The Big Map of Texas Indie Bookstores (2024)

Welcome toIndie Bookstore Week, Texas Monthly’s salute to the bookshops that have shaped the lives of our readers and writers.

The book news out of Texas isn’t all about bans, lawsuits, and school board battles. We noticed something, out in the field: our state today has more independently owned bookstores than we’ve ever seen before. Texans crave bookshops in our communities, and whether as entrepreneurs or customers, we’ll take action to keep them there.

Over the past decade or so, and especially since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, new indies have opened in Texas at a rapid clip, joining venerable old institutions such as BookPeople, in Austin; Murder by the Book, in Houston; and the Twig in San Antonio that have shaped the lives of our magazine’s writers and readers.

In the face of online retail giants and big-box stores, many of us believed that our communities could no longer support locally owned bookstores. So it’s maybe a surprise that new shops are sprouting in small- to medium-sized cities (Abilene, Boerne, San Angelo, Seguin, Waco, Waxahachie) and even in tiny towns (Clifton, Rockdale). New indies are deepening the cultural offerings in suburbs (Arlington, Keller, Pflugerville). They’re adding even more charm to Texas’s beloved courthouse squares (Denton, Georgetown, Granbury, and Rockwall). And they’re filling out more-populous places, such as Austin and South Dallas, with patchworks of neighborhood stores.

The new shop owners are a diverse bunch, and their businesses are too. Waxahachie has a combination bookshop and plant store. Selma, outside San Antonio, is home to a store lovingly devoted to the horror genre. In Austin, Houston, and elsewhere, Black entrepreneurs have opened new spaces dedicated to Black writing and thought. In Seguin (as in Austin, Belton, Dallas, Longview, and San Antonio), you can run up a bar tab in the same place where you buy the latest Brené Brown.

Suddenly, there was an abundance of independently owned bookstores in Texas, so we decided to map as many of them as we could find. Though we’ve got nothing against a good Barnes & Noble, we mapped only independent stores, as a celebration of local Texas flavor. The list covers shops whose stock is at least 50 percent new titles. We recognize the impact of shops such as Brownsville’s Búho; Burrowing Owl, in Canyon; Brave Books and Literarity, both in El Paso; and Recycled, in Denton, but our focus here is on places that sell new releases, that participate in the latest literary culture—carrying your book club picks, hosting touring authors, and sometimes fighting book bans. As one owner we spoke with, Arlene Kasselman of Abilene’s year-old Seven and One Books, said: “A bookstore can move the needle on how we think.”

Abilene

Seven and One Books

South Africa native Arlene Kasselman and her son Spencer opened this shop last year, renovating a long-empty space amid several revitalizing blocks of old downtown Abilene. There’s a Mary Oliver quote painted at the entrance, and behind the cottagey hanging sign that reads “Seven and One: A Book Sanctuary” is a high-ceilinged, airy haven for the city’s book-loving community. The stock includes new fiction and nonfiction, a children’s corner, a bookcase full of classics, and stationery and gift items. Customers, including many from the four nearby colleges and universities, take advantage of the free hot tea—they put on a kettle and make themselves a cup, Arlene says. On our visit, one group of women doing needlework had taken over the sofa area and another was having a lively discussion at a game table. It’s Abilene’s new living room. 1138 N. Second, Abilene.
Events: yes
Food & drink: no
Alcohol: no

Texas Star Trading Co.

Glenn Dromgoole, a veteran Texas newspaperman and prolific author, and his wife, Carol, opened this bookstore and gift shop in a small downtown storefront in 2004, then moved it to this nearby corner three years later. The new bookshop Seven and One Books, just across the street (how many towns have a block with multiple indie bookstores?!), carries general-interest stock, but Texas Star is all about the Lone Star State. Over the years, it has expanded its gift offerings—foodstuffs, clothing, souvenirs, and the like—and these now account for the majority of revenue, but the selection of Texas-themed books remains strong, and the Dromgooles still consider it the heart of their business. You’ll find a cookbook from the chef of the legendary Perini Ranch Steakhouse, a half hour away; works by literary heavy hitters such as John Graves, Stephen Harrigan, and Larry McMurtry; plenty of Texas history and other nonfiction (including Texas Monthly’s Lone Stars Rising); children’s books, including the Hank the Cowdog series (writer John R. Erickson is a friend of the store); and books from many Abilene-area authors, whose titles are some of the biggest sellers here. Texas Star supports them with frequent readings and signings and itself publishes books by local writers once or twice each year. 174 Cypress, Suite 101, Abilene.
Events: yes
Food & drink: no
Alcohol: no

