This weekend I will be in Staunton, VA signing my book, The Travelers, at the Sacred Circle Bookstore and Gift shop. (If you live or happen to be nearby come and see me!) Sadly, finding a bookstore like this one is rare. While I love my local Barnes and Noble (I will take any place where I can get physical books), I miss the small book retailers, the unicorns of the book world. There are so few now.
Recently, I read a book called The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry about a man who owns a small, independent bookstore. I adored everything about this book, particularly how the bookstore itself became a character, beloved, aging, a little broken with a lot of heart and personality. This is what I love about independent bookstores. The Barnes and Nobles of the world are large, slick and wonderful, like a big city with an unending variety of options, something for everyone. While independent bookstores are the small towns with character, spirit, friendly faces and lots of quirk, just like Sacred Circle. These are the stores that make you feel like books are your home.
If you’re looking to find those unicorns, they do still exist. Sacred Circle in Staunton, VA is a perfect example. Here are some others near where I live in Northern Virginia and around the US.
Amazing Independent Book stores near me in NOVA
One More Page Books in the Arlington/Falls Church, VA area – A store that celebrates books and hosts numerous writer events. It also sponsors an annual NOVA Teen Book Festival. The next one will be held in March 2017.
Busboys and Poets, Arlington, VA – You may know this one. I’ve heard it’s famous. There is more than one location throughout the NoVa and DC area. President Obama apparently frequented the DC establishments for a bite to eat from time to time.
Hole in the Wall Books, Falls Church, VA – Every nook and cranny is filled with books. You practically trip over them when you walk through the narrow aisles. It’s great.
Prospero Books, Manassas, VA – I love a bookstore named after a Shakespeare character. This adorable store is in the heart of Old Town Manassas. I think it’s fun to peruse their very old books and sometimes they even have a few antiques.
Reston’s Used Book Shop, Reston, VA – Nestled in the wonderful Lake Anne area, this used bookstore is large and full of books of any genre. It’s easy to get lost in there.
Amazing Independent Bookstores in Other Parts of the US
Strand Book Store, New York, NY
Opened in NYC in 1927 and is the only shop left in what used to be NYC’s “Book Row” and it shows no signs of shuttering. I remember walking by and always stopping to look at the books sitting outside. Here’s hoping for 87 more years.
Elliott Bay Book Company, Seattle, Wash.
Although it moved in 2010, this bookstore has remained an institution in Seattle for over 40 years.
Green Apple Books, San Francisco, CA
In a building over 100 years old, Green Apple Books has cluttered shelves, creaky floors and a huge collection. It is easy to new books to fall in love with.
Mercer Street Books & Records, New York, NY
A small NYC purveyor of pages that specializes in rare, out of print and used books. This place is a truly a unicorn for managing to stay open.
John K. King Used And Rare Books, Detroit, MI
Nestled in a sprawling, previously abandoned, four-story glove factory has over one million volumes in stock and has staff outfitted with walkie-talkies to help customers.
The Last Bookstore, Los Angeles
Sprawling, artistic, unique and we haven’t even started talking about the books yet.
The Montague Bookmill in Montague, Massachusetts
This bookstore is in a Shakespearean-named town and housed in gristmill built in 1842. Oh and it has a catchphrase “Books you don’t need in a place you can’t find.” What’s not to love?
Blue Bicycle Books, Charleston, SC. This bookstore hosts a creative writing camp for kids every summer and they have something called the YALLFest for YA novelists and book lovers.