Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday: Best Bookstores and Libraries

via Mint Tea and a Good Book

Well hey!  It's a Top Ten Tuesday Freebie week over at The Broke and the Bookish, and that means I get to pick my very own topic.  After a visit to the Strand a couple of weeks ago, I felt inspired to compile a list of my favorite bookstores and libraries, so the Freebie timing is perfect.

1.  Strand (New York City)
This bookstore is big ("18 Miles of Books" being the famous slogan) and peopled with workers who use book trucks.  Those two elements, along with the tall stacks, help me to think of it almost more like a library than a bookstore, in a way.  Though of course it is still a commercial (though independent!) space.  It's got pretty great prices, too; some books have tags that favorably compare the Strand's price to the e-book or amazon price.  They also have an incredible rare books department.

2.  The King's English (Salt Lake City)
via Boys and Literacy
 Cute, quiet, cozy and homey place, with a welcoming, knowledgeable staff.  They even have a resident cat!  (Or, at least, they did back in 2005 when I last visited.  I think I did hear that the poor thing had passed away, but maybe there's a successor there now.)

Widener Reading Room, via
3.  Widener Library (Cambridge, MA)

Ah, Widener!  I could (and would love to) post photo upon photo of this amazing place.  The marble floors and iron stacks!  The ancient books (I found one from 1607) hidden in plain sight!  The complete Gutenberg Bible!  The sheer size and scope of the place!
I was really proud to work at Widener, even though my job was nowhere near glamorous. 

4.  Harvard Bookstore (Cambridge, MA)
Not to be confused with the actual Harvard bookstore (called The Coop and managed by Barnes & Noble), this place is unaffiliated with H-bomb and independently owned.  It's also the only place I know that has in-house, on-demand printing performed by a robot named Paige M. Gutenborg.  What the what?  I know, right??  Read all about it here.

5.  The City Library (Salt Lake City)
Whenever I visit a really cool public library I feel proud to be an American.  Of course, other countries have awesome libraries, too.  But when I see a place like The City Library, it gives me hope that something is going right in our little part of the world.  *sigh*

6. Sam Weller's Books (Salt Lake City)
It's hard for me to say whether this one or King's English is my favorite bookstore in Salt Lake.  If you go for the bigger, hipster-ier, downtown vibe, you can't beat Sam Weller's.  I check the used section for out-of-print things whenever I'm in town.
Also, the name has apparently been changed to Weller Book Works, and it has moved.  I shall continue to call it by the old name and imagine it in the old location like the stubborn old fart I am.

7.  The Library of Congress, Jefferson Building(Washington, D.C.)
Peep more beautiful photos of the booklover's mecca here.

8.  The Tattered Cover (Denver, CO)  (I haven't been to the Highlands Ranch one, but it looks kinda blah.)
16th Street location, via
 With two equally beautiful locations in Denver and an event schedule that knocks it out of the park, how could I not include The Tattered Cover on my list?  No visit to my 'rents is complete without a TC excursion.

9.  George Peabody Library (Baltimore, MD)
My cousin-in-law had her wedding here last year.  Can you imagine a more stunning place for a wedding?  It was like a dream.  I especially love that the library has maintained its 19th-century vibe, including the original books and their availability to the public. 

10.  McKay Music Library (Salt Lake City)
Gardner Hall, home of the MacKay Music Library.  via.
Awwwww.  This is the home of many happy memories for me- it's where I first learned a little about library science, it's where I got to know some of my best friends, and it's where I met my husband.  I still sometimes look back on Gardner Hall (where the University of Utah School of Music is housed) as a place of chronic anxiety and stress.  But the music library was and still is like a sweet, quiet haven in the middle of it.  Such a nice place.