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Favorite Bookstores in the West

Grab a coffee and settle among the shelves of these readers’ delights.

Book Bin in Salem, Oregon.

Brown Cannon III

November/December 2021 Issue

“I’d highly recommend Changing Hands Bookstore, in both Phoenix and Tempe, Arizona, as by far the best in the West. Starting with the great people, then a superb selection of books covering just about any subject you might have in mind. They have really interesting and unusual gifts, too. The Phoenix store includes a wine bar, and both have very good restaurants attached. Plus they host excellent book signings by many wonderful writers—in person and virtually. We started shopping at the original store in Tempe over 50 years ago and still look forward to every visit.” —Stan Delahoyde

“I have many favorite bookstores, not all just in Oregon. The Book Bin in Corvallis and Salem, the Browser’s Books in Corvallis and Albany, Klindt’s in The Dalles (the oldest continually operating bookstore in Oregon), and of course Powell’s in Portland. Then there is Auntie’s in Spokane, Washington, and Browsing Bison Books in Deer Lodge, Montana. They all have so many wonderful choices.” —Diane Bond

“I love Ruby’s Books in old town Folsom, California. It has a warm, friendly atmosphere, and the staff is always helpful. If they don’t have the book I am looking for, they will order it for me. It’s a great little store.” —Mary Ann Mitchell

“I am partial to used books. And I love supporting local bookstores (a dying breed, unfortunately). So I’ll shout out to Rocket Reuse in Alameda, California, a charming throwback shop with used books, games, movies, music, and vintage clothing.” —Sandi Scheuber

“Without a doubt my favorite bookstore in the West (or anywhere else) is Point Reyes Books in Point Reyes Station, California. It’s big enough for serendipity but small enough to feel manageable. And it’s carefully, thoughtfully, wonderfully curated by people who know and love both books and the local community, and how to bring them together. The nature, poetry, and local history sections are particularly strong, as one would expect of a shop in a place of such stunning beauty and fascinating history.” —Martin Kohout

Outdoor shelves at Bart’s Books in Ojai, California.

Melissa Barnes

“My favorite bookstore is Bart’s Books in Ojai, California. Open since 1964, its claim to fame is the largest open air bookstore in the West. Great place to spend an hour, or all afternoon. Truly a delight!” —Annie Stedman

“The best bookstore I’ve been to is Our Shabby Shack in Lake Havasu City, Arizona. Old books, used books, new books. And then after you read them, you can bring them back for credit and buy more. Plus the people who own the store and manage it are second to none!” —Mary Skinner

“Locally owned, Northtown Books in Arcata, California, has an eclectic selection of books for every adult and child’s taste. The shop is comfortable, friendly, and welcoming to casual browsers. You can find almost any title, and if you can’t, the staff is happy to order it for you. The vintage building is a pleasure all its own!” —Barbara Goldberg

“The Green Arcade is a small shop in San Francisco owned and operated by the amazingly knowledgeable Patrick Marks, who’s been a Bay Area bookseller for decades (Books Inc., Cody’s). The venue also offers wonderful programming (virtual and non) for local authors and topics broadly related to social justice.” —Jim Van Buskirk

“My favorite bookstore is Crawford’s Books in Sacramento. It sells used and new books, and have a credit system: Bring back the books you buy there and receive a discount on any used books purchased. The staff has made several updates recently, including a newly enlarged children’s section. Before the pandemic, it held book signings with local authors, a book club, and a game night for junior high school–age kids. The shop’s latest project is sending books to the military.” —Pat Wood