After posting my dream to open a bookstore/café on Facebook—a fantasy if there ever was one—friends’ enthusiasm floored me. Some posted about the resurgence of successful independent bookstores; others emailed practical advice. One exchange turned into a date to catch up in person. The support helped me remember why I fell in love with books in the first place.
During my twenties I wanted to have a hobby farm someday. That dream is still there, but over the last few years, my passion for books has become an anchoring force. After all, if the first question you ask in a new locale is “Where’s the bookstore?” it’s possible books belong front and center in your life.
In my current neighborhood, the predominantly Irish enclave of Woodlawn, book lovers must venture to Manhattan or Westchester for their literary fix. Since Barnes & Noble closed last year in the Bronx’s Baychester neighborhood—the borough’s only bookstore—Bronx native Noëlle Santos is on her way to opening The Lit. Bar. Women like Noëlle remind me how it’s possible to meet a need through the support of an energized community. It’s also significant that with a few exceptions, bookstores seem to thrive most in affluent areas—a la gentrified Brooklyn.
My dream is to be part of a place for readers of all ages to gather, participating in events ranging from literary readings and book clubs to social justice work, especially work related to mental health advocacy. Plush couches, fresh snacks, and ample outlets would abound. In the meantime, below is a list of some of my favorite bookstores in New England, New York City, and the Inland Northwest, as well as some bucket list goals! Where are your favorite literary spots?
Auntie’s (Spokane, WA)
The Well~Read Moose (Coeur d’Alene, ID)
Bucket List Bookstores
Books Are Magic (Brooklyn)
Elliott Bay Book Company (Seattle, Wa.)
The Hickory Stick Bookshop (Washington Depot, Conn.)
Parnassus (Nashville, Tenn.)
Powell’s City of Books (Portland, Ore.)