“With all the reasons to travel to Nashville, one might be surprised to learn that some people come just to see a small independent bookstore,” writes bestselling novelist Ann Patchett in a recent New York Times essay. She should know. She and business partner Karen Hayes own the store. As SmallBusiness.com originates from Nashville and the store, Parnassus Books, is one of our favorite #buylocal / #shoplocal places in town, we totally agree that Karen’s and Ann’s bookstore is bulging with benefits that go far beyond anything found in a big box retail store. 

For the New York Times, Ann shared some of her favorite independent “destination bookstores” — shops worth making a part of your travels. It is also a great list of independent businesses where you can shop local this holiday season.

Children’s Book Stores

Patchett | “Before we opened Parnassus, I made a fact-finding tour of American bookstores. The best advice I got was this: If you want customers, you have to raise them yourself. That means a strong children’s section.”


Wild Rumpus | Minneapolis
Books of Wonder | New York City
Tree House Books | Ashland, Oregon
Women & Children First | Chicago
Greenlight Bookstore | Brooklyn
Curious George Store | Cambridge, Mass.

Destination Stores

Patchett | “TurnRow Book Company is one of the most beautiful bookstores I know, and the sheer unlikelihood of its presence makes a traveler feel she’s stumbled into an oasis in the Mississippi Delta.”

TurnRow Book Company | Greenwood, Miss.
Square Books | Oxford Miss.
Square Books Jr. (Children’s books) | Oxford Miss.
Off Square  (Special collections, events) | Oxford Miss.
Last Bookstore | Los Angeles
An Unlikely Story Bookstore | Plainville, Mass.

Tiny Stores


192 Books, Manhattan

Patchett | “Sometimes what’s lost in square footage is made up for by a brilliant staff, or maybe it’s just that the people who work in tiny stores really do know exactly where every book is located.”

Corner Bookstore | Manhattan
192 Books | Manhattan
Three Lives & Company | Manhattan
Newtonville Books | Newton, Mass.
Provincetown Bookshop | Provincetown, Mass.
Birchbark Books | Minneapolis

The Venerables


Politics and Prose, Washington DC (Wikimedia Commons)

Patchett | “Politics & Prose is where the Obamas shop, and it’s where the movers and shakers of our nation’s capital come to see what’s really going on. It also happens to be where I eat lunch, as they have the best bookstore cafe I know.”

Politics & Prose Bookstore | Washington, DC
Harvard Book Store | Cambridge Mass.
Grolier Poetry Book Shop | Cambridge Mass.
Books & Books | Miami
Powell’s | Portland, Ore.

Ann Patchett’s Personal Favorites

Patchett | “I have made it a point to go to bookstores in every town I’ve ever driven through. I go both as a writer and a reader, for business and for pleasure, and I have been in love with too many to make a comprehensive list here. Still, I have to call out some of my favorites.”

Boswell Book Company | Milwaukee
McLean & Eakin Booksellers | Petoskey, Michigan
Malaprop’s | Asheville, N.C.
Book Passage | Corte Madera, California
Explore Booksellers | Aspen, California

Photo: Ann Patchett and Sparky, AnnPatchett.com

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