As a former High School English teacher and current bibliophile, lover of exploring new cities and raising 3 growing readers (my 11-year old is finally devouring Harry Potter this summer), I love discovering new (& old) bookstores. I feel great pride in supporting independent shops and feel intense nostalgia walking through the aisles and brushing my fingers across new and familiar titles, discovering unique collections created by unique book sellers and introducing my kids to a magical children’s section.
Today, I’m sharing five beloved and enchanting bookstores in the south that me and my family adore. And please read until the end to comment on your favorite bookstore around the world for a chance to win a fun travel-friendly book bundle from my own collection.
Parnassus, Books , Nashville, TN
Started by bestselling author Ann Patchett and her co-owner Karen Hayes, Parnassus opened in 2011 after Nashville’s only Independent Bookstore at the time closed its doors. After opening, Parnassus quickly became one of my favorite places to spend hours and hours in the city. They have a sweet children’s section, they are committed to spotlighting local authors among their extensive collection, adorable shop dogs wander the aisles – this place is a Nashville haven. They recently expanded the shop and added a book mobile that shows up at farmer’s markets and school events around town. They also have an awesome first edition’s club which I’ve gifted my mom – and you can participate in from anywhere. Parnassus is such a special place here in my hometown of Music City.
Malaprop’s Bookstore, Asheville, NC
Asheville is one of my favorite cities in the world to visit and Malaprop’s Bookstore may have something to do with this. Owner and founder Emoke B’Racz writes, “I wanted Malaprop’s to be a place where poetry matters, where women’s words are as important as men’s, where one is surprised by excellence, where good writing has a home, where I could nurture my addiction to literature, and play, enjoy, and entertain people drawn to quality books.” I usually spend hours in this shop – some favorite sections include the banned book section and “Blind date with a bookseller” wherein the books are wrapped in brown paper with the book themes written on the cover so that you are surprised with your purchase! I love a good surprise!
Union Ave. Books, Knoxville, TN
Located in the heart of downtown Knoxville – a couple blocks from Market Square – Union Ave Books offers a wide selection of fiction, non-fiction, young adult and children’s books. The store owners aim to please, going so far as to order books you might want that are not available in-store. The store also hosts a variety of local and nationally known authors for readings and book signings. They also have a small & sweet children’s section that my kids flock to every time we visit.
Maple Street Books, New Orleans, LA
As I was writing this post, I sadly learned that Maple Street Books is closing its doors at the end of the month – after 53 years in business. I’m still including this New Orleans gem just in case you happen to find yourself in The Big Easy in the next couple weeks – in the meantime, I will research another Southern Bookshop to visit and replace Maple Street Books (impossible, I know) for this list.
Square Books, Oxford, MS
Square Books is a charming bookshop located in the historic town square in Oxford Mississippi, home of William Faulkner and the University of Mississippi. I adore perusing the books in this two-story shop –covered with autographed author photos and books, of course. Upstairs is a coffee bar and also a section devoted entirely to native son, William Faulkner. Also, not far from Square Books is Off Square Books, which specializes in used books, remainders, and rare books and serves as the venue for store events and the Thacker Mountain Radio program; and, a block away, Square Books, Jr., their children’s bookstore. Needless to say, these three shops provide hours and hours of book-loving research.
Giveaway: In honor of my love of all things books AND all things travel, I’m giving away four travel books. Do Big Small Things by Bruce Poon Tip, At Home in The World Travel Journal by Tsh Oxenreider, Give Your Child The World by Jamie C. Martin and a felt Travel Busy Book – perfect for your toddler travel adventures in cars, trains or planes! To win these four books, please comment on this post by midnight Thursday, July 20 with your favorite bookstore anywhere around the world!
Good luck & happy reading adventures!