Seattle in the state of Washington is a wonderful city for book lovers. In fact, in 2017 Seattle was named a UNESCO City of Literature due to its passion for literature, publishing and engaging with the written word. The city is awash with libraries and booksellers and you’ll find plenty of literary festivals, reading parties and author events. So, if you are looking to hit up the literary hotspots, here are some of the best bookstores in Seattle to visit.
Located on Market Street in the Ballard neighbourhood, the Secret Garden stocks books suitable for all ages. However, as you might have guessed, the shop, which takes its name from the 1911 children’s novel, has a marvellous selection of books for children. Over 40 years in business, this independent bookstore holds author events, school book fairs and cultural events throughout the year.
Both a bookstore and a library, Estelita’s Library focuses on the topics of social justice, ethnic studies and liberation movements. Opened in 2018, it is currently Seattle’s only operating black- and brown-owned bookstore. You’ll find this community hub and bookstore on Martin Luther King Jr. Way South in the Central District of Seattle.
3. Book Larder
The Book Larder is Seattle’s only cookbook shop. Lovers of food and cooking will find on the shelves a carefully selected collection of new, collectable and imported cookbooks and titles on the culinary arts. In-store, plenty of events take place, for instance, author readings and signings, cooking classes, demonstrations and other food-related get-togethers.
At the Elliott Bay Book Company, staff fill the sunlit shelves with a curated collection of indie and bestseller titles on all sorts of topics. The knowledgable staff are always on hand to guide you around the bookcases and to tell you about their top picks. There is a jam-packed calendar of literary events and there’s a gorgeous cafe here too. You can make a day of it, eating, browsing and listening to readings and discussions. It’s a true literary hub in Seattle.
This is the brick-and-mortar retail store of the comic publishing house Fantagraphics. Located in the neighbourhood of Georgetown, Fantagraphics Bookstore and Gallery contains everything Fantagraphics has in print. On the shelves, you’ll also find exclusive merchandise, plus a selection of the best alternative comics from other, select publishers. Bargain hunters should head to the Damaged Room, which has heavily discounted and often out-of-print books and vinyl lovers will be ecstatic to know that Georgetown Records also shares the space. Check online for upcoming readings, signings and screenings, which are very popular here.
Third Place Books in Seward Park is a general-interest bookstore selling new and used books. You can also sell your unwanted books here. This place is huge and you could spend hours browsing all the shelves. Don’t worry if you need to refuel, there is an on-site restaurant serving draft beers, burgers and delicious house-made pretzels served with beer-cheese fondue. Book buying never tasted so good.
Nerds and geeks will love Ada’s Technical Books on Capitol Hill. This bookstore is named after Ada Lovelace, the nineteenth-century mathematician and founder of scientific computing. Filling the shelves are science-minded books and gifts and there is a vegetarian cafe serving up tasty coffee and food. Upstairs you’ll find a co-working space and there are plenty of interesting events, for instance, storytelling and STEM-style edutainment, held throughout the year.