62 of the World's Most Beautiful Libraries


For the last couple years, Jill Harness has been rounding up the world's most beautiful libraries by continent. Here they are all in one place, in no particular order.


Aside from being absolutely gorgeous, with two story dark wooden arches, this is also the largest library in all of Ireland. It serves as the country’s copyright library, where a copy of all new books and periodicals must be sent when they apply for copyright protection. The library is also home to the famous Book of Kells, an illuminated manuscript created by Celtic monks around the year 800.


This library, completed in 1906, is fascinating for its unique combination of architectural styles. The front exterior was designed in Tudor Revival and Modern Movement styles in order to allow it to harmonize with the next-door Abbey Gatehouse. It was built on a slope, and the front of the building is only three stories tall, but thanks to the two basement levels built into the hill, the back of the building has five stories. Inside, the design is mostly Classical, featuring ample arches, marble flooring and a stunning turquoise glass mosaic at the entrance hall.


The Codrington Library of Oxford University was completed in 1751 and has been used by scholars ever since. In the late 1990s, the building underwent a massive renovation in order to provide better protection for the books and to make the library more user friendly with better wiring and some new electronic work stations.


The National Library of France has expanded greatly since new buildings were added to house the collection in 1988. Even so, the old buildings on the Rue de Richelieu are still in use, and are utterly gorgeous as well. These buildings were completed in 1868, and by 1896 the library was the largest book repository in the world, although that record has since been taken from it.

5. The Library of El Escorial, Spain

This library is located in the Royal Seat of San Lorenzo de El Escorial, the historical residence of the king of Spain. Phillip II was responsible for adding the library and most of the books originally held within. The vaulted ceilings were painted with gorgeous frescoes, each representing one of the seven liberal arts: rhetoric, dialectic, music, grammar, arithmetic, geometry and astronomy. These days, the library is a World Heritage Site, and it holds more than 40,000 volumes.

6. Biblioteca Geral, University of Coimbra, Portugal

The General Library of the University of Coimbra consists of two buildings: the New Building built in 1962, and the Joanina Library built in 1725. The Joanina Library is adorned with Baroque décor and houses the library’s volumes that date from before 1800.


The library of the Dutch Parliament contains every record of parliamentary hearings and discussions. Because it was built before electric lighting made the storage of books a lot safer, the building was constructed with a massive leaded glass dome in the ceiling to allow in light and minimize the need for candles and gas lamps inside the library.


While modern architecture can often be fascinating, it rarely stands up to more classical designs in terms of beauty. The Delft University of Technology library is a rare exception. With a massive skylight in the ceiling that becomes a steel cone after escaping the confines of the library, and an eco-friendly grass-covered roof, the library is both stunning and totally modern.


This lovely library is not only the oldest in Switzerland, but one of the oldest and most important monastery libraries in the world, holding over 160,000 volumes many of which date back as far as the 8th century. The Rococo-styled library is often considered one of the most perfect libraries in the world and has earned the Abbey recognition as a World Heritage Site.


Built in 1776, the Admont Abbey Library is the largest monastery library in the world. The ceiling is adorned with frescoes depicting the stages of human knowledge up until the Divine Revelation. The entire design reflects the ideals and values of the Enlightenment.

11. Melk Monastery Library, Austria

The Baroque-styled abbey and the library within were completed in 1736 based on designs by Jakob Prandtauer. The library includes a world-famous collection of musical manuscripts and features stunning frescoes by artist Paul Troger.


Austria’s largest library is located in the Hofburg Palace in Vienna and houses over 7.4 million items in its collections. The library was completed in 1723 and features sculptures by Lorenzo Mattielli and Peter Strudel and frescoes by Daniel Gran.


This library, completed in 1744, was modeled in the Baroque style after the Austrian National Library, but it is by no means just a cheap imitation of the original, and it certainly stands on its own. Just outside the library there is an inscription reading “In quo omnes thesauri sapientiae et scientiae,” which translates to “In which are stored all treasures of knowledge and science.”


This impressive library collection contains over 200,000 volumes, including just about every important title printed in central Europe by the end of the 18th century. And as if the gorgeous décor and impressive book collection weren’t impressive enough on their own, the library also has a favorite feature of many geeks –- two secret passageways hidden by bookshelves and opened with fake books.


The series of buildings that make up this National Library owe their inception to an 11th century chapel dedicated to Saint Clement (hence the name). The National Library itself was founded in 1781, constructed in a Baroque style, and has served as a copyright library since 1782. The collection now includes historical examples of Czech literature, special materials relating to Tycho Brahe, and a unique collection of Mozart’s personal effects.


The Real Gabinete Português de Leitura in Rio de Janeiro holds more Portuguese works than anywhere else outside of Portugal, including a number of rare titles. Completed in 1887, the building's design is based on the Gothic-renaissance style that was popular at the time of the Portuguese colonization of Brazil. Inside the library are both a stunning chandelier and a gorgeous iron skylight that was the first of its kind in the country.


Another amazing library of Rio, the National Library of Brazil was constructed back in 1810 and has since become the largest library in Latin America and the 7th largest in the world. As a copyright library, publishers have been required to send over one copy of every title they've published since 1907, pushing the library’s collection to over 9 million items, including a number of rare books and an extensive collection of over 21,500 photos all dating from before 1890.

18. The National Library of Chile

Featuring a similar style to the National Library of Brazil, this beautiful building was designed in 1913 and completed in 1925 with a neoclassical design meant to commemorate the country’s centenary anniversary. Aside from housing the National Library, the building serves as headquarters to the country’s National Archives.


The library in Lima’s San Francisco Monastery is one of the oldest and most beautiful on the continent. The stunning convent was completed in 1672, with renovations and improvements continuing up until 1729. The 25,000 volumes contained therein are extremely rare, chronicling a massive variety of knowledge dating from the fifteenth through the eighteenth centuries.


If you think the architecture of this building looks familiar, that’s because it was a commonly used design for train stations around the early 1900s. As for why this library looks like a train station, well, that’s simple—it used to be one. In fact, it wasn’t converted into a library until 2009. In an effort to get more of the country’s citizens to read and to support the country’s artists and writers, the library features over 20,000 works, mostly written by or about native Peruvians.


The previous home to the National Library of Peru, the Public Library of Lima was completed in the 1940s with a small addition completed in 1974. It's been declared a historical monument by the country’s National Institute of Culture. The main gallery features marble floors and stairs, sculptures of the library’s founders, and gorgeous high ceilings.


With a massive upside-down arch above a glass window and concrete levels sandwiching a fragile-looking glass central story, the National Library of Costa Rica is quite striking. It still appears modern despite being over 40 years old. Unfortunately, the location has been subject to a number of earthquakes, leading to a number of closures over the years.


If you are a fan of modern architectural design, then you’ll really love what Colombia has created in the last decade or so. Famed architect Rogelio Salmona designed this library, completed in 2001. Featuring red brick walls, blue water pools and green lawns, this creative design looks like a maze of colors housing a labyrinth of books inside.


The Parque Biblioteca España stands out from its native Santo Domingo more than any other library on this list. That’s because the striking modernist design of its three boulder-like structures stands in stark contrast to the simple homes of the neighborhood around them. The architect designed the building, specifically its odd windows, as a way to help the impoverished community imagine bigger and better things, says architect Giancarlo Mazzanti. “We wanted to take people from this poor community into another place and change their reality.”


Designed like an upside-down pyramid, the EPM library, completed in 2005, may be a unique architectural feat, but its best-known feature remains the odd forest of white columns located just outside. Even so, the 107,000 square foot interior is quite beautiful, particularly the strikingly angled walls.


Perhaps the most famous of Colombia’s new libraries is the Villanueva Public Library, which was constructed using not only locally sourced materials, but also by the people of the village. Stones were gathered from nearby rivers and sustainable wood from nearby forests, and local people were trained to help construct the building. The design, created by four nearby college students, focuses on natural ventilation and plenty of shade to keep the interior nice and cool. All of these cost-cutting measures went a long way in helping a truly impoverished area secure a much-needed library.

