13 Books Set In Bookstores, Because It's The Perfect Spot For Romance, Mystery, And More
There is a certain mundane magic to bookstores. You walk in and suddenly all is right with the world (even more so if the bookstore has a cat). It doesn't matter whether you're browsing the aisles of a beautiful, old fashioned bookstore filled with well-kept antiques, or attending a slam poetry reading at your favorite coffee shop/collective bookstore, or even just buying a couple of banged up paperbacks from the flea market: any place that sells you books is, almost certainly, a good place to spend your time. Book readers know this. Book writers know this. So it's hardly surprising that so many excellent books are set in and around bookstores.
Here you'll find mysteries set in bookshops, because there's just something about literary retail that screams "this is a cover up for something large and quite possibly nefarious." You'll also find fantasy bookstores, memoirs and essays about real life bookstores, and, naturally, some good old fashioned bookstore romance. If you're missing your adorable home town bookstore, or if you don't have time to sit in your local indie bookshop, waiting to accidentally stumble upon a mystery and/or love interest, these lovely books about bookstores are the next best thing:
'Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore' by Robin Sloan
Clay Jannon was a web-designer, until the Great Recession bumped him out of computer science and into Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore. After just a few days on the job, though, Clay begins to suspect that this is no ordinary bookstore... and when he starts to investigate the customers' peculiar behavior, he uncovers secrets that go far deeper than just a few weird books on the shelves.
'The Little Paris Bookshop' by Nina George
Monsieur Perdu prescribes novels to people from his little floating bookshop on the Seine. He has books for every ailment of the heart and soul. But of course, he's never managed to cure his own heartbreak, until an old, unopened letter sends him on a mission to the South of France to finally find some closure for himself and his equally troubled, literary friends.
'The Thirteenth Tale' by Diane Setterfield
Margaret Lea grew up in a bookstore, surrounded by stories. Now she has the chance to write a biography for the Vida Winter, the elusive author famous for making up outlandish tales about her personal history. Margaret is finally going to get the true story, but talking to Ms. Winter might force her to confront some uncomfortable truths about her own past as well.
'The Bookshop on the Corner' by Jenny Colgan
Nina Redmond loves to pair readers with the perfect book. Or at least, she did — but now that her job at the library is no more, Nina is going to have to find another way to share her passion for reading. The natural solution, of course, is a traveling bookmobile that will yank Nina out of her comfort zone and into a world of new friendships, newborn lambs, and new romance.
'The Shadow of the Wind' by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
Daniel is 11 years old now, and he has forgotten his mother's face. In order to make him feel better, Daniel's father, a book dealer, takes him to the hidden Cemetery of Forgotten Books. Daniel is to choose one book from the secret collection. But the book Daniel chooses proves to be far more than a simple cheer-up read: it ushers him into a twisting mystery, involving murder, magic, madness, and the tragedy of doomed love.
'The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry' by Gabrielle Zevin
A. J. Fikry's wife is dead. His bookstore is failing. And his prized collection of Poe poems has been stolen. This is not the way his life was meant to go. But when a mysterious package arrives at his shop, A. J. is presented with a rare opportunity to make his whole life over again, for better or for worse.
'Severina' by Rodrigo Rey Rosa
What happens when a bookseller falls in love with a book thief? In Severina, our narrator is quietly thrilled to realize that a beautiful, enigmatic woman is stealing books from his shop. But as his obsession with her grows, he starts to lose his grasp on his own reality in this tense, unsettling take on one very skewed bookstore romance.
'Words in Deep Blue' by Cath Crowley
Henry and Rachel were best friends, once upon a time. In fact, Rachel wanted to be more than friends: she wrote Henry a letter, telling him her true feelings before she moved away. She tucked it into his favorite book at his family bookshop. But her letter went unanswered and now, years later, Rachel finds herself back in town, working at that same bookstore, struggling to return to the life and relationships she once loved so much.
'Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore' by Matthew J. Sullivan
Lydia Smith is a clerk at the Bright Ideas Bookstore, where she lives a carefully planned out existence among the shelves. When one of the best loved store regulars dies, however, right in the bookstore's upper room, it's up to Lydia to unravel the mystery of his death, and what it might have to do with her own long-buried secrets.
'84, Charing Cross Road' by Helene Hanff
This one is another bookstore romance, but it has the distinction of being a true story. Helene Hanff was a freelance writer living in New York City when she started exchanging letters with a used-book dealer in London at 84, Charing Cross Road. Despite their separation, the two developed a charming, hilarious long distance friendship based on their mutual love of books.
'My Bookstore: Writers Celebrate Their Favorite Places to Browse, Read, and Shop' edited by Ronald Rice
Naturally, most writers have a lot of feelings about their favorite bookstore. This collection brings together both heartfelt and humorous odes to bookshops from Isabel Allende, John Grisham, Ann Patchett, and numerous other authors who enjoy browsing the shelves from time to time.
'The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend' by Katarina Bivald
Sara has traveled all the way from Sweden to Iowa to meet her pen pal, Amy. Unfortunately for both of them, she arrives just as Amy's funeral is ending. Filled with grief and trapped in a tiny farm town, Sara decides to do the only logical thing: open a bookstore. As Sara tries to share her love of books with the people of Broken Wheel, though, she winds up making some unconventional choices that could change the town forever.
'The Bookshop Book' by Jen Campbell
As the title suggests, The Bookshop Book is a book about bookshops. From Book Barges in France to booksellers in the Mongolian mountains to antique book vending machines in Canada, this book chronicles the strange and delightful stories behind some of the world's most interesting bookshops. Tackling over three hundred bookshops across six continents, it's a fascinating journey for anyone who enjoys buying, selling, and reading books.