Today’s treat is a list of the best independent and charming bookstores to visit in the South.
A trip to an independent bookstore can be a great way to get to know a new town quickly, and each of these shops are a representation of the communities they are based in, whether it’s owned and operated by a longtime local, houses resident cats, or neighbors a cozy coffee shop.
Avid Bookshop, founded by UGA graduate Janet Geddis, is located in the walkable Five Points district next to locally-owned Condor Chocolates and across the street from Jittery Joe’s, “Athens’ favorite cup of Joe” offering locally-roasted brew. With a charming and homey aesthetic, Avid has become a staple within the community over the years, regularly hosting book signings and readings, plus many author/illustrator events for younger readers throughout the year.
Goldberry Books located in Historic Downtown Concord sells new and used books, greeting cards and specialty gifts in a welcoming atmosphere. Grab a book, stop in neighboring coffee shop Press and Porter for a latte, and take a stroll of the quaint Main Street lined with various specialty shops and a curated art gallery inside the Historic Cabarrus County Courthouse.
Sylva’s Main Street in the Western North Carolina Mountains is home to landmark bookstore, City Lights Bookstore, which is lorded over by a pair of resident cats and specializes in rarities and out-of-print texts. An adjacent café named after it, City Lights Café, is a go-to spot for both visitors and locals for delicious coffee and locally sourced food.
Located in the birthplace of the civil rights movement and specifically on the “most historical short street in America,” Dexter Avenue, 1977 Books continues to carry the torch of social and racial equality that was lit by local leaders like Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr. years before opening its doors in 2019. Independently owned, 1977 Books operates on a volunteer employment structure, reinforcing its concept of being “for the people, by the people.” Its quaint and cozy physical aesthetic also functions as a multipurpose space open to the public to use for hosted events such as book club meetings, poetry workshops and any other gatherings that support their mission of fostering healing and community.
Pass Christian Books/Cat Island Coffeehouse, Pass Christian, Mississippi
Co-located with Cat Island Coffeehouse, this two-story building and deck overlooking the Gulf of Mexico is an inviting and stimulating spot to browse books, relax, converse, and meet friends. The second floor is known as The Mississippi Loft for its focus on Mississippi authors and subjects. Pass Christian Books has organized and hosted over one hundred and fifty author and book events, and they continue to do so either independently or in conjunction with other organizations.
The Bookstore in the Window, Laurel, Mississippi
An indie bookseller in Laurel MS, The Bookstore in the Window focuses on new and used books, gifts, a unique atmosphere, and lots of Southern hospitality. It offers a two-for-one trade in on books so traders can swap and old book for a new read in a fun way.
Square Books, Oxford, Mississippi
Square Books is made up of three separate buildings 100 feet apart from each other on the historic town square of Oxford, Mississippi. The first two-story building holds the main store, Square Books, featuring a café and balcony. A few doors down in the second building is Off Square Books which houses the lifestyle section, and in the third building is Square Books Jr., which houses the children’s section and the newest edition to the Square Books family, Rare Square Books.
Turnrow Book Co., Greenwood, Mississippi
Founded in 2006, Turnrow is the Mississippi Delta’s charming headquarters for book signings, live music, art exhibitions and more. The small and dedicated staff curates a rotating inventory of hand-selected reads, so there’s always something new to discover. Plus, the bookstore shares space with the Turnrow Café, which is a local favorite for coffee, lunch and craft brews.
Lemuria Book Store, Jackson, Mississippi
With floor-to-ceiling shelves full of books, including several first editions a dedicated children’s section, Lemuria has something for everyone. Guests are encouraged to grab a coffee from Broadstreet Bakery and bring it to the store to pair alongside their newest book.