27. Central Library of Vancouver, Canada

Many modern building designs are based on historical icons, but few of these designs focus on the ruins rather than the original. The Central Library of Vancouver is an exception. Based on the Roman Coliseum, this massive building takes up one full city block and features not only a library with 1.3 million reference materials, but also retail shops, restaurants, a parking structure, office buildings and a rooftop garden.


The Library of Parliament was once part of the city’s original Parliamentary headquarters constructed in 1876. The building had been under construction for ten years before it was revealed that the builders didn’t know how to create a domed roof as seen in the plans. To get around this issue, the Tomas Fairbairn Engineering Company of England was commissioned to create a pre-fabricated dome. As a result, the building had the distinction of being the first building in North America to have a wrought iron roof. The unique Gothic building is so iconic that today it is even featured on the Canadian ten-dollar bill.


The Library of Congress, a personal favorite, is the largest library in the entire world as ranked by both shelf space and number of books. Among its several buildings, the oldest is the Thomas Jefferson Building, which just might be the most beautiful structure in the library system. Completed in 1897, the library's neoclassical style features some of the most intricate interiors of any building in the U.S., including murals and sculptures from a variety of classically-trained American artists. Interestingly, the building’s exterior was even more lavish than it is now, as it was originally gilded, but this was criticized as it was believed to draw attention away from the Capitol Building. These days, the roof consists merely of copper that has aged to a sea green shade.


You might recognize this National Historical Landmark, better known simply as the “New York Public Library,” by the two stone lions guarding the building (known as either Lord Astor and Lady Lenox or Patience and Fortitude). Inside, the wooden shelves, frescoed ceilings and grand chandeliers give the entire building an old-world feel. Completed in 1911, the library featured more than 75 miles of shelves when it was first opened. The collection still managed to grow too large for its home by 1970, so the library was expanded by adding an underground area that extends under nearby Bryant Park.


This massive Gothic structure consists of three wings and a central tower, and now houses around a million books, 7500 periodicals, and a massive microfilm and microfiche collection. While the main tower is quite striking, the most famous part of the library is the enormous stained glass window in the West Wing showing Elena Cornaro Piscopia, the first woman to earn a doctorate in Europe, receiving her degree from the University of Padua.


Priceline.com founder Jay Walker's gorgeous wooden library, filled with an array of historical and pop culture artifacts, has been labeled by Wired as "the most amazing library in the world.” As if the gorgeous etched glass, labyrinthine design and multiple stories of book shelves weren’t impressive enough, the collection of rarities stored in the library is completely mesmerizing. Between books bound in rubies, a Sputnik, a chandelier from Die Another Day, and a list of plague mortalities from 1665, visitors to the private library might just have a hard time leaving.


This is one of my favorite modern library designs as it takes new construction techniques and applies them to neoclassical building styles. The result is a vintage look with a modern twist. The red brick base perfectly balances the glass rooftop adorned with seven massive aluminum adornments. Best of all, the designers took their inspiration from other famous Chicago buildings, ensuring the whole structure fits in perfectly with its surroundings.


From the outside, this windowless monstrosity really isn’t much to look at, but the interior of this Yale library is quite impressive and undeniably unique with its beautiful marble walls. The library is now the largest building in the world designed exclusively for the protection of rare books and manuscripts. And it has quite the collection to protect, as the building is home to one of 48 known copies of the Gutenberg Bible, ancient papyri, rare maps, medieval manuscripts, early American newspapers and more.


Nicknamed the “megalibrary” by the Mexican press, this giant library takes up a whopping 409,000 square feet, making it large enough to dwarf the painted gray whale skeleton displayed inside the main hallway. Outside of the library is an impressive botanical garden that protects the building from the loud city streets, providing a moat for this castle of knowledge. Inside, over 500,000 books are displayed on glass shelves hanging from the five stories of the building. The end result is as striking as it is stunning.


Established in 1646, this Puebla library was the first public library in Mexico; some even argue that it was the first library in the Americas. It is now listed in UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register and its 41,000 books and manuscripts include an array of rare and antique titles.


Philanthropist Dr. A.J. Armstrong wanted to create the “most beautiful building in Texas,” and the end result was this 3-story, Italian Renaissance-styled masterpiece adorned with 62 stained glass windows, massive marble columns and intricate ceiling designs. Armstrong justified the expense by pointing out that the “compelling beauty” of the building might be able to inspire someone enough that "if we by that means give the world another Dante, another Shakespeare, another Browning, we shall count the cost a bargain."


Constructed in 1906, this amazing New York landmark was originally built as the personal library and museum space for financier Pierpont Morgan’s impressive collection of rare books, manuscripts, drawings, artifacts and prints. After Pierpont’s death, his grandson, J.P. Morgan, Jr., opened the library to the public in 1924.


Talk about old school: The Boston Public library, established in 1848, was the first municipal library in all of the U.S. Its first location was a small Massachusetts schoolhouse, but it had to expand almost immediately. In 1895, the current building, called a “palace for the people” by architect Charles Follen McKim, was completed in Copley Square. In 1972, the building was expanded, and it now contains over 8.9 million books, a number of rare manuscripts, maps, musical scores, and prints. It even has first edition folios from Shakespeare and original music scores by Mozart.


The first Carnegie library in the U.S., this library was designed in an eclectic medieval style by William Halsey Wood and opened in Pennsylvania in 1889. Only five years later, it received a Romanesque-styled addition, doubling the size of the building. At the time, it featured a variety of entertainment options, including billiards tables on the first floor, a music hall, a gymnasium, and a swimming pool. Additionally, it held a bathhouse in the basement so mill workers could take a shower before accessing the facilities. These days, the bathhouse is a pottery studio, but the tiled floors and walls remain.


This Indiana library manages to balance old and new influences in a refreshingly unique manner. The original building, completed in 1917, is located in the front of the complex, while a massive, modernized addition from 2007 sits in the background. The first building was designed in the Greek Doric style and is often called one of the most outstanding architectural libraries in the U.S. The addition is just about as modern as can be, with glass and wood paneling throughout the building, and the 6-story, 293,000 square foot tower provides even more space for books and reading rooms.


Like the Indianapolis Public Library, the Central Library of Los Angeles features a striking balance between old and new architecture. The original library building was completed in 1926 and featured influences from ancient Egyptian and Mediterranean Revival architecture, including pyramids and mosaics. A 1993 renovation added a new wing with Modernist and Beaux-Arts influences, including an eight story atrium and more storage space for the museum’s ever-growing collection. These days, the library is the third largest public library in the U.S. and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.


Hearst Castle is one of the most famous buildings in California, but most tour groups miss the opportunity to explore the second story of the building, which includes a massive guest library and a cozier gothic library and study. This room also played a vital role in Hearst’s life, as the mogul preferred to use this room as his executive board room, doing business here whenever possible, .

44. Skywalker Ranch Library, USA

If you ever happen to get access to California's Skywalker Ranch, make sure you get a chance to look at the library, which is crowned with a 40-foot stained glass dome that allows employees and guests of Lucas Studios to enjoy their reading in natural light.


This Collegiate Gothic building was completed in 1923 and among its many impressive details are 18 terra-cotta figures set atop the buttresses featuring academic heroes such as Louis Pasteur, Dante, Shakespeare, Plato, Benjamin Franklin, Sir Isaac Newton, Leonardo da Vinci, Galileo, Gutenberg, Beethoven, Darwin, and more. Inside, a series of shields depict the coats of arms from many top universities around the world, including Yale, Oxford, Stanford and Uppsala. While the library is home to many rare volumes, the most famous item in its collection is one of the world’s largest, a photo book of Bhutan by Michael Hawley. Library staff turn the pages about once a month so interested viewers can slowly enjoy the entire work from front to back—assuming they visit regularly.


In 1888, most architects were focused on Romanesque styles built with marble and granite. But this library’s architect, Frank Furness, wanted the building to reflect the architectural style of Philadelphia’s many red brick factories. Throughout the following years it received a number of additions and alterations and finally, in 1962, most of the school’s collection was moved to a new location and the former main building became the home to the fine arts library.


