Amazing Bookstores in the West

Via readers give praise to their favorite well-read shops.

man reading a book in a bookstore aisle, image

You can spend happy hours at your local bookstore, reading, perusing, and shopping.

IF YOU'RE GOING...

Take advantage of the area’s local amenities and services:

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ANNIE BLOOM'S BOOKS Portland
"In an era when big-box bookstores reign, Annie Bloom's has managed to keep its charm and personal service," writes Barbara Stanbro of Hillsboro, Ore. "Customers remain loyal for good reasons: an excellent selection, sensible signage, and helpful advice from the staff." www.annieblooms.com.

CARPE DIEM FINE BOOKS Monterey, Calif.
"The entire shop, in an old building close to the Robert Louis Stevenson house, is a bibliophile's delight," writes Nathalie Gross of Menlo Park, Calif. "Well-preserved rare books are surrounded by paintings of the early West and photographs of Monterey." www.carpediemfinebooks.com.

DARK CARNIVAL Berkeley, Calif.
"In an ever-expanding world of chain stores and online sellers, this place is a wonderful anachronism," writes Douglas Hirschman of Oakland. "It specializes in sci-fi, mystery, and fantasy, with a second-to-none selection of new, used, and out-of-print works." www.darkcarnival.com.

FRIENDS OF THE STOCKTON LIBRARY BOOK STORE Stockton, Calif.
"A fantastic bookstore, with constantly rotating stock," says Stephen Adams of Boise, Idaho. "I've walked in with a 20-dollar bill and walked out with 20 pounds of books. It also has an astounding collection of sheet music, some of it out of print for a hundred years." www.stockton.lib.ca.us/frndbkst.htm.

GALLERY BOOKSHOP AND BOOKWINKLE'S CHILDREN'S BOOKS Mendocino, Calif.
"A true gem nestled among the trinket shops," says Cathy Ellis of Ukiah, Calif. "You can find everything from Dr. Seuss to books on volcanic plants. And teachers get a discount." www.gallerybooks.com.

GARDEN BOOKSTORE San Francisco
"Just inside the botanical garden in Golden Gate Park sits this tiny trove of inspiration for lovers of the natural world," says Mary McDonnell of San Francisco. "There are references for botanists and gardeners, field guides, and children's books tucked in a corner. If you're a lover of books and plants, it's a candy store." www.sfbotanicalgarden.org.

GRASS ROOTS BOOKS AND MUSIC Corvallis, Ore.
"A book lover's bookstore," writes Carol Brown of Corvallis. "There's a wide range of literature for the entire family, and the knowledgeable staff has a passion for service. With a cozy loft and a remarkable collection of Celtic CDs." www.grassrootsbookstore.com.

ICONOCLAST BOOKS Ketchum, Idaho
"New and used books may be shelfmates in this 1800s stone building on Main Street," writes Judy Ware of Boise, Idaho. "Photos of early Ketchum and colorful paintings brighten the brick walls. When I shop for a new mystery, I find myself tempted by other titles recommended by the passionate staff. Author readings are intimate and interactive." www.iconoclastbooks.com.

KEPLER'S BOOKS AND MAGAZINES Menlo Park, Calif.
"Not just a place to buy books," says Carol Gilbert of Palo Alto, "Kepler's is a reader's haven, an outstanding community resource, with noted-author readings and book signings, workshops for writers, and age-appropriate book clubs." www.keplers.com.

MARK TWAIN BOOKSTORE Virginia City, Nev.
"Mark Twain may have defined a literary classic as ‘a book which people praise and don't read,' " writes Cynthia Kennedy of Virginia City, "but this shop holds thousands of books people do read. A creaking boardwalk leads to this mother lode of Nevada history, including photos and arti-facts left from when the shop was the Mark Twain Museum of Memories." www.marktwainbooks.com.

NO DEARTH OF BOOKS Gig Harbor, Wash.
"It's a small store, with books stacked to the ceiling," says Gordon Graham of Woods Cross, Utah. "They're all used, but in good condition, and most sell for half the original price. The owner knows exactly what he has and can find anything by subject, title, or author in those wonderful stacks." (253) 853-3355. http://nodearthofbooks.lbu.com/index.html.

PAULINA SPRINGS BOOK COMPANY Sisters, Ore.
"The coffee is on here," writes Lee Miller of Terrebonne, Ore. "Alongside the best sellers are lots of books on fishing, birding, hiking, boating, and biking, most geared to the surrounding area. And I'm always finding something of interest in the great children's section." (541) 549-0866.

POWELL'S BOOKS Portland
"Perhaps the most amazing bookstore of all," writes Leanne Shimada of Portland. "Powell's pioneered the idea of placing new and used books together on the same shelf. It's so huge, you need a map just to find the store's many departments." www.powellsbooks.com.

WESTERN EDGE BOOKS, ARTWORK, AND MUSIC Medora, N.D.
"Old-time cowboy music lured us in," writes Laurie Vigyikan of Cora, Wyo., "but once inside we were charmed by the creaky floors, the voluminous display of Western books, and the entire section devoted to local authors, poets, musicians, and artists." (701) 623-4345.

Photography by Melissa Barnes

This article was first published in November 2007. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.

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