As writers and die-hard readers, for team R Colucci, independent bookstores are our mecca, and places we love to support. Whether they’ve helped us discover a new favorite author or simply provided a quiet, cozy place to sit and read, these sacred spots hold a special place in our hearts.
That’s why campaigns like #BoxedOut from American Booksellers Association (ABA) are so important. They remind us that these vital elements of a vibrant community can’t survive without our support and need our help to thrive.
In service to that, our team has compiled a list of indie bookstores we love to visit and we hope you will check out should you ever find yourself nearby.
Add them all to your travel and shopping lists – we promise you won’t be disappointed!
Robin Colucci (CEO)
This was my go-to store when I lived in Colorado. I loved it because it was the first bookstore I ever went to that had comfortable chairs where you could sit and peruse the books as much as you wanted before buying them. It’s huge with a great selection and has a lot of charm. Plus, it’s now the largest Black-owned bookstore in the U.S.
This bookstore is near and dear to my heart. For the past 25 years, my family has made it a priority to stop during our annual family beach week. Now, it is my local indie bookstore, so I go there a couple of times a month! One of my favorite things about RJs is that they’ve had so many iconic authors do book signings there, and they always take a picture of the author and have them sign it, which they later frame and hang on the wall. The pictures line the entire store and it’s like walking through literary history. Also, they have a well-curated selection of books with reliable staff picks and a café with lots of yummy choices.
Otis Fuqua (Ghostwriter, Book Coach)
A little alcove on the first floor of an apartment building, complete with fairy lights and decorative postcards in the windows. They have a varied and interesting selection, a solid schedule of readings, and so far, they don’t mind my in-depth perusing (no one has scolded me that “it’s not a library”). It doesn’t hurt that it’s a block from a subway station either.
Emily Ballanca (Editorial Assistant)
My partner and I like to joke that this bookstore helped convince us to move to Baltimore. It’s a space that manages to effectively wear a number of hats: worker-owned cooperative, vegan cafe, community lecture space. I, in particular, really appreciate it as a queer space and how committed it is to stocking politically incisive books that speak to my Gender Studies heart.
When I worked in a neighborhood cafe, I would often find myself wandering in before my shift to putter around and pay my respects to all the books I haven’t purchased yet. I really love this store partially because of the open floor design with several tables that are stacked with new genre releases, and they never cease to fill me with excitement. I can also often find less mainstream queer and speculative fiction here which I love being able to buy in person.
Maya Hoffman (Book Coach)
I like BookWorks because it’s in a lovely location with a very cute exterior and interior. It feels like a cottage near the ocean. Plus, they have a cafe with really good coffee and a great variety of books.
Aubrey Polliard (Project Manager and Book Coach)
Ever since I was a child, The Bookies has been a place of surreal magic. With books piled high to the ceilings, it felt like a labyrinth of undiscovered worlds, just waiting for me. I still feel a flutter of excitement akin to a kid in a candy store on the rare occasions I get the chance to visit. For 50 years, this indie bookstore has inspired thousands of kids to love reading, myself included.
Nestled in Dupont Circle, this shop has been an institution for years, popular among locals and tourists alike. As you peruse the shelves you can hear the tinkling of drinks and plates from the café in the back (which turns into a bar for late-night readers). Better yet, they now offer 1-hour book delivery to residents of DC (though I wouldn’t pass up an opportunity to visit the delightful atmosphere)!
Dylan Hoffman (Ghostwriter and Book Coach)
Human Relations is crammed full of everything from cookbooks, to “smut,” to theory, to essays, and, of course, an overwhelming selection of fiction. It’s a great place to go for classics, both Anglophonic and translated, and they have a good selection of contemporary fiction and theory.
Molasses Books is a bookshop/cafe where you can sell your used books for a beer, and they have a somewhat more eclectic collection. I’ve found several titles there I couldn’t find other places, including the out-of-print “Sent for You Yesterday” by J. Edgar Wideman, and “No One Will See Me Cry” by the contemporary Mexican genius Cristina Rivera Garza.
The Bottom Line is this:
This week’s #BoxedOut campaign reminds us to support independent bookstores. Their quirky, unique atmospheres stimulate our senses and ignite our imaginations. They are the lifeblood of thriving communities. Buy local.