Completed in 1870, the David Sassoon Library is one of only 145 monuments protected by India’s government, and the oldest library in Mumbai. One of its most famous features is the beautiful garden in the back—a rare sight in the commercial area in which it is located.The library and reading room were originally intended to be an entire institute dedicated to mechanics, science and technology, but funding ran short. The Sassoon Mechanic’s Institute was renamed the David Sassoon Library and Reading Room after its primary donor.


The Raza Library in Rampur was completed in 1904, and was once part of a palace. While many of the royal family’s other properties have been left to crumble, the library is still protected by the Indian government—another one of the country’s few protected monuments. The royal family started gathering works for the library way back in 1774. Included in their collection are 17,000 rare manuscripts, 205 hand-written palm leaves and 5000 miniature paintings.


If you’re looking for info on China’s ancient history, the National Library of China’s old buildings might be a good place to start. They serve as the home to a vast array of historical and ancient books and manuscripts—even inscribed tortoise shells. And though the buildings themselves are designed in a traditional Chinese style, they were only completed in 1987.


If you're looking for real traditional Chinese architecture, you’ll need to leave Beijing and head over to Ningbo City—home to the oldest private library in Asia. Built in 1560 by a retired imperial minister, Tianyi Pavilion Library is the third oldest private library in the world. As you might expect, the collection is rather impressive: 300,000 ancient books, including a number of woodcut and handwritten titles.


Completed in 1984, the National Library of Bhutan is also technically a Buddhist temple, and the structure is intended to integrate the three aspects of Buddha and his teachings: the physical represented by statues and paintings, the speech represented by books and printing blocks, and the heart represented by the eight small bowls found on the shrine on the first floor. The library is home to about 6100 Tibetan and Bhutanese books, manuscripts and xylographs, and about 9000 printing boards and wood printing blocks. While the collection isn’t massive, it is one of the largest collections of Buddhist literature in the world.


The Study House was completed 1982 in honor of Kim Il-Sung’s 70th birthday and features an amazing 600 rooms with capacity for 30 million books. Of course, being housed in North Korea, foreign publications are only available with special permission, so it will probably be a while before all the shelves are full.


This Neo-Baroque design might not be something you’d immediately associate with Japan, but the 1904 Nakanoshima Library actually fits in quite well in Osaka, as the area has quite a few other stone-walled buildings with similar architecture. This building, complete with a copper roof dome (not visible in the exterior image above), is certainly one of the most stunning.


While this attractive building might not be the most beautiful one on this list, it is undeniably the most eco-friendly and the most modern. The slanted roof collects moisture from humidity and rain, and then recycles it for the restrooms and gardens. The Beitou Library has also been fitted with solar panels and deep-set and latticed windows to reduce energy use.


This library was first opened in 1856 with a collection of 3,800 books, and the famous domed reading room was opened in 1913. While the dome’s skylights were covered with copper sheets in 1959 due to water leakage, they have since been renovated, allowing beautiful natural light to once again fill the reading room. This library is not only massive – containing over 2 million books – it also has some fantastic rarities, including the diaries of the city’s founders, folios of Captain James Cook, and the armor of famed outlaw Ned Kelly.


The oldest library in all of Australia, the State Library started as the Australian Subscription Library in 1826, and the current building was built in 1845. The most famous, and most stunning, part of the library is the Mitchell Wing, which was completed in 1910. The wing was named for David Scott Mitchell who had a fantastic collection of older books, including original journals of James Cook. The library now houses over 5 million items, including 2 million books and 1.1 million photographs.


The State Library of South Australia is not as large as some of the other Australian State libraries, but it does have the distinction of having the largest collection dating from pre-European times in its South Australiana collection. This collection is mostly contained within the Mortlock Wing, the oldest and most gorgeous part of the library. Opened in 1884, the building originally held 23,000 books and employed three librarians. Since then, the collection has expanded so much that two massive buildings had to be added to the library, although the Mortlock Wing remains the most visually impressive.


The Parliament House was built in stages, starting in 1855, and the library was one of the first things completed after the Legislative Assembly and Council. While construction continued all the way through 1929, the building’s Roman Revival design is fluent and smooth, so the whole thing seems like one single entity rather than a series of extra wings tagged on throughout the years


In 1927, the last heir to a prominent philanthropic Australian family offered £20,000 to the University of Adelaide for a new library, on the condition that it be named after his father, Robert Barr Smith. The red brick library was completed in 1932, complete with two friezes commemorating the donations of the Barr Smiths. Since the collection expanded quite quickly, addition after addition had to be added. These days, the library holds over two million volumes and now spans over almost 21,000 square meters.


There are ten different libraries at the University of Otago, and when it comes to looks and impressive collections, the Central Library stands above the rest, with its gorgeous, modern architecture that lets in ample natural light and its Special Collection containing over 9000 books printed before 1801. The library offers over 2000 study spaces for students and over 500,000 books, periodicals and microfilms.


Lincoln University isn’t huge, nor is the George Forbes Memorial Library located at the heart of campus inside Ivey Hall, but what they lack in size they make up for in beauty. Ivey Hall was opened in 1880, and while the library was originally opened in the George Forbes Memorial Building in 1960, it was moved into Ivey Hall in 1988 after the building underwent a major refurbishment.


Lake Tuggeranong is a man-made body of water created by a dam in 1987. As a result, the suburban town built around the lake is equally new, but with the lovely scenery, it’s no wonder that the local architecture is a step above typical suburban towns. The Tuggeranong Town Center Library is no exception and is, in fact, one of the most picturesque buildings in town—particularly when viewed from the water where you can see its reflection. While it might not be particularly old or have an impressive collection of rare books, with a view like this, it certainly deserves its place on this list.

The Best Bookstores in All 50 States

Robert Kim, Getty Images
Robert Kim, Getty Images

From their resident cats to that old book smell, there's something about wandering up and down the aisles of a brick-and-mortar bookstore that online merchants could never replicate. In honor of Independent Bookstore Day (April 27, 2019), Mental Floss has picked the best bookshop in every state—plus a few others we loved, too.

  1. The Best Bookstore in Alabama: Alabama Booksmith // Homewood, Alabama

One of the Birmingham area's hidden gems, the Alabama Booksmith is a unique delight for book-lovers and collectors alike. Since a remodel in 2012, the shop has featured an inventory consisting exclusively of signed book copies. The store has another special touch, too: Every book is displayed face-out so that customers can more easily discern whether or not something is right for them.

Other Alabama Bookstores We Love: Reed Books (Birmingham), Page & Palette (Fairhope)

  1. The Best Bookstore in Alaska: Title Wave Books // Anchorage, Alaska

The cleverly named Title Wave Books is not only the largest bookstore in Alaska, but also one of the biggest used bookstores in the entire country. In addition to its massive catalog of over 500,000 books, the store houses many vinyl records, audiobooks, and DVDs. And if for some reason you aren't interested in checking out the books, the store also has a host of events including Scrabble and chess nights.

Other Alaska Bookstores We Love: The Writer's Block (Anchorage), The Homer Bookstore (Homer)

  1. The Best Bookstore in Arizona: Changing Hands Bookstore // Phoenix & Tempe, Arizona

An exterior view of the Changing Hands Bookstore
An exterior view of the Changing Hands Bookstore
Mike Moore/Getty Images for Corday Productions

With locations in both Phoenix and Tempe, Changing Hands Bookstore encompasses the best of Arizona literature. The Tempe location has been in business since 1974, and its success allowed them to open their second store in a repurposed restaurant in central Phoenix. The Phoenix location is home to the must-visit First Draft Book Bar—after all, how often you can be served booze at a bookstore?

Other Arizona Bookstores We Love: Antigone Books (Tucson)

  1. The Best Bookstore in Arkansas: Dickson St. Bookshop // Fayetteville, Arkansas

A community favorite located only a short distance away from the University of Arkansas campus, Dickson St. Bookshop features a plethora of literary classics and much more. With thousands of books onsite, it's frequently named not just one of the best bookstores in Arkansas, but also one of the best in the nation. Owners Donald Choffel and Charles O'Donnell have been in charge from the very beginning in 1978.

