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Stores with Stories

The literary capital of Texas: Our favorite bookstores to whittle away an afternoon

Farewell Books stack of books
Say hello to your new favorite book store: Farewell Books. Photo by Farewell Books/ Facebook
Austin Photo Set: News_Ramona Flume_South Congress Books_October 2011_book case
Peruse first editions and a treasure trove of used books at South Congress Books. Photo by Ramona Flume
Malvern Books sign
Malvern Books used to be a West Campus porn shop. Photo by Sofia Sokolove
Austin photo: Places_Shopping_BookPeople_Exterior
Behold, the mecca of all independent book stores. Courtesy of She Is Too Fond of Books
Farewell Books stack of books
Austin Photo Set: News_Ramona Flume_South Congress Books_October 2011_book case
Austin_photo: Shopping_MonkeyWrench Books_exterior
Malvern Books sign
Austin photo: Places_Shopping_BookPeople_Exterior

Between new literary magazines popping up left and right, local authors rising to fame, and hosting the yearly Texas Book Festival, Austin has officially become a literary hotspot. And like any great literary town, behind all of the creative collaboration and great stories are some great stores. Bookstores, we mean. Here’s a few of our favorite ones to disappear into for an afternoon.

Malvern Books
Tucked away in West Campus, in a space formerly occupied by a porn shop called Dreamer’s Video, Malvern Books is the newest addition to Austin’s indie lit scene. A go-to spot for discovering emerging voices in literature, the store has a strict policy about only carrying independently published work. The one-room store features an entire wall devoted to poetry, plus cozy armchairs and wooden tables overflowing with zines, plays and graphic novels. Plus, there’s plenty of open space and a stage for hosting community events ranging from book clubs to local readings to birthday parties for deceased poets.

Farewell Books
This progressive new and used bookstore and gallery space fits right in on Austin’s artsy east side. The lovely, sunny space features hardwood floors and long wooden tables where vintage French paperbacks co-mingle with new coffee table books filled with beautiful photography. Wander around the corner of the store and take in the latest work hanging on the white walls — the gallery space is filled with rotating shows from both local and national artists. Nestled in the back is some of the finest espresso in town, brewed by local roaster Flat Track Coffee, the guys behind Brew & Brew.

South Congress Books
A book lover's bookstore if there ever were one, South Congress Books is a carefully curated treasure chest of first editions, beautifully bound volumes and unique prints and papers. Tucked in among the loud, quirky shops of iconic South Congress, leafing through the literary gems at South Congress Books feels extra special and indulgent.

MonkeyWrench Books
On the flourishing North Loop strip, between some of Austin’s best vintage shops, restaurants and cocktail lounges, sits the radical bookstore MonkeyWrench Books. Volunteer-based and collectively owned and operated, MonkeyWrench Books features an extensive collection of radical leftist literature, including zines, magazines and even some movies. Combine that with $1 coffee, and it’s definitely the best place in town for feeding your underground movements and alternative views.

Austin’s beloved independent bookstore mecca is comprised of two glorious stories of literary goodness. Stocked floor to ceiling with shelves packed with outward-facing books and staff pick cards make BookPeople the best place in Austin — and possibly in all of Texas — to spend an afternoon. An integral part of Austin’s thriving literature community, BookPeople has an impressive event calendar, hosting local and national authors almost every night of the week.

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