Unique, Independent Bookstores we Love

Remember Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan's classic movie from the late 90's, You've Got Mail? Two lovable characters in Manhattan who fall in love with each other over email, but hate each other in person? Tom's character, Joe Fox, and Meg's character, Kathleen Kelly, are as charming as the actors who play them and make, even men, enjoy romantic comedies (whether they admit it or not). Know what was more endearing to me than the characters? The bookstore.

Meg/Kathleen ran the little bookstore called The Shop Around the Corner. She read all the books, knew all the customers and greeted them as friends as they walked in the door. You won't see me write anything negative about Barnes and Noble. I feel very blessed to be on the shelves there and am especially fond of my friend and manager, Kate, at the Houston Westheimer location. I do, however, love the small, local bookstore with the personal service from someone who loves books as much as I do. Small, independent bookstores seem to be a dying breed, sadly, and this post is an effort to celebrate what amazing gems they are to book lovers.

My co-author, Katie, had the honor of reading at Square Books, Jr. in Oxford, Mississippi this week. Square Books is one of the most wonderful, charming, well-known independent bookstores in the country. Plus, Katie's degree from Ole' Miss, the Oxford Eagle's cover praise for River Royals, and the overall charm of this literary town makes the River Royals' reading there a surreal milestone. Thus, I'm going to start my list of amazing and unique independent bookstores with Square Books.

Katie reading River Royals Master the Mississippi at Square Books, Jr.

Katie reading River Royals Master the Mississippi at Square Books, Jr.

1. Square Books, 160 Courthouse Square, Oxford, Mississippi - www.squarebooks.com

Earning the title of "Bookstore of the Year" from Publishers Weekly in 2013, it's no wonder that Square Books in Oxford, Mississippi is local John Grisham's venue choice when launching new books. It has a 30-year track record of providing wonderful service to customers on the town square in the middle of Oxford. Square Books also uniquely runs the Thacker Mountain Radio Show, inviting authors to call in and read from their work. They also boast over 150 author events per year. 

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2. Kramerbooks & Afterwords Cafe and Grill, 1517 Connecticut Avenue, Washington, D.C. - www.kramers.com

A bookstore, coffee shop and restaurant, oh my! This cool bookstore in our nation's capitol is open 24 hours on Friday and Saturday and has earned the reputation for being book-lovers pick-up venue. What a great idea - a literary-minded dating hot spot!

3. The Booksmith, 1644 Haight Street, San Francisco, California - www.booksmith.com

Located in the colorful Haight-Ashbury neighborhood of San Francisco, The Booksmith hosts an impressive list of author visits and events, including "book swaps" in which customers come together to trade used books. We love how friends and strangers can share the book love at no expense.

4. Harvard Book Store, 1256 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, Massachusetts - www.harvard.com

In addition to rubbing elbows with Ivy League smarties and browsing everything from text books to children's books, Harvard Book Store offers bicycle book delivery if you're staying in the area. Should you decide to visit the store in person, you'll have the opportunity to print and bind any of millions of titles in minutes from the store's "book-making robot." Leave it to Harvard to create a "book-making robot!"

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5. Taylor Books, 226 Capitol Street, Charleston, West Virginia - www.taylorbooks.com

Charming Taylor Books offers live music on Saturday and Sunday nights, fresh pastries each morning, delicious quiches on Sunday mornings, a collection of artwork from local artists, a drawing studio, a collection of hard-to-find magazines and a cafe! As Liz Lemon would say, "I want to go to there."

6. Beauty and The Book, 608 North Polk Street, Jefferson, Texas - www.beautyandthebook.com

As a southern girl, I love this concept! Beauty and The Book is the only full-service hair salon and book store in the United States! It is also the headquarters of the Pulpwood Queens and Timber Guys Book Clubs with 500 chapters across the nation and in 10 foreign countries. Curl up with a good book with curlers in your hair!

7. Lemuria Books, 202 Banner Hall, Jackson, Mississippi - www.lemuriabooks.com

In addition to the River Royals reading scheduled for July 19th (shameless plug), we love Lemuria Books for lots of reasons! It's open early and closes late, has a great children's book collection, hosts an amazing blog that is updated daily, runs a super first-editions club and maintains a rare book room. This bookstore is a must-visit if you find yourself in Jackson. Did I mention you can catch the River Royals there on July 19th?

Enjoy these wonderful bookstores this summer!

Sarah