Other Arkansas Bookstores We Love: WordsWorth Books & Co (Little Rock), Nightbird Books (Fayetteville)

  1. The Best Bookstore in California: Green Apple Books // San Francisco, California

Competition for San Francisco's book lovers is fierce—the city is also home to famous independent bookstores like City Lights—but Green Apple Books remains a beloved local luminary. The store, which celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2017, has grown over the decades to occupy a two-story, sprawling space in the city's Richmond District. Filled with books both new and used, the store sells not just hardback literature, but e-books and audiobooks, magazines, LPs, and more. In 2014, it expanded its wares to a second location, Green Apple Books on the Park, located near Golden Gate Park. Online, it offers services like the Apple-a-Month Club, which sends subscribers a new fiction paperback each month, while its two stores host readings by local writers and literary legends alike. (It's also a popular haunt for literature-loving celebrities—it has previously been frequented by the likes of Robin Williams, Oliver Sacks, and more.)

Other California Bookstores We Love: City Lights Bookstore (San Francisco), The Last Bookstore (Los Angeles), Book Soup (Los Angeles), Time Tested Books (Sacramento), Chaucer's Bookstore (Santa Barbara)

  1. The Best Bookstore in Colorado: Tattered Cover // Denver, Colorado

Denver’s storied Tattered Cover has been around since 1971 and has been through numerous transformations: moving locations, opening satellites, adding cafes and, at one point, having a (since closed) restaurant and bar. Considered one of the most successful independent bookstores in the country, it now sells new and used books at four different outposts in Denver and Littleton, Colorado as well as operating several stores at the Denver International Airport. You can find international bestsellers alongside indie literature and a wide range of used volumes. It hosts writing workshops, book clubs, literary readings, film screenings, and storytime for kids, and in 2019, launched the one-day Colorado Book and Arts Festival.

Other Colorado Bookstores We Love: Book Cranny (Arvada), Boulder Bookstore (Boulder), Capitol Hill Books (Denver)

  1. The Best Bookstore in Connecticut: R.J. Julia Booksellers // Madison, Connecticut

An image of the store front of RJ Julia Booksellers.

R.J. Julia has been one of Connecticut's premier book destinations for decades, and for good reason. Named one of New England magazine’s "Best Bookstores to Spend the Day" in 2018, the Madison-based bookstore features a large selection of books and gifts, knowledgeable staff, and a great cafe. It's more than just a place to stop by and grab a new paperback, though. The store hosts more than 300 events every year, and owner Roxanne J. Coady is dedicated to finding every reader their perfect book. In 2009, she launched Just the Right Book, a personalized book-of-the-month subscription service, and recently expanded it to include a Just the Right Book podcast that features interviews between Coady and bestselling authors. If you can't stop by the store in person, we recommend using R.J. Julia's "What's Your Perfect Next Read" online quiz to find your new favorite book.

Other Connecticut Bookstores We Love: Hickory Stick Bookshop (Washington Depot), Byrd's Books (Bethel)

  1. The Best Bookstore in Delaware: Browseabout Books // Rehoboth Beach, Delaware

Founded in 1975, Browseabout Books in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware is a local legend—so much so that the company's 40th anniversary party was attended by Delaware's governor and multiple state senators. In 1992, Browseabout took over a former open-air mall that once housed seven stores and evolved to sell gifts, toys, and stationery alongside books and a coffee bar. Poets.org lists it as one of its favorite poetry-friendly bookstores, while writer Anna March extolled its virtues in the literary journal Tin House in 2013, calling it "a thing to behold—best sellers and beach books, yes, but also a strong kids section; travel books and literary fiction with an extensive back catalog; books by local authors; and a selection of essays, poetry, plays."

Other Delaware Bookstores We Love: Bethany Beach Books (Bethany Beach), Acorn Bookstore (Smyrna)

  1. The Best Bookstore in Florida: Books & Books at The Studios of Key West // Key West, Florida

There are several locations of Books & Books, which has stores around South Florida (and one in the Cayman Islands), but the Key West affiliate of the chain has a special place in book lovers' hearts for one reason: It's the only store that was founded by Judy Blume and her husband, George Cooper. Located in a former Masonic Temple that now serves as a nonprofit arts space, it's just what you would expect from a bookstore owned by a literary luminary. The store is designed with readers in mind, with reading lights and a curated selection of literary fiction, poetry, art books, magazines, and new bestsellers, plus an entire room devoted to professional-grade art supplies. Oh, and it's perhaps the only bookstore where you can get book recommendations straight from the mouth of Judy Blume.

Other Florida Bookstores We Love: Key West Island Books (Key West), Murder on the Beach Mystery Bookstore (Delray Beach)

  1. The Best Bookstore in Georgia: Charis Books // Atlanta, Georgia

Charis Books And More has been an Atlanta institution since 1974, making it the oldest independent feminist bookstore in the southern United States. Charis's inventory is stocked with books that fall into diverse categories, like LGBTQ fiction and non-fiction, food issues and body image, anti-ableism, race, and reproductive rights. As part of its mission to support local, independent authors, Charis encourages writers of all backgrounds to request to have their books sold in the store. The shop also hosts about 270 literary, social justice, and educational events a year.

Other Georgia Bookstores We Love: Book Nook (Decatur), Avid Bookshop (Athens), A Cappella Books (Atlanta)

  1. The Best Bookstore in Hawaii: Talk Story Bookstore // Hanapepe, Kauai

The exterior of Hawaii's Talk Story bookstore.
Paul Schultz, Flickr // CC By 2.0

The westernmost bookstore in the United States, Talk Story Bookstore has over 150,000 new, used, and out-of-print titles to choose from, whether it's mysteries or Hawaiiana. As the only bookstore on Kauai, it's a much-loved community resource, and patrons praise its friendly owners, Ed Justus and Cynthia Lynn, who have been in business since 2004. As you're browsing the books and records, keep an eye out for the store's cat/guardian angel, Celeste.

Other Hawaii Bookstores We Love: da Shop: books + curiosities (Honolulu), BookEnds (Kailua)

  1. The Best Bookstore in Idaho: Rediscovered Books // Boise, Idaho

Founded in 2006, Rediscovered Books is known as the go-to community bookstore for literature geeks. With more than 30 book clubs (including a Comic Book Book Club, a Macchiato and Murder one, and a noon-hour Lit for Lunch group) and a litany of special events ranging from author signings to their so-called "infamous" Book & Booze nights, there's sure to be a reading group to meet any adult special interest. And for the kids, there's a weekly Tasty Tales storytime with snacks from the local Guru Donuts.

Other Idaho Bookstores We Love: The Well-Read Moose (Coeur d'Alene), BookPeople of Moscow (Moscow)

  1. The Best Bookstore in Illinois: Anderson's Bookshop // Naperville, Illinois

A beloved part of the Naperville, Illinois, community since 1875, Anderson's Bookshop is still operated by fifth-generation descendants of the original founders. It's a hub for author events, book clubs, children's reading activities, and a huge selection of books. Catch the monthly staff picks of new and older titles offered at a 25 percent discount. Recent selection included Meghan Cox Gurdon's The Enchanted Hour: The Miraculous Power of Reading Aloud in the Age of Distraction and Brad Meltzer's The First Conspiracy: The Secret Plot to Kill George Washington.

Other Illinois Bookstores We Love: Bookman's Corner (Chicago), The Book Cellar (Chicago)

  1. The Best Bookstore in Indiana: Hyde Brothers // Ft. Wayne, Indiana

Hyde Brothers claims to be "Indiana's best-loved bookstore," and who are we to argue? This charming secondhand bookshop brims with titles jostling for space on floor-to-ceiling shelves. There are plenty of step stools and rolling ladders to help you find what you crave among the store's specialties—history, literature, nature, sports, horror, religion, and more. And while you're there, don't forget to pet Scout and Sherlock, the bookshop's two kitties.

Other Indiana Bookstores We Love: Indy Reads Books (Indianapolis), Main Street Books (Lafayette)

  1. The Best Bookstore in Iowa: The Haunted Bookshop // Iowa City, Iowa

Spoiler alert: This secondhand bookshop isn't actually haunted (it's named after the Christopher Morley novel of the same name). While that may be disappointing, this 41-year-old shop's inventory definitely isn't. Spread over 10 rooms in an 1847 mansion, the collection spans fiction, world cultures and history, art and writing, regional history, science and nature, and much more. The store's feline employees Nierme and Logan keep an eye on it all.