Alpine

Front Street Books

It calls itself the best indie bookstore in West Texas, and it’s hard to disagree. This good-sized shop, which opened in 1995 in downtown Alpine down the block from the Amtrak station, is full of new (and a smattering of used) titles, with an especially strong collection of books about Texas and the West. 121 E. Holland Avenue, Alpine.
Events: yes
Food & drink: no
Alcohol: no

Arlington

Pantego Books

This tiny shop is named after the tiny town of Pantego, which, along with another small enclave, Dalworthington Gardens (which gives the store its street address), is entirely surrounded by Arlington. Millennial owners Morgan and Lee Moore, fulfilling a long-held dream of owning a bookstore, opened in the strip mall space next to the local landmark Campo Verde Tex-Mex restaurant in October 2022. The shop has just launched its first book club, and its growing stock includes a small selection of current fiction, nonfiction, YA, and children’s titles, with a few surprises. The Moores are good at social media—follow the shop on Instagram or TikTok to learn about events or get peeks at the new-releases table before you head over. 2910 W. Pioneer Parkway, Dalworthington Gardens.
Events: yes
Food & drink: no
Alcohol: no

Austin

Alienated Majesty Books

This store, which opened just this August near the University of Texas, may be new, but the Austin literary community already knows it, in a way. Its spirit and much of its stock are comfortingly similar to those of the beloved shop that formerly occupied the space: Malvern Books, which closed last New Year’s Eve after nine years in business. Alienated Majesty (the name comes from an Emerson quotation) is still gearing up, but its shelves already hold an impressive collection of literary fiction and nonfiction, mostly from high-quality smaller presses, as well as foreign literature in English translations and poetry. Here’s to at least nine more years. 613 W. Twenty-ninth, Austin.
Events: yes
Food & drink: no
Alcohol: no

Black Pearl Books

Take a break from the dreary commercial sprawl along Burnet Road in North Austin and duck into this little shop, which Katrina Brooks opened in 2022 after getting into bookselling with a series of pop-ups. The exceptionally friendly staff has created a cozy spot for discovering Black writers and exploring a range of social and political issues—or just hanging out in the small lounge area. The children’s selection is smart and inclusive, and grown-ups may want to grab a coffee from the tool cabinet turned beverage station in the back, then check out the clever “book bar,” where they can browse galleys of forthcoming titles and place advance orders.7112 Burnet Road, Austin.
Events: yes
Food & drink: no
Alcohol: no

BookPeople

With two floors stuffed with product, BookPeople, founded in 1970, matches the scale of your favorite megachain bookstore but maintains a strong independent—and Austin—spirit. It’s a powerful force on the literary scene—a partner of the Texas Book Festival and one of two Texas stores to have joined a lawsuit fighting a state law that makes it more difficult for indies to sell books to schools. And it’s big: fiction, literary and otherwise, occupies a large part of the first floor, next to big helpings of cookbooks, Texana, and essays, along with cards, journals, and jewelry. There’s a popular coffee counter too, with plenty of hangout tables. Upstairs has strong sections in art, film, and music, as well as enormous children’s and YA collections. It’s also where you can settle in for events with nationally touring authors and local ones, such as the occasional Texas Monthly writer. BookPeople is a whole world. 603 N. Lamar Boulevard, Austin.
Events: yes
Food & drink: yes
Alcohol: no

BookWoman

BookWoman has been serving Austin for almost fifty years. This North Lamar storefront, its site since 2008, is full of books by and about women, and it functions as a true community for readers and writers. Owner Susan Post has created an LGBTQ-friendly, feminist, and body-positive space, and she is highly responsive to customers about what to stock, with fiction for every taste; plenty of titles on psychology, wellness, and social and political issues; and great reads for children and young adults. There’s a busy calendar of readings—by, say, novelist Elizabeth McCracken or the current poet laureate of Texas—open mic nights, and other events. The knowledgeable staff is welcoming to all; masks were required as of September 2023, in consideration of staff and customers with disabilities. 5501 N. Lamar Boulevard, Suite A-105, Austin.
Events: yes
Food & drink: no
Alcohol: no

First Light Books

You might not think Hyde Park residents would need a neighborhood bookstore, with the mighty BookPeople a few minutes away and BookWoman and now Alienated Majesty nearby. But Austinites are flocking to this shop that locals Taylor Bruce (creator of the Wildsam field guides), Robin Bruce, and Breezy Mayo opened in August in the former post office building on Speedway. It’s a general-interest store, with a stock of new titles and backlist essentials; note the well-chosen art and design books and specialty paper items. The space’s design—of interest, naturally, considering the building’s history and Austin’s mania for aesthetics—nods to the building’s sixties roots with a panel of modernist stained glass, some banquettes, and hanging globe lights. The smartest feature may be the bar, which serves coffee, pastries, and cereal in the morning and wine, beer, and snack fare later on, with ample indoor and outdoor seating areas. It’s been a scene since day one. 4300 Speedway, Suite 104, Austin.
Events: yes
Food & drink: yes
Alcohol: yes

