As a child, what I wanted most in the whole world was to be trapped overnight in a Barnes and Noble without anyone noticing. Even now, I still feel a deep surge of both panic and longing when a cashier makes the 15-minute closing announcement over the intercom. However, now my list of bookstores to stay the night in has gotten infinitely longer… which maybe, possibly makes my chances stronger? Probably not. But in honor of National Book Lovers Day, here are a few well-stocked poetry paradises I could linger in forever.
The Raven Book Store (Lawrence, KS)
The Raven boasts a large poetry section, including both the latest releases and titles from impressive local poets like Jen Harris, Charlotte Seley, and Hadara Bar-Nadav. It’s so beloved that the iconic book-loving site Lit Hub published an interview with the owner. The store’s Twitter account also posted a fiery and informative defense of independent bookstores’ continued relevance, which was retweeted more than 20 thousand times and made national news. With this much passion powering the staff—along with a bonus selection of word-related games and two adorable “store cats” (no, the felines are not for sale)—The Raven is a must-visit.
Subterranean Books (St. Louis, MO)
Located in the bustling Delmar Loop, Subterranean Books instantly commands attention with swoon-worthy window displays. The poetry selection nestled on the top floor is plentiful, as well as located right next to the perfect Instagram backdrop: a bright wall featuring the motto “EAT SLEEP READ.” The store strives to make reading more communal and hosts three book clubs a month (including one of my favorites, Well-Read Black Girl). They also open their doors to a wide array of poetry readings.
Magers & Quinn Booksellers (Minneapolis, MN)
Magers & Quinn regularly makes lists of the top independent bookstores in America, and truly stands out as a homey, new-and-used book utopia. Its poetry selection spans more than five rows of a floor-to-ceiling shelf, making it more immersive than many other stores (because, hello, poetry is much more than just a nice addition to fiction). Staff recommendations peek out to provide a helpful, personalized touch.
Berl’s Brooklyn Poetry Shop (Brooklyn, NY)
Berl’s has cultivated a long-standing reputation as New York City’s sole poetry-only bookshop, with a particular dedication to chapbooks and indie presses. Fans appreciate the family-owned storefront, which describes its hours as “2pm-ish to late,” for its individuality. Berl’s hosts readings several times a week, often from new and emerging voices, as well as workshops led by established poets.
Grolier Poetry Book Shop (Cambridge, MA)
The Grolier is the longest-running bookshop to be devoted exclusively to poetry. With this storied history comes a sense of investment and responsibility, and the Grolier seeks to grow modern poetry’s shifting audience. The store has become a gathering place for poetry festivities, readings, and signings, including an annual festival that has taken place for 90 years.
So, what’s next on your literary road trip bucket list?