If you love books, you’ll likely enjoy checking out the local bookstores in any new town or city you visit. For one thing, it’s a great way to learn about local literature. And for those who like the hunt, you might find a rare edition of a book or one by a hard-to-find author. Or maybe you just need some new reading material to keep you entertained on long journeys or at the beach. No matter the reason, here are some of the best bookstores in the South to keep in mind during your next trip.
Chop Suey Books
Located in Richmond, Virginia, Chop Suey Books is predominantly a used bookstore with roughly 45,000 books on a wide range of subjects, such as fiction, nonfiction, poetry, art and philosophy. The used books are sold in good condition or gently-used condition, and they get new books in frequently—so be sure to check back if you have the time. They also sell newer books such as popular art and fiction books. It’s a must-visit store for used book lovers and especially book lovers who love cats (the store has a pet cat that roams around).
Books & Books
Books & Books is a popular southern Florida bookstore chain. Most of the locations are in and around Miami, but there are also locations in Key West (which is owned by Judy Blume) and the Cayman Islands. It’s a must-visit bookstore if you’re in the area, even if you just have time to visit the Books & Books location at the Miami International Airport before catching your flight to the Bahamas (which is only 55 miles to the southeast of Miami).
While there, pick up some reading material for relaxing on the beach.
However, the most popular location is in Coral Gable, which is located across the street from where the first-ever Books & Books was located. It’s in a beautiful old building, and this specific store also holds dozens of author events per month. Additionally, several of the locations have a cafe (including the Coral Gables one), so you can enjoy a cup of coffee or a sandwich with a good book.
Faulkner House Books
For lovers of William Faulkner and Southern literature, you can’t miss Faulkner House Books in New Orleans, Louisiana. This store is located in one of Faulkner’s old apartments in the heart of the French Quarter. It specializes in literary fiction with a focus on Southern literature and authors, first editions and rare editions. It’s often cited as one of the most charming bookstores in the United States.
Need some more bookstores to check out while in the area? Within a several-block radius, there’s also Dauphine Street Books, Arcadian Books & Prints, Librairie Book Shop, Crescent City Books and Beckham’s BookShop. So it’s pretty safe to say that the French Quarter is the place to be for book lovers.
Owned by novelist Ann Patchett, this bookstore opened in Nashville, Tennessee, in 2011. Parnassus Books mostly specializes in fiction, nonfiction and children’s books, but they also have a wide selection dedicated to local authors and interests. They hold hundreds of author events each year for adults, children and teens. Additionally, you can get Ann Patchett to sign one of her novels. Want to continue the Parnassus fun after you leave? They have an online magazine and two monthly subscription services: the First Editions Club (for adults) and ParnassusNext (for young adults).
Blue Bicycle Books
Located in Charleston, South Carolina, Blue Bicycle Books carries a wide variety of local, new, used and rare books (like signed first editions). They host hundreds of author events per year and have the space to fit more than 150 guests. This shop has hosted some big authors over the years, like Neil Gaiman and David Sedaris, so it’s worth your time to take a look at their events listing before stopping by. They also host Charleston’s Young Adult Book Festival (YALLFest) every year and a kids’ creative writing camp called Write of Summer.
Photo credits, from top: Chop Suey by Russ Walker from Flickr Creative Commons; Books & Books Key West from booksandbooks.com; Faulkner House by Brenda Bethman from Flickr Creative Commons; Parnassus from www.parnassusbooks.net; and Blue Bicycle by HSP Media LLC.