“Best Bookstores in Providence, Rhode Island”
Providence is a small city in a small state, but their bookstores can hang with the best of them. A few years ago, I called Providence home, and some of these stores played a big part in that. With some of them just a couple blocks from my apartment, I’d go frequently just to peruse the shelves and get inspired.
In my time away, one of my favorites closed down and a few intriguing new shops popped up. So I travelled up to Providence to spend the day reacquainting myself with these stores and introducing myself to others. From this recent trip, I’ve compiled a list of must-see bookstores if you’re ever in the area.
I’m happy to say that this list can definitely be explored in a day. Numbers 2&4 as well as 3&5 are only a short walk away from each other and the others are under a 20-minute drive. See, there are perks to being in the smallest state.
Without further ado, here are the best bookstores in Providence, Rhode Island!
1. Riff Raff Bookstore & Bar
Fairly new to the Providence area, this bookstore combines two of my favorite things: reading and drinking. This new book and bar is located in the Olneyville neighborhood at a converted industrial mixed-use building called The Plant. The space is beautiful, boasting an outdoor patio area and a clean open layout inside. Better yet, the books are meticulously curated. I found myself picking up so many titles that I’ve read recently and loved, as well as books I’ve had my eye on for a few months. I’m not sure you can pick a bad book in this shop.
2. Symposium Books
Symposium Books lies smack dab in the middle of downtown on beautiful Westminster Street. Doting a large display window, you can’t walk by this shop without feeling drawn in. Since 2004, Symposium has been a staple of the downtown area with its new and used books, and it really is worth checking out. In addition to their impressive book collection, they have a small record shop inside for all you music lovers out there.
3. Books on the Square
Next to the shops and restaurants in the Wayland Square neighborhood, you’ll find Books on the Square. This family and dog friendly bookshop has been up and running since 1992. They carry over 20,000 titles in store and host a variety of in-store events. Their space is perfect for all of the author readings that they hold, many of which are from local authors, and their weekly story time is a great event for children and parents.
Address: 471 Angell Street, Providence, RI 02906
4. Cellar Stories
A classic in Providence, this bookshop is the vintage search-and-see shop that fuels Bookstagram. Despite its name, you actually walk up a long set of steps upon arrival and come out at the second story of what seems like a big house. The aisles are long and filled with books in every direction. Many of their books are used or rare and in a wide variety of categories including vintage paperbacks, antiquarian volumes, and more. They’re obviously doing something right, because they’ve been thriving in Providence for over 30 years!
5. Paper Nautilus
With shelves of antique and collector books, the vibe in this bookshop whispers history. They’ve been located in East Providence since 1996, and have recently moved to a new location a few doors down from their previous spot. They sell nonfiction books on art, architecture, history, philosophy, and more, but they’ve also got a great collection of fiction. Their stock is largely influenced by the surrounding colleges, Brown and RISD, so they have many scholarly editions and titles on the arts. They also have a selection of new and collectible H.P Lovecraft titles, a huge Providence literary icon.
Address: 19 S. Angell Street, Providence, RI 02906
BONUS: Twenty Stories
Just a few minutes outside of the Providence city line, you’ll find Twenty Stories in Pawtucket. This business is so cool! What started (and continues still) as a bookshop in a van has recently expanded to a brick and mortar in Pawtucket. Each month, the owners curate twenty titles across different genres to put on display and sell in their shop/van. Their van location is ever changing, and their locations for the week can be found on their website and social media. Their new physical space hosts readings, workshops, and community events with local artists. Twenty Stories is 100% worth the tiny detour out of Providence.
About the Author
Jaylynn Korrell is a nomadic writer currently based in Pennsylvania. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @JaylynnKorrell.
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