Other Iowa Bookstores We Love: Source Book Store (Davenport), Plot Twist Bookstore (Ankeny)

  1. The Best Bookstore in Kansas: Rainy Day Books // Kansas City, Kansas

The first stop for authors and their fans in Kansas City is usually Rainy Day Books. The shop was one of the first in the U.S. to focus on author events to create a community around books and reading, and today, it has one of the busiest schedules in the country. That's in addition to a selection of books featuring emerging writers as well as bestsellers. Recent staff picks included Therese Anne Fowler's A Well-Behaved Woman: A Novel of the Vanderbilts and Maxwell King's The Good Neighbor: The Life and Work of Fred Rogers.

Other Kansas Bookstores We Love: Watermark Books and Cafe (Wichita), The Raven Bookstore (Lawrence)

  1. The Best Bookstore in Kentucky: Joseph-Beth Booksellers // Lexington, Kentucky

One reviewer called Joseph-Beth Booksellers in Lexington the "world's largest small bookstore" and that's a pretty apt description for this literary treasure trove. CEO Adam Miller says the store carries "more titles than any of the national bookstore chains in the country." JB, as it's called locally, has six outlets in both Kentucky and Ohio, but the Lexington branch is perhaps the most beautiful one. Grab a book and a bite to eat from the store's Brontë Bistro, and enjoy the atmosphere as natural light filters into the building through a skylight in the high, vaulted ceiling.

Other Kentucky Bookstores We Love: Carmichael's Bookstore (Louisville), Roebling Point Books and Coffee (Covington)

  1. The Best Bookstore in Louisiana: Faulkner House Books // New Orleans, Louisiana

Faulkner House Books in New Orleans
Lisa Cericola, Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0

It's only fitting that As I Lay Dying author William Faulkner's former apartment in New Orleans was converted into a bookstore. Located on Pirate's Alley in the historic French Quarter, Faulkner House Books is just as charming as you'd expect. Naturally, you'll find a number of Faulkner titles on the store's wooden shelves, but the outlet also specializes in Modern First Editions, Southern Americana books, and the works of Tennessee Williams and Walker Percy.

Other Louisiana Bookstores We Love: Garden District Book Shop (New Orleans), Cottonwood Books (Baton Rouge), Bent Pages Bookstore (Houma)

  1. The Best Bookstore in Maine: Longfellow Books // Portland, Maine

Portland has been called the "hippest city" in Maine, so it's perhaps no surprise that the coastal town is home to roughly a half-dozen indie bookstores. If you only have time to visit one, though, make it Longfellow Books. Named after Portland native Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, the store hosts regular book launches, poetry readings, and book clubs (including one that focuses on international mystery books). Ideal for browsing, Longfellow hosts a variety of odd and unusual titles.

Other Maine Bookstores We Love: Owl & Turtle Bookshop Café (Camden), Annie's Book Stop (Wells), Gulf of Maine Books (Brunswick)

  1. The Best Bookstore in Maryland: Second Story Books // Rockville, Maryland

Second Story Books's cavernous warehouse in this Washington, D.C. suburb is crammed with used books, rare volumes, antiquarian collections, art and antiques, and much more, all arranged in delightfully specific categories (Byzantine studies or polar exploration, anyone?). Be ready to hunt for buried treasure at 50 percent off the cover price. There's another, smaller location in D.C.'s Dupont Circle neighborhood too.

Other Maryland Bookstores We Love: The Book Escape (Baltimore), Ukazoo Books (Towson), Normal's Books and Records (Baltimore)

  1. The Best Bookstore in Massachusetts: Trident Booksellers & Cafe // Boston, Massachusetts

With so many colleges in the state, it makes sense that Massachusetts also has an impressive array of bookstores to cater to all those students. Trident Booksellers & Cafe not only has great books, but something that's just as essential to college kids: A cafe that serves breakfast until midnight. After grabbing a meal or coffee, guests can browse the books and one of the most impressive magazine selections in the city.

Other Massachusetts Bookstores We Love: Raven Used Books (Cambridge), Titcomb's Bookshop (East Sandwich), Grolier Poetry Book Shop (Cambridge)

  1. The Best Bookstore in Michigan: John K. King Used and Rare Books // Detroit, Michigan

John K. King Used and Rare Books in Detroit, Michigan
Liza Lagman Sperl, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Book lovers could easily spend all day at John K. King Used and Rare Books in Detroit. The store houses more than a million books spread over four stories, with 25,000 volumes in the rare books room alone. Don't let the intimidating size stop you from popping in: Staff members hand out maps to guests as soon as they enter.

Other Michigan Bookstores We Love: Brilliant Books (Traverse City), Kazoo Books (Kalamazoo)

  1. The Best Bookstore in Minnesota: Wild Rumpus // Minneapolis, Minnesota

Wild Rumpus bookstore in Minneapolis
Kent Kanouse, Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0

Though the inventory here might be geared toward younger readers, it would be hard for any true book lover to pass up a visit to this charming shop that takes its name from Where the Wild Things Are. Opened in 1992, Wild Rumpus endeavors to be more than just a bookstore—it hopes to turn curious kids into lifelong readers. The store has teamed up with the Autism Society of Minnesota to host a biweekly story time for sensory-sensitive youngsters, which takes place before the store opens to the public. While the store itself is more laid-back than "wild," it is home to a menagerie of pets—including birds, a trio of rats named for A Wrinkle In Time characters, a mischievous ferret named Ferdinand, and a couple of chinchillas named Caldecott and Newbery. It's hardly surprising that the store was named Publishers Weekly's Bookstore of the Year in 2017 (or that it was the first children's store to ever achieve that honor).

Other Minnesota Bookstores We Love: Magers & Quinn Booksellers (Minneapolis), Sweet Reads (Austin)

  1. The Best Bookstore in Mississippi: Square Books // Oxford, Mississippi

"Three bookstores 100 feet apart" boasts Oxford's Square Books. All located at the historic town square, the main bookstore holds court in an older building with a block-long second-level balcony. They also have a separate children's bookstore and "Off Square Books," a full store for lifestyle books (cooking, travel, photography, etc.) and bargain buys. Along with the usual author events, Square hosts Thacker Mountain Radio, a live weekly show that features both literary and musical talent—it's no wonder Publishers Weekly named Square Books their Bookstore of the Year in 2013.

Other Mississippi Bookstores We Love: Lemuria Books (Jackson), Reed's Gum Tree Bookstore (Tupelo)

  1. The Best Bookstore in Missouri: Left Bank Books // St. Louis, Missouri

Left Bank Books in St. Louis, Missouri
Left Bank Books in St. Louis, Missouri
Paul Sableman, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Founded in 1969 by a group of Washington University grad students who wanted a central place with a wide variety of literature, St. Louis's Left Bank Books is now celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. Left Bank has grown into cultural institution—it's become a center for community outreach, it has a foundation for helping improve literacy in the St. Louis public schools, and it hosts multiple open book clubs each month, including a gay men's group, a lesbian group, a "read the resistance" night, and a book group dedicated to horror novels.

Other Missouri Bookstores We Love: Prospero's (Kansas City), Well Read Books (Fulton)

  1. The Best Bookstore in Montana: Country Bookshelf // Bozeman, Montana

Country Bookshelf, Bozeman
Country Bookshelf in Bozeman
Amy Guth, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Established way back in 1957, the Country Bookshelf has an old-timey feel and knowledgable staff that frequently earn it accolades. In addition to author events and a bookclub, the store partners with Bozeman schools and the Bozeman Public Library to help promote literacy with a program known as "One Book—One Bozeman."

Other Montana Bookstores We Love: Shakespeare & Co. (Missoula), Tumbleweed Bookstore and Cafe (Gardiner)

  1. The Best Bookstore in Nebraska: Indigo Bridge Books // Lincoln, Nebraska

Functioning as both a bookstore and a coffee shop, Indigo Bridge is a great hangout spot for any kind of reader. The store has a particularly strong connection to the local community, with some of its spaces designed by children. Furthermore, all of the coffee sales are donated back to the community.

