Some say bookstores are dead. The age of e-books and online shipping has hit shops like Barnes & Noble, Little Professor, and the now-defunct Borders hard. However, there's something special about a small, independent book store that can't be replicated on a website. The ability to browse, to find a corner to read a chapter or two, to pick the brain of literature-loving staff members, and to see authors discuss their writing are part of what makes locally owned bookshops essential.
The following are some of our favorites in the Twin Cities.
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[jump] Magers & Quinn Booksellers
3038 Hennepin Ave. S., Minneapolis
Magers & Quinn is the kind of bookstore that you can get lost in -- and not in a bad way. It's a browsing kind of store that nurtures a proclivity to wander from one section to the next, immersing visitors in all its treasures. Between its extensive fiction collection and its wonderful selection of art and design books, as well as sections filled with tomes on history, foreign language, science, and other topics, Magers & Quinn has something for all nature of curiosities. The business also frequently hosts readings featuring local and national authors.
2002 23rd Ave. S., Minneapolis
Ground zero for socialists, feminists, communists, Queer intellectuals, anarchists, and the Twin Cities leftist intelligencia, Boneshaker Books provides you with all the latest radical thought, as well as plenty of historical leftist literature. This volunteer-run shop is small but cozy, and offers books you won't be able to find anywhere else, such as work by local writers and cutting-edge zines. Located in Seward, across the street from the Playwrights' Center and just around the corner from 2nd Moon Coffee Cafe, this store frequently hosts wonderful radical speakers who spark great discussions.
2720 W. 43rd St., Minneapolis
Wild Rumpus is a magical place where kids can travel to all different kinds of worlds through reading, meeting a few furry friends along the way. No, we don't mean imaginary furry friends (though perhaps those, too); we're talking about the actual kitties and mice and spiders and the chicken (a.k.a. Carl Sagan) who live at the store. Wild Rumpus is a fun place for children, which will get them excited about reading. There are plenty of guest authors and storytimes throughout each month as well.
2115 W. 21st St., Minneapolis
Birchbark Books is one of the coziest little bookstores you'll ever step into. The shop, owned by Louise Erdrich, National Book Award winner and five-time winner of the Minnesota Book Award, has a thorough selection of American Indian writers in various genres, as well as books by non-Native authors. Birchbark is full of cute little nooks and crannies, which enable pleasant browsing, and with its big windows and large canoe hanging from the ceiling, the store's the atmosphere couldn't be better. They regularly host author readings, and often partner with the Bockley Gallery next door for other cool events.
1579 University Ave. W., St. Paul
Midway Bookstore is intense. It's a bit musty -- almost unnerving -- as you walk in, but its got killer stock, especially in the area of antiques and collectibles. There's something very odd about the place, but you'll soon find it has loads of great material that will keep you there for hours. Don't forget to visit the bargain basement.
Once Upon a Crime
604 W. 26th St., Minneapolis
Once Upon a Crime, an award winning independent bookstore located near Lyn-Lake, proves time and again to be a vital resource for mystery lovers in the Twin Cities. The business stocks many works in genres that other bookstores often don't carry, and has an extremely knowledgeable staff that can help you find just what you're looking for. The shop lends huge support to Minnesota authors, with a whole shelf dedicated to books by locals. They also host the annual Write of Spring, a daylong happening featuring dozens of local authors who have published books in the previous year. (Although the event was placed on hold this year, the store has upped the number of local talks and guests it's hosting throughout spring.) They also serve wine and snacks at each literary reception.
Common Good Books
38 S. Snelling Ave., St. Paul
Common Good Books, owned by Garrison Keillor, highlights little-known gems by local authors in a format that's designed to let you intuitively browse. Located near Macalester College, the bookstore is small but cheery, and you're sure to find something interesting to read, even if you weren't looking for it. They also host many readings from local and national writers throughout the year.
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