On the Road? Find a Bookstore

Having recently made a voyage to Ann Patchett’s Parnassus Books, I was tickled to see this week’s New York Times article, Ann Patchett’s Guide for Bookstore Pilgrims. Patchett is one of my favorite authors, and I had been dying to see her famous bookstore. I reveled in the light and airy feel, the healthy children’s book section, and the entire wall of signed copies of her new book, COMMONWEALTH. I came home with a few goodies.

My trip wasn’t a pilgrimage per se. I was visiting Nashville anyway, and made a stop in to the store. That’s one of my favorite things to do when traveling. There’s nothing like a good independent bookstore to get a feel for the unique personality of a town (the cookbook section and community message boards are particularly good for this). Wandering through a well-curated bookstore is also the perfect antidote for the disorientation of travel. I come out calm and refreshed, my bag filled with thought-provoking entertainment for the trip and gifts for those back home. And no matter where I am, I always find my people in a bookstore.

In the past year, I’ve discovered The Galaxy Bookshop in Hartwick, Vermont, and Sherman’s Books & Stationery in Portland, Maine. In Chicago, I found Andersonville’s Women and Children First, and in Baltimore, The Ivy Bookshop.

Patchett’s article has inspired me. I’m putting on my bucket list a trip to an independent bookstore in every state. Our Indie Spotlights are a great place to start. I’ll check in from time to time on my progress. In the meantime, I’d love to hear your stories of stumbled-upon or sought-out bookstores. I’ve got trips planned to Providence, Rhode Island; Philadelphia; and maybe Anchorage. Any recommendations?

Katharine Manning is a middle grade writer who is eager to visit your local bookstore. Until then, you can find her at www.katharinemanning.com, on Twitter, and on Instagram, where she posts lots of pictures of books and bookstores. Also cats. 

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Kate Hillyer
Kate Hillyer writes, runs, and drinks plenty of tea in our Nation's Capitol. She is a poetry judge for the Cybils, and blogs here and at The Winged Pen. An essay she wrote appears in the anthology Raised by Unicorns. You can find her at www.katehillyer.com and on Twitter as @SuperKate.
  1. Hey if you are traveling to Portland Oregon, stop by Annie Blooms and say hi! I work there part time and love to meet up with fellow writers for a cup of after work cocoa!
    We have such a wealth of indie bookstores in Portland I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Powells which you probably know about, and the equally wonderful general bookstores Broadway Books and Another Read Through, and the fabulous children’s book stores A Children’s Place and Green Bean Books.

  2. I was in Women and Children First for over an hour! So many great books. I especially loved the poetry section. Will have to check out The Book Stall, too. Thanks!

  3. I haven’t been to Victoria in many years, but it’s such a gorgeous spot. Thanks for the bookstore recommendation!

  4. How wonderful!

  5. I really enjoyed this post. I wrote to Ann Patchett when I discovered Parnassus had my new kids’ book on its shelves. I treasure a note I received from her. She’s been a favorite of mine for a long time.

  6. Ooh! Time for a road trip. Or two. I loved Munro’s Books in Victoria, Canada, where I was able to pick up a new middle grade release the week it came out on our anniversary trip a few years ago.

  7. Nice post, Kate, and great idea for traveling! I love Women and Children First in Chicago! Also The Book Stall in Winnetka, IL.