BEST BOOKSTORE (USED) - 2006
Majors and Quinn
Uptown was never the "white, black, Puerto Rican, everybody just-a-freakin'" Shangri-La Prince describes in the neighborhood's semiofficial anthem, but back in the '80s and early '90s it was fairly cool, with its punks lingering and panhandling in front of McDonalds, Pavement playing a packed Uptown Bar, and not so many Gaps and American Eagle Outfitters around to harsh the mellow. On the bright side, Hennepin and Lake is more than ever the bibliophile's Mecca in these parts. Majors and Quinn is the area's best all-around bookseller, the quirky independent Orr is still hanging on, and Booksmart has two floors of inexpensive used books, a few collectables, and a small but excellent new-books area. Booksmart, now independent, used to be owned by Cheapo, and it follows that institution's more-is-more approach: One can easily spend an hour or so browsing through the week's new arrivals. The fiction section is extensive, with lots of trade paperbacks in good shape, and there's also an especially impressive array of women's studies, sci-fi, and lit-crit volumes. You'll always find a good supply of smarty-pants titans like Nabokov and Borges along with bobo humorists like Sarah Vowell, and you probably won't find a more comprehensive offering of Chomsky or Foucault in town, if that turns you on. The staff is helpful, well-informed, and nonconformist—very old-school Uptown.