Other Nebraska Bookstores We Love: The Sequel Bookshop (Kearney), A Novel Idea Bookstore (Lincoln)

  1. The Best Bookstore in Nevada: Sundance Books and Music // Reno, Nevada

Sundance Books and Music in Reno
Sundance Books and Music in Reno
Trevor Bexon, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Does anyone get a lot of reading done in the same state as Las Vegas? Apparently so: Sundance has been in business since 1985 and in its current location for the past eight years. Their selection is housed in a converted Victorian mansion that's become a monument to the written word. It's also minutes from the airport so you can pick up titles for your travels.

Other Nevada Bookstores We Love: Bauman Rare Books (Las Vegas), Copper Cat Books (Henderson)

  1. The Best Bookstore in New Hampshire: Gibson's Bookstore // Concord, New Hampshire

If you need a little more incentive to log off Amazon and go into a physical bookstore, Gibson’s in Concord makes a compelling case. In business since 1898, the store not only houses books and baristas but also acquired local toy store Imagination Village to incorporate educational toys and games.

Other New Hampshire Bookstores We Love: Book and Bar (Portsmouth), Escape Hatch Books (Jaffrey)

  1. The Best Bookstore in New Jersey: Montclair Book Center // Montclair, New Jersey

Fans have mused—semi-seriously—that being locked in the Montclair Book Center for the rest of your life wouldn't be so bad. The shop boasts over 10,000 square feet of shelves stocked to the brim with new and used titles.

Other New Jersey Bookstores We Love: Books and Greetings (Northvale), WORD (Jersey City)

  1. The Best Bookstore in New Mexico: Collected Works Bookstore and Coffeehouse // Santa Fe, New Mexico

Relax with a book and organic, locally roasted coffee indoors or on the patio at Collected Works in Santa Fe, which boasts over 30,000 titles and plenty of author readings. Fans of the bookshop point to its relaxed, inviting atmosphere and fresh desserts as reasons to linger.

Other New Mexico Bookstores We Love: Page 1 Books (Albuquerque), Bookworks (Albuquerque)

  1. The Best Bookstore in New York: The Strand Bookstore // New York, New York

The exterior of the Strand Bookstore
Eunice, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

The Strand's multi-story collection of books is so plentiful it bleeds out into the sidewalk. The store claims its bookshelves hold 18 miles' worth of new, used, and rare books.

Other New York Bookstores We Love: Housing Works Bookstore Cafe (New York City), Binnacle Books (Beacon), Dog Ears Bookstore (Buffalo)

  1. The Best Bookstore in North Carolina: Main Street Books // Davidson, North Carolina

There's stiff competition in North Carolina, but Main Street Books in Davidson is one of the finest literary establishments in the state. In business since 1987, the store was actually built out of an old general store, and offers a plethora of programs and activities for book lovers. As part of the bookstore's subscription program, "The Matchbox," customers can elect to receive a staff-approved book from the store's kids' books, first editions, or paperback titles each month.

Other North Carolina Bookstores We Love: Malaprop's Bookstore/Cafe (Asheville), City Lights Bookstore (Sylva)

  1. The Best Bookstore in North Dakota: Zandbroz Variety // Fargo, North Dakota

In May 1989, brothers Jeff and Greg Danz realized their longtime dream of opening the kind of store where they would want to shop, launching the first location of Zandbroz Variety in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. It became so popular that they decided to head north to open a second location in Fargo just a few years later. The Fargo store features a trippy mix of smart and quirky goodies, but books are undoubtedly the main event, with a special section dedicated to local authors and titles that explore the history of the area (which is just as interesting to visitors as it is longtime residents). But there’s also a full supply of greeting cards, toys, jewelry, housewares, and other trinkets. They also brew a mean cup of coffee, giving you one more excuse to never want to leave the store’s delightfully eclectic confines.

Other North Dakota Bookstores We Love: Main Street Books (Minot), Sweets N Stories (Oakes)

  1. The Best Bookstore in Ohio: Loganberry Books // Cleveland, Ohio

Loganberry Books—named after owner Harriet Logan—has been offering Clevelanders an alternative to big bookstore chains since 1994. Considering that Loganberry boasts over 100,000 new, used, and rare titles, the shop certainly gives mainstream outlets a run for their money. (Another perk is the store's resident cat, Otis.) Online, Loganberry Books also runs helpful service called "Stump the Bookseller," which lets customers describe books they can't quite recall the title of, in hopes that other bibliophiles will be able to fill in the gaps.

Other Ohio Bookstores We Love: The Ohio Book Store (Cincinnati), Ashland Books (Ashland), Gramercy Books (Bexley)

  1. The Best Bookstore in Oklahoma: GypsySnark Books // Stillwater, Oklahoma

This little used bookstore and bric-a-brac shop in Stillwater covers pretty much any genre you might want—get lost in the sci-fi and horror nook, or search through shelves on the presidents, gardening, or local history and authors. Its unusual name reveals its owner's varied interests: Founder Susan Thomas, a retired analyst with the U.S. Forest Service, spent years studying gypsy moths. She also has always loved the Lewis Carroll poem "The Hunting of the Snark." Combine the two, and you get GypsySnark.

Other Oklahoma Bookstores We Love: Full Circle Bookstore (Oklahoma City), Chapters (Miami)

  1. The Best Bookstore in Oregon: Bloomsbury Books // Ashland, Oregon

For nearly 40 years, Bloomsbury Books has worked to make the pleasure of reading as pure as possible. It's named for an early 20th century London literary society called the Bloomsbury Group—one in which Virginia Woolf was a central figure, just as she is at this Bloomsbury. Ask the staff for recommendation, then relax with your new tome in their cozy on-site coffeeshop.

Other Oregon Bookstores We Love: Powell's Books (Portland), Gold Beach Books (Gold Beach)

  1. The Best Bookstore in Pennsylvania: Farley's Bookshop // New Hope, Pennsylvania

Whether you know it or not, there’s one thing that can turn any bookshop from good to great: a resident cat. At Farley’s, that would be Butter—an adorably attentive feline who serves as both greeter, security, and insurance that you'll make a repeat visit. Located in bustling downtown New Hope, a picturesque enclave nestled on the Delaware River, Farley's has been in business since 1967. The shop has that lived-in feel that makes you kind of nostalgic for the time before Amazon existed, and its friendly staff is full of bibliophiles who seem magically able to figure out what it is you're looking for even if the only description you can utter is "a true crime book with a black cover by that guy." It's also worth noting that the store has a private parking lot, which is a rarity in the area and a godsend for shoppers who have a tendency to lose all track of time when surrounded by an impossibly well-curated collection of literature.

Other Pennsylvania Bookstores We Love: Head House Books (Philadelphia), The Old Library Bookshop (Bethlehem), Books Galore (Erie), City Books (Pittsburgh)

  1. The Best Bookstore in Rhode Island: Cellar Stories // Providence, Rhode Island

Cellar Stories prides itself on being "the largest used and rare bookstore in the smallest state in the U.S." The shop has graduated from the basement location that inspired its name to a Providence store big enough to house over 70,000 volumes. It's a great place to find books related to Rhode Island and New England history, as well as obscure science fiction novels, cookbooks, vintage paperbacks, and more.

Other Rhode Island Bookstores We Love: Barrington Books (Cranston), Spring Street Bookstore (Newport)

  1. The Best Bookstore in South Carolina: Blue Bicycle Books // Charleston, South Carolina

Don't let the small(ish) storefront fool you: Blue Bicycle Books on Charleston's Upper King Street, located just a few blocks from the College of Charleston, takes up a substantial amount of real estate: It goes back 172 feet. It has ample space for as many as 150 people to attend the more than 200 author events the store hosts each year. David Sedaris, R.L. Stine, Sue Monk Kidd, Bill Murray, and Neil Gaiman are just a few of the hundreds of authors who have stopped by since Blue Bicycle opened in 1995. The shop devotes a chunk of its shelf space to local Charleston authors as well as military history (The Citadel and Fort Sumter are just a stone's throw away, after all), but it doesn't shy away from bestsellers and other new titles. The shop also deals in rare signed first editions from the likes of Harper Lee and William Faulkner. In an effort to engage its community of young readers and writers, the store also hosts a summer writing camp for kids and the annual YALLFest, which attracts more than 12,000 YA fans (not to mention top authors in the genre) to the city each November.

