A version of this article was written by me for Independent Book Review.
“If there is a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, you must be the one to write it.” – Toni Morrison
Ann Arbor blew me away with the quality of their bookstores. Each with their own unique flare, the independent bookstore scene in this small town are reason enough to visit this Michigan city.
As far as variety goes, these stores check off a lot of boxes. I walked into bookstores with impressive poetry sections right in the front, wonderful displays, metaphysical selections, new indie press titles, and inexpensive used titles too. Some had second floor cafes that were so welcoming and cozy that I even considered moving there. Okay, I may not have gone that far, but still–these bookstores were so wonderful that I knew I had to share them.
1. Crazy Wisdom Bookstore & Tea Room
This bookstore spoke to my soul. I love finding metaphysical bookshops when traveling, and this one was easily one of my favorites. The employees were so nice when we walked in, and they had an amazing variety of books that ranged from spiritual to some of our indie favorites like Ain’t I a Diva.
You can just tell that every item in the store was thoughtfully chosen. And when you find a title that you just can’t wait to read, you can head upstairs to their tea room where you can enjoy over hundred varieties of teas, coffee, appetizers, and more. I didn’t want to leave.
Since 2013, Literati has been a staple of the Ann Arbor community and has quickly become a favorite for locals and tourists. Located downtown and just a few blocks from the University of Michigan’s campus, you’ll have every reason to stop here when visiting Ann Arbor. They feature genre-specific book clubs and a jam-packed schedule of author readings and events that all take place upstairs in their special coffee shop: Literati Coffee.
3. Dawn Treader Book Shop
From a basement shop to a large storefront with over 70,000 titles, Dawn Treader Book Shop has been an Ann Arbor favorite for over 35 years. This is the kind of store that you can spend an entire day in, discovering titles you’ve always loved and many that you’ve never heard of. Their wide variety may be due to the fact that they buy books back from the community. They even offer book repairs and restorations, but what I noticed first was the giant selection of genre fiction they sold. Sci-fi and Fantasy fans: make your way to the back of the store. There are an incredible amount of stories waiting for you.
4. Westside Bookshop
When you’re looking for antique and rare books in Ann Arbor, you go here. With large glass windows and an old-timey brick building vibe, West Side Bookshop feels like going back in time. They’ve been a staple in the Ann Arbor community since 1975, and it’s clear why they’ve been successful for so long. This is the kind of bookstore that all readers can love. You can smell the pages in this store. Its homey atmosphere features plenty of unique books stacked from the floor to the ceiling along with old pictures and paintings framed on the walls. Oh, and the owners are really sweet, too.
5. Nicola’s Books
Can’t find the book you’ve been looking around for forever? If you’re in Ann Arbor, Nicola’s Books is where you should go. They specialize in book searches and claim to be able to hunt down many out-of-print or hard-to-find titles with very little info needed. And they’ve got new books too!
Their staff is made up of ferocious readers who are readily equipped to help you find your next favorite book. Their wide-open layout features tons of books and is the perfect spot for events like author panels, book launches, and children’s story times.