Four More Must-Visit Bookstores for History Buffs
In March 2017, we highlighted a few spots across the country where history buffs who love books (and bookworms who love history) can delight in both. There were so many places worthy of recognition that we thought a second installment was in order. Grab a cup of tea and a map (to plan your road trip, of course) and settle in.
Founded in 1933 by John and Mary Haslam, this bookstore grew from its Depression-era roots into Florida’s largest independent bookstore and a St. Petersburg landmark. After moving four times to accommodate its expanding business, Haslam’s, which is still run by members of the family, now takes up about three-quarters of a city block and offers upwards of 300,000 new and used titles. Rumor has it that in the 1950s, Jack Kerouac would visit when he was tipsy and surreptitiously place his books in more prominent positions on the shelves.
Called the “cultural heart and soul of Big Sur,” the Henry Miller Memorial Library was designated as such by Miller’s close friend Emil White a year after Miller’s death, in 1981. (Miller called Big Sur home between 1944 and 1962.) It encompasses a small coastal cabin, which White himself built in 1961, and the surrounding property.
Miller himself disapproved of memorials, saying that they “defeated the purpose of a man’s life. Only by living your own life to the full can you honor the memory of someone.” Nevertheless, this bookstore/art gallery/event space has been a countercultural hub in Big Sur, regularly hosting musical performances, films, readings, and other events that honor Miller’s literary and artistic legacy.
The Tattered Cover itself has been an institution in the Denver area since 1971 and has expanded to four locations, but its flagship store has inhabited the 1896 Morey Mercantile building on the corner of downtown Denver’s 16th and Wynkoop Streets since 1994. Visitors can find an expansive selection of titles in a cozy setting that encourages lingering and browsing.
Longtime Tattered Cover owner Joyce Meskis, who purchased the first store in 1974, is transitioning to a consulting role this year after passing the torch to new owners, but her impact on independent bookselling in the United States can’t be underestimated: she’s won multiple awards, including the Author’s Guild of America Award for Distinguished Service to the Literary Community.
After opening in 1994 in the front section of the Bryant Building, a 1922 former Chevrolet dealership in Minneapolis’s Uptown neighborhood, Magers and Quinn eventually expanded to occupy the entire first floor. It has since taken over all three stories of the structure, securing its title as one of the largest independent booksellers in the Midwest.
Aside from carrying a plethora of new titles, Magers and Quinn prides itself on specializing in unusual and hard-to-find editions. Don’t miss the “rare and collectible” section—you never know what you might find.