Did you ever notice how almost all iconic rom-coms have a bookshop scene? A tounge-tied Hugh Grant first met Julia Roberts in his travel bookshop in Notting Hill, Billy Crystal stared at Meg Ryan from the “Personal Growth” section in When Harry Met Sally (starting their tumultuous friendship/will-they-won’t-they love affair), Kate Winslet tells Jim Carrey off in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind...the list goes on and on.
And then there are all the IRL love affairs that start in bookshops—you know, with Bukowski, Tao Lin, and the like. And while I love Barnes & Noble and The Strand as much as the next person, there’s just no way they could ever measure up to the small hole-in-the-wall indie bookshops I find whilst walking down St. Marks or through Greenpoint. So, for the love of modern literature, I’ve listen some of NYLON’s favorite used bookshops around the country, which I plan on hitting with a large backpack and this Loop Theory Hyperspace Library mini on hand.
New York: McNally Jackson
There’s nothing like curling up with a good book, a cup of joe, and some like minded individuals. At McNally Jackson, you can browse their selection of big-name books and lesser-known gems, organized by country, and then head downstairs where they host various discussions, readings, poetry readings, and bookclubs.
San Francisco: KAYO Books
Roam around downtown San Fran and you’ll find KAYO, a magical bookshop specializing in vintage paperbacks from the ’40s to the ’70s. Most are first edition, out-of-print copies from the realm of pulp fiction to sinful sleaze to counterculture non-fiction. But be warned: It’s easy to fall down the rabbit hole in this off-kilter haven.
Los Angeles: The Last Bookstore
Originally started nine years ago in a downtown LA loft, The Last Bookstore now occupies a 16,100 square-foot space, complete with a record shop and coffee bar. With over 100,000 used books priced at a dollar each, there’s no way you can walk out with less than ten must-reads.
Nashville: Parnassus Books
Parnassus is the brainchild of best-selling novelist Ann Patchett, who wanted to revive the brick-and-mortar bookshops and restore them to their former glory in the digital age. Has she succeeded? Seeing as we count Parnassus among our Nashville must-sees, we’d say so.
Boston: Brookline Booksmith
This may just win the award for the cutest local bookshop ever. Located in Coolidge Corner, the shop hosts all the best-sellers you could ever imagine and has an entire used book cellar. The community-oriented shop also hosts a bevy of free author q+a’s in-house and some large events across the street at the Coolidge Corner Theatre.
Austin: Farewell Books
Where do we start with Farewell Books—should it be the galaxy of first editions, their gallery of framed prints, or perhaps their extensive catalog of counter culture paperbacks and comic books? We can’t decide, so do yourself a favor and visit the shop, or even the website, and get back to us.
Have any other indie bookshop recs? Share them with us in the comments and we’ll love you forever!