Other South Carolina Bookstores We Love: M.Judson Booksellers (Greenville), Fiction Addiction (Greenville)

  1. The Best Bookstore in South Dakota: Mitzi's Books // Rapid City, South Dakota

For more than a decade, Mitzi's has been offering Rapid City's literati an amazingly well-curated selection of books in a comfy-cozy shop that kind of feels like an extension of your own living room. You'll get no dirty looks here if you decide to plop down in a chair and while away an afternoon reading one of the knowledgeable staff's latest book recommendations. In fact, hanging around is encouraged. Best of all, there's just as much variety in the well-stocked children's book section, making a visit to Mitzi's an easy all-ages affair.

Other South Dakota Bookstores We Love: The Book Zealot (Watertown), Prairie Pages Bookseller (Pierre)

  1. The Best Bookstore in Tennessee: Parnassus Books // Nashville, Tennessee

Parnassus Books ("An Independent Bookstore For Independent People") has become an oasis for Nashville book lovers. Indeed, it was designed that way: Bestselling author Ann Patchett and publishing veteran Karen Hayes opened Parnassus in 2011 at a moment when Nashville had zero other bookstores, drawing on Patchett's childhood love of smaller-scale, personable bookshops. "I wanted to re-create that kind of bookstore, one that valued books and readers above muffins and adorable plastic watering cans," she writes on the Parnassus website. Highlights include books by local authors, a standout biography section, a passionate staff, regular author events (including a Saturday story time), and a "Conscious Aging" book club.

Other Tennessee Bookstores We Love: Burke's Book Store (Memphis), Landmark Booksellers (Franklin), novel., (Memphis)

  1. The Best Bookstore in Texas: BookPeople // Austin, Texas

The city of Austin, Texas, has gone through rapid changes in the last 10 years. While restaurants have gotten more expensive and buildings have gotten taller, some staples of the city remain. The charm of "old" Austin can still be found at BookPeople, a local favorite since 1970. Every bookseller there is extremely well informed, they're never out of stock of the classics, and they are always promoting new, great literature. Some of the biggest authors in recent memory have made their way through for readings and events. It's been the best bookstore in Austin since they opened their doors, and it's always worth stopping by.

Other Texas Bookstores We Love: Interabang Books (Dallas), Burrowing Owl Books (Canyon), The Twig Bookshop (San Antonio)

  1. The Best Bookstore in Utah: The King's English // Salt Lake City, Utah

King's English bookstore in Salt Lake City, Utah
Christian Harrison, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

Ann Berman and Betsy Burton wanted a place to work on their novels when they opened King’s English in 1977. They ended up committing themselves fully to the business, and today, King's English is one of the most beloved bookshops in Utah. Though it has attracted some famous fans, like author James Patterson (who gave the store a grant to build its children's section), it's still a community business where employees remember your name and your reading preferences.

Other Utah Bookstores We Love: Weller Book Works (Salt Lake City), Back of Beyond Books (Moab)

  1. The Best Bookstore in Vermont: Northshire Bookstore // Manchester Center, Vermont

This warm, family-owned bookstore has been around since 1976, although it moved across the street to take over the beautiful premises of a historic inn. With a great selection, plenty of reading nooks, and a dedicated staff (some of whom have been there for decades), you're sure to find your next favorite read. Close to a third of the shop is dedicated to kids' books, which makes it a perfect excursion for little ones. There's food, too, at the Spiral Press Café, in case customers get peckish.

Other Vermont Bookstores We Love: The Vermont Book Shop (Middlebury), Crow Bookshop (Burlington), Bartleby's Books (Wilmington)

  1. The Best Bookstore in Virginia: Chop Suey Books // Richmond, Virginia

Chop Suey Books in Richmond, Virginia
Russ Walker, Flickr // CC BY-ND 2.0

According to its website, Chop Suey Books has its name because its original location was on the former site of George's Chop Suey, whose rusted sign remained on the wall even after the eatery had gone. But the term chop suey, which roughly translates to "a little bit of this, a little bit of that," also symbolizes the store's eclectic approach, which ranges across subject matter and material. Today the shop is home to two floors of books, both used and new, as well as a very sweet black-and-white cat known to lounge in the shop windows.

Other Virginia Bookstores We Love: One More Page Books (Arlington), BookPeople (Richmond), Blue Whale Books (Charlottesville)

  1. The Best Bookstore in Washington: The Elliott Bay Book Company // Seattle, Washington

A community mainstay since 1973 (even if some still mourn the original, historic Pioneer Square location), Elliott Bay Books is the place to find the latest books from established names and rising stars alike. New releases (as well as some older gems) are prominently displayed with hand-written notes from the sales staff, and the local history section is particularly strong. A downstairs area is one of the best places in town to catch local and touring authors, and the cafe is a perfect spot to refresh or even work on a laptop (provided you can find a seat). For serious bibliophiles, it's a must-see destination in the Pacific Northwest.

Other Washington Bookstores We Love:: Third Place Books (Seattle), Auntie's (Spokane), Darvill's Bookstore (Eastsound, Orcas Island)

  1. The Best Bookstore in West Virginia: Taylor Books // Charleston, West Virginia

It would be easy to lose track of time and accidentally spend an entire day at Taylor Books, Charleston's one-stop shop for all things artsy. Sure, the brick-walled building is charming, and there are thousands of books to choose from, but those aren't the only draws. Customers can also grab a coffee and scone (lovingly made by owner Ann Saville) from the built-in cafe, take a pottery class, stroll through an art gallery, and attend live musical performances on the weekends.

Other West Virginia Bookstores We Love: Paradox Book Store (Wheeling), Books and Brews (Hurricane)

  1. The Best Bookstore in Wisconsin: Dotters Books // Eau Clair, Wisconsin

This independent, woman-owned bookstore works hard to curate its selection to focus on women, authors of color, and smaller publishing presses. One of the ways Dotters stands behind their selections? Every book is forward-facing, meaning no books can be hidden away in the corner of a shelf. And if you can't make it into the beautiful little shop, its monthly subscription service will mail that month's book club pick in addition to a new recommendation list and a locally designed bookmark.

Other Wisconsin Bookstores We Love: Boswell Book Company (Milwaukee), Village Booksmith (Baraboo)

  1. The Best Bookstore in Wyoming: Sidekicks Bookbar // Rock Springs, Wyoming

This bright, cozy little enclave in downtown Rock Springs has everything you need for a relaxing evening in, with or without your favorite bibliophile friends. Find a book on their floor-to-ceiling wall of titles, tuck into one of many white couches that wind through the shop, and order some wine and charcuterie. Sidekicks has partnered with Jackson Hole Winery, so the selection of local wines is as well-stocked as the bestsellers up front.

Other Wyoming Bookstores We Love: Jackson Hole Book Trader (Jackson), Sidekicks Book & Wine Bar (Rock Springs)

By Colin Ainsworth, Erika Berlin, Michele Debczak, Shaunacy Ferro, Kat Long, Bess Lovejoy, Emily Petsko, Javier Reyes, Jake Rossen, and Jenn Wood.

The 15 Best TV Series Finales of All Time

Ursula Coyote, AMC
Ursula Coyote, AMC

What makes a great TV series finale? It depends on the show, of course. But no matter what series you may be watching, you want a finale that ties up loose ends without being annoyingly completist, gives you heart without seeming overly sentimental, and of course makes you feel just as happy, sad, thrilled, or compelled as you did with each previous episode. It’s a very tricky needle to thread, and some series have undoubtedly done it better than others.

In celebration of what it takes to deliver a great final episode, here are (some of) the greatest series finales of all time.

1. The Sopranos // “Made In America”

“Made In America” is, infamously, the episode of television that made millions of viewers briefly think that their cable had just gone out at some crucial moment, when in reality what happened was creator David Chase simply decided one seemingly random moment was the exact second where Tony Soprano’s journey would end. The series finale of The Sopranos spent the better part of its runtime wrapping up a mob war that crippled the family, and then devoted its final minutes to a family dinner set to Journey. Fans still debate the meaning and merits of the final scene, but the sense of palpable unease Chase built up in those last moments—signifying Tony’s perpetual state of watching his back—were a brilliant way to end a show that began as a meditation on existential dread in the first place.

