens's avatar

In NYC, The Strand They even have an interesting street kiosk near the corner of 59th St. and 5th Ave. on Central Park.

greylady's avatar

(because I live “in the middle of nowhere”- town of 3000)

jeanm's avatar

Orca Books in Olympia, Washington.

augustlan's avatar

Wonder Book & Video, a used and new place in Frederick, Maryland (voted one of the top 10 used bookstores in the country). They also sell rare books, online. I love to spend hours in there, surrounded by the smell of old books.

cyndyh's avatar

Again, I can’t pick one favorite. I probably spend the most at Amazon. I like browsing at Borders and Barnes & Noble, but usually buy from Amazon.

I read a lot from the library in Seattle. The downtown branch is a really neat building with a slow ramp that gets you through all the stacks up several floors. I like a lot of the neighborhood branches, too.

There’s also this cool shop call Seattle Mystery Bookshop. If you love mysteries and love browsing this is a great place. It’s also less than a block from my favorite Italian Restaurant, a great little cafe/coffee shop, and a few blocks from one of my favorite pubs. There’s loads of potential for wandering in and picking up a book from an author that’s an old favorite or someone you’ve never heard of before and sitting to read somewhere close by all afternoon.

tabbycat's avatar

Living in L.A., my library of choice since I was a student has always been the UCLA library. They have a larger percentage of what I want than any public library in the area. I also like to visit the Huntington Library and the Clark Library—and the Pierpont Morgan when I am in New York, and the British Library when I am in London.

As for book stores, that is a harder question. So many of the ones that have meant so much to me are gone. I buy most of my books online these days, which is nice and convenient, but I miss browsing in book stores and feel bad that young people will not grow up with some of the wonderful book store experiences that I had.

BronxLens's avatar

In NYC another favorite is Bookleaves – 304 W 4th at Bank, 212–924-5638
A quaint little store with used books that stays open till late (10 or 11pm depending on the owner’s mood LoL). Love their photography and poetry selection, although be warned, they are a bit cramped, but as a benefit since they are in the heart of SoHo, you’ll be surrounded with plenty of cafes, bistros and restaurants to go to read your purchase with all the leisure time in the world.

marinelife's avatar

All of them.

OK, I do have a few special favorites. Powell’s in Portland, OR; Elliott Bay Book Company in Seattle; Wide World Books and Maps in Seattle; Mysterious Bookshop in Midtown Manhattan.

Sadly, some great independent bookstores I used to haunt are gone.

galileogirl's avatar

In San Francisco, the main branch of the public library is great because it is a convenient space to meet with students because they have a lot of little meeting rooms and they are open on Sunday. Green Apple Books on Clement has a very stable staff so you know whose recommendations to look for and they buy your used books. There is also a mystery book store on 24th Street that has a fabulous selection.

baseballnut's avatar

City Lights in San Francisco – love the atmosphere and the eclectic selection.

I once visited a funky bookstore in Telluride and can’t remember the name. Anybody have any ideas? It was in the same block with Shoot the Moon Bar – if that’s still around.

shrubbery's avatar

Deja vu Books.
It’s a second hand bookstore in a little alcove in a little alley way down near the waterfront of Hobart. It has stacks and stacks and stacks of books, as you can see from the picture, and they are spilling over to tables outside and the smell! oh the smell! it’s amazing. I love the smell of books and it’s enough to get you high in there. mmm :)

sdeutsch's avatar

I just discovered Powell’s in Portland, and it immediately became my favorite bookstore of all time. It’s a full square block in downtown Portland, 4 stories high, and they give you a map when you walk in the door (because otherwise you could get lost in there for days!) I spent a good 5 hours wandering around, but I could’ve stayed there the whole weekend – it was heavenly… =)

shrubbery's avatar

wow sdeutsch that sounds great!

lindabrowne1's avatar

In Portland—definitely Powell’s ( In Seattle Elliott Bay Book Company ( Yum!

lindabrowne1's avatar

Also, check out this awesome website ( where you can find local, independent book stores in your city. From their website:

When you shop at an independently-owned business, your entire community benefits:
The Economy

* Spend $100 at a local and $68 of that stays in your community. Spend the same $100 at a national chain, and your community only sees $43.
* Local businesses create higher-paying jobs for our neighbors.
* More of your taxes are reinvested in your community—where they belong.

The Environment

* Buying local means less packaging, less transportation, and a smaller carbon footprint.
* Shopping in a local business district means less infrastructure, less maintenance, and more money to beautify your community.

The Community

* Local retailers are your friends and neighbors—support them and they’ll support you.
* Local businesses donate to charities at more than twice the rate of national chains.
* More independents means more choice, more diversity, and a truly unique community.

Now is the time to stand up and join your fellow individuals in the IndieBound mission supporting local businesses and celebrating independents.

janbb's avatar

When I’m on Mt. Desert Island in Maine, I love going to Port in a Storm Bookshop in Somesville. It’s relatively small but ahs a great collection of fiction, books on Maine, art books and cookbooks – all things I love. Plus it has a large window in the back with chairs in front of it and a wonderful view of Somes Sound. Can’t beat it for an intellectual and aesthetic experience.

My favorite library is usually the one I’m currently working in because the librarians are so great! :-)

shockvalue's avatar

I live less than a block from Strands right now, and it is 18 miles of pure bliss.

jca's avatar

There’s a great bookstore in Cape Cod in the town of Chatham, called Cabbages and Kings. it’s got all kinds of books about Cape Cod, plus some unusual greeting cards. I go to Cape Cod every summer (tag along on my parents’ vacation) and we usually stop in Chatham at least once and visit Cabbages and Kings.

Dorkgirl's avatar

I’ll chime in on Powell’s, too.
Can’t go wrong with multiple floors, tons of options, new & used books, knowledgable staff.

kevbo's avatar

@jca, great name! Sounds like an English pub.

Knotmyday's avatar

Here are a few- In San Diego, Adams Avenue and 5th Avenue bookstores, followed by Yesterday’s Books up north and the Book Place in La Mesa. In Phoenix, the Poisoned Pen is good when things aren’t too hectic, as well as Bent Cover and Anasazi.

I don’t like the whole glitzy coffee-shop chain-store “Let’s dress up and go hang at Barnes and Noble before the movie starts” vibe at all. I do, however, love browsing through good (and bad) literature with like-minded people.

tabbycat's avatar

@Knotmyday, I haven’t been to Adams Avenue in years, but I agree with you that it is an excellent book store. I’m not familiar with the others you mention, but I agree with your sentiments.

kimigen's avatar

aside from all the great ones already mentioned, i have to add Vroman’s in Pasedena. also Half Price Books in Seattle. happy book hunting!

tabbycat's avatar

I love Vroman’s, though it’s a shadow of what it was when I was growing up in the 1960s. The independent new bookstores were able to keep a much more impressive back stock in those days. It’s just not economically feasible any more.

But I got an education at Vroman’s. I used to save my babysitting money to buy books. They would special-order anything in Books in Print that struck my fancy. I still have fond memories of the retired teachers and librarians who used to work there. They were wonderful, and they taught me so much.

Those days are gone, and I’m beginning to feel a tear coming to my eye.

jca's avatar

i went to cape cod a few weeks ago and cabbages and kings is no more. it was originally in a storefront, and then got relocated to a second floor loft, where i guess it wasn’t successful because it lost the street traffic. it’s sad anyway, that all these little stores are getting eaten up by the biggies barnes and noble and borders.

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