As an avid reader, my home is filled with books. Whether it is one bookshelf or five or a coffee table made out of stacks, there are piles of books in every nook and cranny. Old copies and new copies, leather-bound and paperbacks, first or signed editions, not yet read or spines broken from love, all are special. Despite constantly checking out books from the library (I currently have thirteen check-outs), I still could never stop buying books. Reading transports you to a different world, but buying books can be an adventure all its own.
One of my favorite activities is scouring local new and used bookstores. My most frequented are the Friends of the Princeton Public Library Used Bookstore (located on the first floor of the library) and Princeton’s own Labyrinth Books. When I am in another city, state or country, I make it a habit to stop at a local shop. Here are a few of my favorites that never cease to inspire.
City Lights Bookstore – San Francisco, CA
As a fan of the Beat Generation and the Pocket Poet Series, a trip to City Lights was a must for me. This iconic and historic shop was everything I’d hoped it would be and more. Finding new poetry and picking up some old favorites in the Poetry Room, perfectly placed under a street sign aptly named “Via Ferlinghetti,” was an amazing experience.
The Last Bookstore – Los Angeles, CA
The Last Bookstore has become a tourist sensation in L.A. and with good reason. Not only are their shelves lined with new and used books, but they have turned the pages into, quite literally, art. There are tunnels made of books to walk through and “book birds” flying overhead. For those Harry Potter enthusiasts like myself, this store is truly magical.
Baldwin’s Book Barn – West Chester, PA
When entering Baldwin’s, you are immediately greeted by the smell of old, yet well loved, books and friendly bookshop cats. From F. Scott Fitzgerald first editions to modern day cooking and gardening books, this 19th century barn has every book you are looking for and all the ones you don’t yet know you need.
Mac’s Backs – Cleveland Heights, OH
Mac’s Backs was a quaint little bookstore consisting of new, used and signed books and literary paraphernalia. Along with some used poetry books and a signed Dave Eggers book, I came away with some nice book-themed “swag” and a chocolate milkshake from Tommy’s, the adjoining cafe.
Small World Books – Venice Beach, CA
Small World was a bookstore I did not expect to find (but those are the best kinds, right?). While exploring the beach communities of Santa Monica and Venice, I noticed a sign for a bookshop nestled behind a small restaurant. I went in and was amazed. Not only did they stock today’s best-sellers, but they had a vast collection of small press and local authors that I loved discovering. Buying a new book and reading it on Venice Beach was the highlight of that trip.
If there is one thing I love more than reading and visiting bookstores, it’s talking about books and the shops. So, next time you’re visiting the library, stop by the Information Desk and share some of your favorites!
Cover photo taken by me, Dana Treichler, while visiting Baldwin’s Book Barn in West Chester, PA.
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