2. Six Feet Under // “Everyone’s Waiting”

The final minutes of “Everyone’s Waiting” are among the most famous in the history of television, and even if the rest of the episode had been a disappointment, they would still rank among the greatest farewells in the medium. As it is, Six Feet Under's final episode with the Fisher family is a gripping, heartfelt, and bitterly funny gem, all building to that last montage. As Sia’s "Breathe Me" plays, we see the deaths of every member of the main cast, which reminds us that death takes many forms beyond mere tragedy, all culminating in the last breaths of Claire. Just thinking about it is enough to make fans of the show burst into tears.

3. Breaking Bad // “Felina”

Few series finales have ever faced such high expectations and managed to rise to meet them so powerfully as Breaking Bad did with its final episode in 2013. “Felina” has everything you could ever want from a Breaking Bad send-off: Walt’s final conversation with Skyler, that incredible revenge shoot-out featuring the rigged machine gun, Jesse’s defiant cry of freedom as he drives away, Walt’s collapse, and that little smile of victory on his face. Some series finales deliver what you want; others deliver what you need. “Felina” somehow manages to do both.

4. M*A*S*H // “Goodbye, Farewell and Amen”

M*A*S*H was on longer than the Korean War was actually fought, and was more than 250 episodes into its run by the time “Goodbye, Farewell and Amen” aired and became one of the most-watched television events in the history of the medium. You’d think the staff of the 4077th might have run out of things to say after such a run, but the series finale manages to be absolutely jam-packed, featuring everything from Hawkeye’s dark repressed memories to Klinger’s wedding. It all builds to that final shot of “GOODBYE” written in stones, which still ranks as one of the most iconic moments in TV history.

5. The Americans // “START”

The Americans quietly became one of the best shows on TV before finally winning a bunch of awards for its final season, and with good reason. The final adventures of Philip and Elizabeth Jennings as they contemplated a return to Russia and an end to their double lives in America were among the best the series ever delivered, all building to a final episode that stuck the landing in every possible way, from the thrills of their final escape to the emotional payoff of their daughter Paige’s big decision.

6. The Wire // "-30-"

The Wire was never going to end anything in a clean, cut-and-dried way, but its series finale did mange to wield the various talents at play in the series to end everything on an ambitious and fairly comprehensive note. The finale reckoned with many of the same questions the entire series did—from the nature of justice to the fragility of power systems and how far people will go to keep them in place—as it worked to resolve the homeless serial killer hoax, illegal wiretapping, and the all-important future of Tommy Carcetti. One last montage reminds us that life goes on in Baltimore, whether the show’s characters have reshaped it for the better or not.

7. Seinfeld // “The Finale”

The series finale of Seinfeld is also among the most divisive in the history of television, and it all begins with an amusing swerve. The show leads off by making us think Jerry and George are about to embark on a typical sitcom sendoff, bidding New York City farewell as they head to California to make a television series, but then the real plot kicks in as the show’s quartet of main characters is arrested for literally doing nothing as a man is carjacked.

The brilliance of the show’s protagonists getting in trouble for the very same thing they’d been doing for nine seasons in a “show about nothing” then pivots to a trial that does play by the sitcom rule of allowing old fan-favorite characters to come back as witnesses, then launches into a wrap-up that mocks the characters, the show’s fans, and the show’s own place of seeming importance in the pop culture landscape. Sitcom finales are usually more like curtain calls; "The Finale" was a provocative final joke.

8. Battlestar Galactica // “Daybreak Parts 1-3”

The finale of Battlestar Galactica might be a little too metaphysical in nature for some viewers, but there’s something about the sense of totality running through it that makes it a perfect sendoff for a series that always placed everything on the line with every single story it told. As the surviving humans of the fleet finally defeat their Cylon enemies, Starbuck sends them to a new home, and they agree to abandon all of their old technology and live among the primitive humans already present on what turns out to be our Earth. It’s a beautiful blending of victory, bittersweet goodbyes, seismic changes to everyone’s lives, angels, the future, and—believe it or not—“All Along the Watchtower.”

9. Star Trek: The Next Generation // “All Good Things…”

“Encounter at Farpoint,” the series premiere of Star Trek: The Next Generation, is a famously slow, bloated affair that was a sign of things to come for the relatively weak first season. “All Good Things…” brilliantly repurposes that story as a time travel saga in which Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart) learns that Q, the alien being who put humanity on trial back in the premiere, is continuing his test of the human race by placing Picard in three different eras of his life. It’s a brilliant conceit that makes an elegant circle out of the series while also allowing Picard to give viewers a grand tour of the series’ entire history, including his own future.

10. Buffy the Vampire Slayer // “Chosen”

Buffy the Vampire Slayer spent weeks setting up its series finale, laying out a last stand that would either end Buffy and her gang of allies forever or wipe Sunnydale off the face of the Earth—or both. The final battle itself has since been dwarfed by more epic series like Game of Thrones, but what makes “Chosen” so magical isn’t its fight scenes, but its heart. With her own army of potential Slayers at her back, Buffy asks Willow to perform a spell that will give them all the powers of a Slayer, leading to one of the most empowering montages in the history of television. Then, even while mourning absent friends, Buffy is able to look toward tomorrow.

11. Newhart // “The Last Newhart”

So many sitcom series finales are all about final goodbyes. Very often characters leave their longtime TV homes for somewhere new, leading to tearful farewells or at least a final moment for everyone to spend one last day together. Newhart absolutely blew that premise up with a twisty, joke-filled finale that includes the entire town being turned into a resort, a five-year time jump, and that brilliant final scene which reveals all of Newhart to have been the dream of Dr. Bob Hartley, Newhart’s character from The Bob Newhart Show. The level of ambition is admirable. That the ambition translated to genuine laughs is wonderful.

12. Twin Peaks: The Return // “Part 17 and Part 18”

Twin Peaks famously ended its early ’90s run with a cliffhanger, which then led to the joyous reception that accompanied The Return, an 18-hour monument to creative freedom which everyone hoped would finally provide some answers. In true David Lynch fashion, though, the answers we got were often difficult to parse. And by the time it was all over, we were left with even more questions. The final two hours of The Return are among the most mind-meltingly intense episodes of television ever devised, all building to a daring and stunning final scene that still has fans talking.

13. The West Wing // “Tomorrow”

The West Wing played the long game with its series finale thanks to a year-long election storyline, which meant that its final episode was always going to be the combination of both an end and a beginning. The intense election story—which included a live debate episode—culminated in the inauguration of a new president, and a farewell to Martin Sheen’s President Josiah Bartlet, but the sense of transition inherent in the plot managed to imbue the series with a new sense of potential energy as it made the turn toward home. Watching “Tomorrow,” you can’t help but fantasize about what it will be like for Josh Lyman and Sam Seaborn to be together in the White House again, changing the world in all new ways. That emotional weight meant that, after seven years, we actually all felt like we could use a little more of The West Wing.

14. Halt and Catch Fire // “Ten of Swords”

Mackenzie Davis as Cameron Howe in Halt and Catch Fire
Bob Mahoney, AMC

Halt and Catch Fire never got the audience it deserved when it was airing, which means many people likely don’t know just how brilliant and daring the show got in its final seasons, which included a time jump, a shocking death, and the dawn of the internet age. “Ten of Swords” is all about closing old chapters and starting new ones, and sends the show’s trinity of remaining major characters in promising new directions, even as they all come to terms with the fact that they can never again recapture what they once had.

15. 30 Rock // “Last Lunch”

30 Rock was one of the most acclaimed comedies of its era in part because of its outright refusal to ever be straightforward about anything. Every plot was jokes on top of jokes and references on top of references, creating a show that rewards viewers who can’t get enough of rapid fire wit (and deserves rewatching). “Last Lunch” continued that tradition while also managing to inject some genuine emotion into the affair, as Jack Donaghy (Alec Baldwin) and Liz Lemon (Tina Fey) reconcile their friendship in a half hour packed with so many gags and callbacks you could watch it half a dozen times and still not catch everything.