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10 Must-See Bookstores in Boston

"10 Must-See Indie Bookstores in Boston" is a literary listicle by Jaylynn Korrell about where to find the best bookshops in Boston, MA. Shops include Brattle Book Shop, Brookline Booksmith, and more.

“10 Must-See Bookstores in Boston”

by Jaylynn Korrell

Whether you’re just visiting or you live down the block, don’t miss these indie bookstores in Boston.

There is a lot to see and do in Boston, especially if you love to read. Boston might be one of the most bookish cities in the country and an excellent place for book lovers to visit while on the east coast.

Bookstores in Boston can be found on some of the most historic streets in the heart of downtown or snug and cozy in one of its surrounding neighborhoods. You’ll find Black-owned bookstores, women-owned bookstores, and some shops that have been around for over 100 years.

Here are some of the best indie bookstores in Boston.


1. Brattle Book Shop 

9 West St, Boston, MA 02111

You CANNOT go to Boston without visiting one of America’s oldest and largest used book shops.

Brattle Book Shop is a staple in Boston and for good reason. Sitting right in the heart of downtown, Brattle is a three-story building that carries over 250,000 books, maps, prints, and postcards. You can go here to hunt for used books, out-of-print books, and sought-after first editions and collectibles. Peep this IG post for a look at their outdoor section & mural from when Joe and I visited.

2. Commonwealth Books

Downtown Crossing – 9 Spring Lane Boston, MA 02109

Tucked conveniently away off of a main street in downtown you can find Commonwealth Books. There are over 40,000 titles ranging from used books to medieval manuscripts. With a focus on books on subjects like poetry, decorative arts, history, and literature, it won’t be hard to find something worth your while in this cozy Boston bookstore. 

3. Harvard Bookstore 

Harvard Book Store 1256 Mass Ave

If you’re in the Harvard area, you’ll have to take a break from peeking in on lectures and taking in the architecture to check out Harvard Book Store. This locally owned and independently run bookstore has been a landmark in Cambridge since 1932. Its gorgeous design will easily draw you in from the street, but it’s the books that’ll keep you there.

Don’t worry, they’re not just selling textbooks at this spot. With thoughtful curation and thousands of titles filling their shelves, you shouldn’t be surprised if you find yourself spending an hour or so browsing around. You can also fill your time by attending one of their numerous author events that feature some of the most notable authors in the world. 

4. More Than Words Warehouse Bookstore

242 E Berkeley St, Boston, MA 02118

This non-profit bookselling businesses doesn’t just sell books, they also fund youth development programs. All of the proceeds from this amazing place go to job training and youth development programs. It’s also run by local youth!

So if you’re looking to buy books and support an amazing cause at the same time More Than Words Warehouse Bookstore is the place to go. 

5. Papercuts J.P

60 South St, Jamaica Plain, MA 02130

If you’re in or around the Jamaica Plain neighborhood in Boston, then you’ll HAVE to visit Papercuts Bookshop. This award-winning, woman-owned independent has been open since 2014, and it was created by a woman who worked at Little, Brown for a decade before.

They’ve hosted some of the most notable names in the literary world for their readings, and they currently run a house imprint called CUTLASS PRESS where they publish books and anthologies. They also have a pretty amazing gift section where you could find some great literary gifts!

6. Frugal Bookstore 

57 Warren St, Roxbury, MA 02119

Frugal bookstore is the only Black-owned bookstore in Boston. This community bookstore is located in Roxbury and is driven by their passion to promote literacy with children, teens, and adults in the area. They feature new books only, so don’t be surprised to see some of the latest and greatest books on the market on their shelves. 

7. Trident Booksellers & Cafe

338 Newbury St, Boston, MA 02115

Located on one of the busiest and best shopping streets in Boston, trident Booksellers & Cafe is an easy stop to add to any tourist trip. It is a thriving cafe on one side and a super browsable bookshop on the other.

In other words, it’s a reader’s dream scenario. You can grab a bite to eat, pick up a book, and read it while you sip on a hot beverage.

8. Brookline Booksmith

279 Harvard St, Brookline, MA 02446

Brookline is one of my favorite places in the Boston area, and the Booksmith is a big part of that.

This indie bookstore has been family-owned and locally run since 1961 and has been an amazing community space since then. Back in 1961, they opened under the name Paperback Booksmith, with a mission to get the East Coast to recognize that “serious” books could also be printed in paperback. Before that, paperbacks mostly features westerns and nurse stories.

Since then the Brookline Booksmith has become one of the first books to display books by category rather than publisher and continues to make great strides to bring great books to everyone who walks through their doors. They even host a small press book club, which you know I’m getting behind!

9. Grolier Poetry

6 Plympton St, Cambridge, MA 02138 

Poetry lovers will rejoice that such a place as Grolier Poetry exists in the Boston area. Since 1927, this poetry-focused bookshop sells modern, classic, and the latest contemporary poetry. You can find them in the heart of Cambridge right off of Harvard square and pick up some some poetry to read while you’re taking in the area.

10. I AM Books

124 Salem St, Boston, MA 02113

I AM Books is not your typical bookstore. Labeled as an Italian American cultural hub, the books you’ll find here are predominantly fiction and nonfiction by Italian and Italian Americans, books in Italian, and cookbooks and books on travel. This unique bookstore shines a light on Italian writing and should not be missed if you’re visiting bookstores in Boston. 


About the Author

Jaylynn Korrell has been writing reviews and blog posts for IBR since the very beginning. She takes the photographs and manages the IBR Instagram page. In her spare time, she likes to play board games and take road trips around America. She is the founder of Good Gift Lists.


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