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5 Best Independent Bookstores in Graduate Towns

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At the top of our “to find” list when exploring a new town — along with the locals’ favorite coffee shop and the most spirited campus bar — is the best independent bookstore.

There’s something about winding through the aisles, flipping through paperbacks that we can’t resist.

We tapped five of our favorite local shops for their go-to books this summer. Read on for their picks.


Literati Bookstore in Ann Arbor, Michigan

It’s not just a great selection of books that draws us to Literati Bookstore in downtown Ann Arbor — it’s the design, too. The store boasts a mix of repurposed, reimagined and thrifted furniture and locally designed pieces. Sound familiar?

At Graduate Ann Arbor, you’ll find an outpost of Literati in the lobby. This new mini lending library features a collection of 20 titles curated by the bookstore. Pick up a book to read during your stay.

What’s at the top of their list this summer? Number One Chinese Restaurant by Lillian Li.

Li, a University of Michigan grad, currently works at Literati, and her coworkers couldn’t be more excited about all the positive reviews for her debut novel.


Pegasus Books in Berkeley, California

With an “everchanging mix” of new titles, used books, magazines and cards, Pegasus Books has a little something for everyone.

This summer, the store is loving The California Field Atlas by Obi Kaufmann. Equal parts art and info, the book features Kaufmann’s watercolor trail paintings and maps mixed with ecological details about the vast state and its wildlife. It’s a great companion for your summer road trip across California.

Kaufmann is giving a free “visual presentation” of his book at Pegasus in September. From Graduate Berkeley, the store is just a 15-minute walk down Durant Avenue. 


Prairie Lights Books in Iowa City, Iowa

When we designed Graduate Iowa City, we looked to the town’s rich literary history for inspiration. One spot that spoke to us was Prairie Lights Books.

A local hub for all things lit, the store just celebrated its 40th anniversary in May. Over the years, many famous authors have come through the doors, including Annie Proulx, Michael Chabon, David Sedaris and Toni Morrison.

Prairie Lights offers a robust calendar of events and readings — giving you a few more reasons to visit Iowa City this summer. While you’re in the store, the staff recommends picking up a copy of Less by Andrew Sean Greer.


Square Books in Oxford, Mississippi

On the other side of the courthouse from Graduate Oxford, you’ll find Square Books, which inhabits three buildings on downtown Oxford’s historic square. That’s more than 10,000 square feet of books for your browsing pleasure.

If you’re planning a visit to Oxford, Square Books recommends the Selected Short Stories of William Faulkner or Larry Brown’s collection Facing the Music to get a taste of the town’s past “rendered in exquisite prose.”


Magus Books in Seattle, Washington

The largest used book store in Seattle, Magus Books is a great place to find out-of-print and off-the-beaten-path books.

For a bit of Seattle flavor, the staff at Magus recommends The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein and Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple — both local authors.

The store is in Seattle’s University District, just a couple blocks from Graduate Seattle, which opens this fall.

Follow Graduate Hotels on Instagram to stay in the know about the Seattle grand opening and new projects in the works.


Photo: Literati Bookstore

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