What is it about a bookstore? Maybe it’s the hushed voices or the smell of paperbacks. Maybe it’s the quiet companionship of fellow book-lovers, each immersed in their own private world, as they flip through pages or read in cozy chairs. For all the bookworms out there, here are four incredible bookstores in the U.S. you need to visit.
Harvard Book Store, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Across the street from the venerable red bricks of Harvard University sits the storefront of Harvard Book Store. An independent shop open since 1932, Harvard Book Store is unaffiliated with the university — if you're looking for Harvard gear, head down the street to the Harvard Coop. But if you’re in the market for a local bookstore with intelligent staff and an impressive selection, then you’ve found the place.
The main floor is dedicated to best sellers, new fiction and non-fiction, in addition to writing supplies like stationery, journals and fine pens. For used books, head down the stairs at the front of the store. The basement is a veritable treasure trove, with everything from fiction to cookbooks, and you’re sure to find something affordable to take home.
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA
Strand Book Store, New York, New York
New York’s Strand Book Store has been open for an impressive 92 years. Considered a New York literary institution, Strand was opened by a Lithuanian immigrant, Benjamin Bass, who saved and borrowed a total of $600 dollars to open the shop in Greenwich Village.
Today, the store still remains in the Bass family. The only remaining store on “Book Row,” Strand boasts “18 miles of books,” which comes out to an impressive 2.5 million in paperbacks and hardcovers. Filled with endless stacks and shelves of new and used books, Strand has just about any type of book you’d like to get your hands on. Plus, the top floor holds the rare book room and has the best seating, if you’re looking to curl up and get cozy for an afternoon.
828 Broadway, New York, NY
The Last Bookstore, Los Angeles, California
A proud L.A. establishment, The Last Bookstore is more than a new-and-used book shop — it also contains a record store, a curio shop and a number of Instagram-worthy art installations. From the famous book tunnel to the photo-friendly book loop, this bookstore is fun and experiential. It also has the feel of a community gathering space, with numerous comfy couches for reading and conversing, and events lined up for months. The store also welcomes books, CDs, DVDs and records to sell or trade, and of course, book donations are always welcome. Just be forewarned, they do not permit large bags or backpacks inside the store.
453 S. Spring St, Los Angeles, CA
Powell’s Books, Portland, Oregon
A favorite among locals and visitors alike, Powell’s City of Books is the largest independent bookstore in the world. In fact, this Portland, Oregon, institution is mammoth. The rooms are color-coded into nine different sections, over multiple floors. The top floor holds the Rare Book Room, which is home to 9,000 volumes alone. There’s also an extensive children’s section, a coffee room and an “Espresso Book Machine” for printing self-published books. Plus, Powell’s offers free tours every Sunday. If you’re not planning a visit to this quirky city anytime soon, you can order from Powell’s extensive collection online. But when you see it in person, make sure to set aside a couple of hours for perusing the store’s endless stacks.
1005 W. Burnside St., Portland, OR