If books are magic, then bookstores are secluded castles. There’s something already wonderful about going into a bookstore and losing yourself for a few hours. Every city has a few of these wormholes, and Houston is no exception. The list of independent bookstores is long, but these few bookstores in Houston are gems, guaranteed to be worth your quest.
1. Becker’s Books
Stepping into Becker’s is stumbling into an 1800’s library home. A bookstore bungalow. This shop is only one story tall, and is situated on the side of a road. It’s a stunning cardinal red, with insides that are as comparably mysterious. Every crevice exudes time and wisdom, from the worn floorboards to dark brown shelves. Assortments of dissipated gold-lettered book spines are tucked from floor to ceiling. Choose a book – or collection – and spend a rainy afternoon reading while reclined on their glossed leather couch, as if you were in your own study.
2. ¼ Price Books
A twist to note is that the books here don’t really sell for only a quarter of their original price. They actually sell for far more, as most of them are decades-old publications. However, the post-war dreaminess of this tiny shop radiates and calms, from the scent of frayed book edges to handwritten signs that sort genres. ‘The Wonderwall,’ is my favorite. It’s a the wall housing hundreds of poetry books.
3. Murder By the Book
Named after a 1950’s detective novel, Murder By the Book is one of the best bookstores in Houston to uphold a sacred space for the mystery/police/psychological genres. The dim yellow ambiance of the store induces its visitors into altered reality where the next clue could be around any corner. What’s really around that corner are new and used mystery-themed books, and even visiting authors. This bookstore boasts over 200 specialty author signings and events each year.
4. Blue Willow Bookshop
Blue Willow is similar to a Southern antique shop, from its expanse of glass windows held by white picket frames, to its shop sign that hangs from the ceiling down over the entrance. They are a family friendly store. The inside is no-frills and no-nonsense, but promises a book for everyone. The staff is eager to assist if you’re searching for a good read. This book shop is distinctive from others because its neat and compact style doesn’t permit shoppers to feel lost in the bookstore, but rather allows them to feel found and at peace in a sunny room.
5. Kaboom Books
Bookstores in Houston don’t come more packed than the aptly named Kaboom. The walls here are perilously stacked to a near-breaking point with books. With shelves that extend towards the ceiling, the functioning rolling wall ladder is a requirement to reach every title.Visitors can actually hop on the ladder and watch the books whizz by over and around them, as Belle did in Beauty and the Beast. Old time charm like this is increasingly rare. Kaboom Books also has a messy space, which fulfills a lost desire of spending the day roving through literature. Come with the expectation of getting lost in these odds-and-ends, ramming into a bookshelf or three, and taking lots of hall twists. You won’t find that intellectual maze anywhere else.