EDITOR’S PICKS

Independent Bookstores In Houston

Browse at one (or all) of these local nooks.

By Amarie Gipson

Support these local bookstores, now and forever. 

Despite the pressures of Amazon and our increasing reliance on the internet, these unique shops have prevailed and continue to spark our imaginations with new and rare titles. 

Whether it be their genre-specific focus or the intimate design of their store, Houston’s independent bookstores have a unique flair. And the booksellers who run them have dedicated themselves to amplifying storytelling by authors around the globe. No matter how many times “print is dead” falls on their ears, they trust that somewhere, someone is holding a book that has just transformed their life.

Revisit that New Year’s resolution and support your local, independent bookstore. 

Kaboom Books

3116 Houston Ave #6736, (713) 869-7600

If you’re roaming around near Downtown, head to Woodland Heights for a reading break at Kaboom Books. The storefront is both charming and relaxing, with an entrance adorned by lush foliage and an inside overrun with towering shelves of used books (more than 100,000 in stock). Kaboom started in New Orleans and its Houston location has been around for 44 long years. Co-owner John Dillman recommends Ottessa Moshfeg’s 2015 first fiction novel Eileen⁠ which tells the story of a young prison worker in Boston, MA. For more information on store hours and events, visit here.

Brazos Bookstore 

2421 Bissonnet St, (713) 523-0701

There’s no conversation about bookstores in Houston without Brazos. It’s the most prominent in the city, with an up-to-date selection of titles and an emphasis on independent and locally published texts. It was opened in the mid-1970s as a hub for the city’s literary scene. Following Karl Kilian’s retirement in 2006, 27 local booklovers came together to take over the shop from its founder. Brazos staff members Laura Graveline and Joy Preble chose I Who Have Never Known Men by Jacqueline Harpman and Saint Sebastian's Abyss by Haber Mark. Harpman’s book is a fascinating piece of feminist literature with a speculative edge, (it’s also included in Brazos Summer of Indies Book Club, while Mark’s book (who works as a floor manager at Brazos) is a short, dark comedy on art and obsession. For more information on store hours and events, visit here 

Becker’s Books 

7405 Westview Dr, (713) 957-8088

Becker’s is the epitome of a neighborhood bookshop. It’s a family-owned used bookstore where you can (literally) get lost. The space is a 3500-square-foot home with isles and isles of secondhand books every turn. Although he’s sold out of copies in the shop, owner Dan Becker recommends The Physician by Noah Gordon, historical fiction that snapshots the development of medicine in the Middle Ages through the life of a young European boy. For more information on store hours and events, visit here. 

Kindred Stories

2304 Stuart St, (713) 396-2396

The newest and first of its kind, Kindred Stories is a Black-woman-owned bookstore in Houston’s Third Ward neighborhood. They opened their storefront last year and have made a huge impact on the local literary community. Community Engagement and Operations Manager Stevens Orozco recommends Imani Perry’s award-winning biography Looking for Lorraine: The Radiant and Radical Life of Lorraine Hansberry, which chronicles the life and impact of the famous intellectual, activist and author of A Raisin in the Sun (1959) who passed away at 34. For more information on store hours and events, visit here.

Murder by the Book 

2342 Bissonnet St, (713) 524-8597

If you’re in the mood for a killer story (pun intended), Murder by the Book is your safe haven. It’s filled with, you guessed it, mystery novels and magazines and is one of the oldest mystery-focused shops in the United States. McKenna Jordan, the owner, recommends Pay Dirt Road by Samantha Jayne Allen, a P.I. thriller set in Texas. (If you hurry, you can purchase a signed copy at the shop this weekend). For more information on store hours and events visit here.

Blue Willow Bookshop

14532 Memorial Dr, (281) 497-8675

Journey through West Houston and you’ll likely stumble into Blue Willow, a quaint storefront on Dairy Ashford and Memorial. In 2020, the shop was recognized as a finalist for the Publisher’s Weekly Bookstore of the Year award. Founder and owner Valerie Koehler recommends Lessons In Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus as well as a French translation of her indie favorite Fresh Water For Flowers by Valerie Perrin. For more information on store hours and events, visit here.

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