By Lauren Herber, Co-Editor
My love affair with literature started before I can even remember. I learned to read at a young age, but even before then I was obsessed with books and being read to. (My parents love telling the story of how I memorized the entire Green Eggs and Ham book when I was a toddler because I had begged my parents to read it to me so many times. The babysitter thought I was some sort of prodigy.) Throughout all the aches and pains of growing up, reading was my solace. When the weather was warm you could usually find me up at the top of our backyard tree, snuggled between two branches with a book. This passion followed me through my teenage years into college, where I studied literature. Even now, as busy as I am with valuing Ferrari’s IPO and studying the 4 Ps of marketing, I always make time to read. It’s the only thing keeping me sane. And like many other book lovers, there’s nothing I love more than adding to my collection (despite the fact that I’ve already got a mountain of unread books). You can sing the praises of electronic book devices until you’re blue in the face, but you’ll never find me reading from a kindle. I love the smell and feel of a book in my hands too much. Fortunately, there’s plenty of independent bookstores in Phoenix that satisfy my craving for books without (completely) ruining me financially. Here are 10 of the best that Phoenix has to offer.
This bookstore is my personal favorite in Phoenix. Every time I visit this shop, I end up spending at least an hour browsing all of the titles. It has by far one of the best collections of used books that I’ve ever personally come across. From contemporary hits (like Jonathan Tropper’s This Is Where I Leave You) to Pulitzer Prize winners (think The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt) to classics (Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five) to Spanish love poems (is there anyone more romantic than Pablo Neruda?), the Bookshop truly has it all. I can never leave without at least 3 more books to add to my collection. Book lovers, you don’t want to miss this cozy little shop featuring gently used books at great prices.
Collectors definitely won’t want to miss this gem. Book Gallery is an antique bookstore that specializes in rare books—think first editions and signed copies from your favorite classic authors like Hemingway and Dumas. Even if you don’t have the funds to purchase your own early copy of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, it’s still fun to peruse the unique wares (like a first copy of the Bible ever printed by a woman).
This is your one-stop shop for records, comic books, and more. Zia Records has a huge selection of books (especially science fiction) in addition to its vinyl, and a sizeable collection of graphic novels. Booking on a budget? They’ve got one-dollar baskets at the back of the store full of hidden treasures.
Located in the heart of downtown’s art scene in the Roosevelt Row District, Lawn Gnome is your go-to place to experience local art and culture. While this might not be the best place to go to broaden your collection of classics, it is place to go to find new, talented authors from the Phoenix area. What’s more, Lawn Gnome offers frequent exhibits and readings, so you can meet the author of your new favorite book.
Located in Scottsdale, Alcuin Books is another bookstore that offers a host of materials about Arizona history. History buffs won’t want to miss this spot, which features original copies of the Arizona Review and other rare historical texts. History lovers should also be sure to check out Guidon Books, which specializes in books about Western history and the Civil War. The store’s extensive American paraphernalia will make you feel like you’ve traveled back in time, and having the opportunity to explore Guidon Books’ rare and out-of-print collection is truly a unique and unforgettable experience.
Looking for low-priced used books that don’t look used? Changing Hands has all your literary needs covered. The selection is huge and the books are in great shape. Keep an eye out as well for their popular events—they’ve had professional wrestlers and even former presidents come to share advice. And after you’ve found the perfect book (or books, more likely), sit back and relax with a glass of wine or cup of coffee from the First Draft Book Bar, which is conveniently located right in the store.
Suspenseful thrillers (think anything by Gillian Flynn) have really been having a moment in pop culture right now, and the Poisoned Pen has everything you need to satisfy your craving for crime and pulp fiction. This is the perfect place to find your next can’t-put-it-down favorite. Added bonus: Gillian Flynn and other crime authors have visited this bookstore; you can see their signed photographs on the walls.
Bookmans has a great selection of many types of genres, but my personal favorite is the banned literature section. There’s something about reading a forbidden book that makes you appreciate literature in a whole new way. The career planning section is also worth a browse—I know all of us here at Thunderbird can find something useful there!
Dog-Eared Pages prides itself on having a wide selection of used, hard to find, rare, out of print, and independently published books. A big perk of Dog-Eared is their helpful staff. Is there a book that you’ve been looking for but just can’t find? Dog-Eared Pages will go above and beyond to help you find it.