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South Congress Books
Photograph: Courtesy South Congress Books

The best independent bookstores in Austin

Keep Austin weird and well-read by getting lost in our city's best independent bookstores

By Matt Charnock
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Businesses in Austin come and go, but independent bookstores have remained part of our city's thriving literary scene for decades. Even at a time when Amazon can, essentially, deliver any title to your door, people still seem to be clambering for physical book bastions, perusing the best downtown shops and Austin's top stores for gifts to find their new favorite novel. Take a break from the movie theater, dust off those bookmarks and check out our five favorite independent bookstores in Austin.

And don't forget to vote for your favorite in our Love Austin Awards!

Best independent bookstores

BookWoman
Photograph: Courtesy BookWoman

1. BookWoman

Shopping Bookstores Brentwood

Positively queer and unapologetically left-of-center, BookWoman will soon be celebrating their 40th year in operation, during which time they've introduced life changing, eye-opening reads to the Austin community. Offering a wide array of liberal books, especially those centered around past- and modern-day feminism, BookWoman’s “herstory” is, well, one for the books. Be sure to keep tabs on the various book groups that meet here each week to discuss the latest reads.

Monkeywrench Books
Photograph: Courtesy Monkeywrench Books

2. Monkeywrench Books

Shopping Bookstores North Loop

Monkeywrench Books—an all-volunteer, collectively-run bookstore—holds a special place in the Austin book world, as it's the only local book hub of its kind. While by no means offering a Barnes and Noble-like array of choices, the staff at Monkeywrench is still perfectly capable of steering you in the right literary direction, depending on your textual tastes. And, better yet, there’s free coffee to enjoy while you make headway on your seasonal reading list.

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Recycled Reads
Photograph: Courtesy Recycled Reads

3. Recycled Reads

Shopping Bookstores Rosedale

It’s one thing to love a book, but it’s another layer of love to give that book to someone else. At Recycled Reads—a non-profit bookstore run by members of the Austin Public Library— you can swing by and snag a well-thumbed book that its past owner would have warmly recommended. Feel free to take your own already-read selections to be recycled for other readers to enjoy.

South Congress Books
Photograph: Courtesy South Congress Books

4. South Congress Books

Shopping Bookstores South River City

Filled to the brim with vintage books and neon posters— some rare, some not—South Congress Books delights all those who find themselves inside their mural-clad outlet with a welcoming, savvy, well-shelved atmosphere. (Speaking of those wallings of canvassed concrete, the one’s outside of the bookstore are great backdrops for a killer IG upload.) Owner Sheri Tornatore has 25 years of experience in the book industry, so it's safe to say that the selection here is incredibly well-curated.

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5. BookPeople

Shopping Bookstores Market District

We’d be remiss if we didn’t include Austin’s most celebrated independent bookstore, BookPeople. The three-storied dream is full of floor-to-ceiling bookshelves arranged by hyper-specific categories, delighting the literary tastes of any page-turning Austinite. Feel free to grab a coffee and freshly baked pastry from the inside café before (or after) you go about combing for you next read.

In the market for some records, too?

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