I am a sucker for ‘listicles’ like this one of 44 ‘Great American Bookstores.’ Not in the least, because I do a fair amount of ‘bookstore tourism.’ Seeking out the best bookstores in any city I visit is always a priority.
I’ve visited nine from this list: #1, #3, #10, #14, #16, #19, #23, #24, and #33.
#1 is Prairie Lights in Iowa City, Iowa. I worked in Iowa in 2002 and as I was leaving the state, I stopped in Iowa City to visit this particular bookstore.
#3 is John K King Used and Rare Books. I visited that one recently when I fortuitously passed it by on my way from my sleazy motel to the location of a conference I was attending in downtown Detroit. Four stories of books in a former glove factory. Yup. Awesome.
#10 and #14 are Maple Street Books and Faulkner House Books, both in New Orleans. I stopped in on separate visits to New Orleans. Maple Street was just good luck that my friend and I were walking about and we saw it and I can never resist going into a bookstore. If I recall, Faulkner House Books was a little disappointing. Too many Anne Rice novels scattered about the place.
#16 I didn’t think much of at the time. Dog Eared Books is in San Francisco and I used to go there a bit for work and visit friends when I was LA. I was just wandering and came upon it.
#19 is my beloved Skylight Books, which must be the greatest bookstore in the country. Seriously.
#23, Symposium Books, I went to while I was in Rhode Island. It’s near the Rhode Island School of Design and has an amazing selection of books on art theory and crit.
#24 is DC’s own Politica & Prose. You and I already know how awesome that place is.
#33 is McNally Jackson in New York City, which I visited, but, honestly, I didn’t think much of at the time. It was a good bookstore, but it didn’t stick out in my mind.
I’m wondering how it is that I’ve never been to #28, Atomic Books in Baltimore. Sounds amazing!