Reverie Books

In a South Austin strip that has boomed with new locations of classic Austin eateries in the past few years—as a certain flavor of old-school Austin flees farther south—Reverie Books opened in late 2021 as a little neighborhood bookstore. In its narrow, packed space, you’ll likely find the smart new fiction you’re looking for (Zadie Smith’s latest on our latest visit—check!), along with many titles that fit Reverie’s mission, which is to serve folks in the community, including its most marginalized members, and promote social justice. The store has helped get LGBTQ-themed books into the hands of kids who couldn’t otherwise get them and has hosted a banned book club. Say hi to shop cat Stormy (or sometimes her backup, Washer).5330 Menchaca Road, Suite D, Austin.
Events: yes
Food & drink: no
Alcohol: no

The Big Map of Texas Indie Bookstores (3)

Vintage Bookstore & Wine Bar

It sounds like a used bookstore, but Vintage, which opened in 2022 in a restaurant and bar district in East Austin, offers multiple rooms lined with new titles. This is not so much a place to browse books in hushed silence as a place to share conversation (about books, of course) with friends over a glass or two. Order a goblet of red, select your own charcuterie provisions from the fridge, and choose from an assortment of seats—upholstered armchairs and sofas, tables for your laptop. Or not—you might prefer to stroll the shelves, vino in hand. Events include author appearances, live-music nights, and yoga sessions with wine (“Class and a Glass”). 1101 E. Eleventh, Austin.
Events: yes
Food & drink: yes
Alcohol: yes

Bastrop

The Painted Porch Bookshop

Author and one-man Stoicism industry Ryan Holiday opened this downtown Bastrop store, with his wife, in 2021. Painted Porch is a translation of Stoa Poikile, the portico in ancient Athens from which Zeno launched stoic philosophy into the world, and the shop reflects Holiday’s reading passion, with a wall of ancient Greek philosophy and thoughtful self-help near the front entrance. It’s mainly a nonfiction store, with a small section of old and recent literary classics for novel readers. The children’s section, in its own room, is strong, and we enjoy the towering fireplace surround consisting of stacked books.912 Main, Bastrop.
Events: yes
Food & drink: no
Alcohol: no

Belton

The Blackbird Books & Spirits

We’re confident in declaring this the world’s only bookstore that you enter by sliding aside a gilt-framed, life-size portrait of Ma Ferguson (a Bell County native). Behind that delightful door is what the owners are calling a bookstore speakeasy—don’t fear, you won’t need a password. You just need to know to enter the redeveloped Katy building, then walk through the small pizza joint and down a bright hallway past the bathrooms. Inside the moody, windowless bookstore, the walls are painted dark green, the shelves are lined with a small but solid collection of new titles, and there’s a full bar, along with table and sofa seating. We ordered a Gin Austen and a Murder on the Orient Espresso and settled in with our book purchases, next to a party of Harry Potter–costumed adults who’d just come from a movie screening.203 N. East, Suite E, Belton.
Events: yes
Food & drink: yes
Alcohol: yes

Boerne

The Boerne Bookshop

The entrance to this attractive, compact bookstore is around the side, through the parking lot, and behind the Richter Bakhaus (and its hubcap-size cinnamon rolls). Inside you’ll find a surprisingly large stock, well chosen to satisfy a wide range of readers. Most books are displayed spine out, packed along shelves, so there’s more than there may first appear, including one of the better selections of nonfiction we’ve seen in a store this size, particularly in history and politics, Texana, and nature and the outdoors. But it’s a rewarding general-interest store for anyone: fiction or nonfiction lover, very young or otherwise.153 S. Main, Suite 120, Boerne.
Events: yes
Food & drink: no
Alcohol: no

Brenham

The Book Nook

Brenham seems to have heartily embraced this little gem of a bookshop, located one block from the Washington County courthouse on a downtown corner, where it moved in 2017 to expand its space by several hundred square feet. Some gently used books are mixed into the stock of new titles, which includes literary and genre fiction, elevated editions of classics (a wall of them—there’s a lot of Jane Austen product), nonfiction, and children’s and YA books, which get their own separate rooms. The place has its own personality: we’ve seen the Book Nook throw a packed author signing at the Must Be Heaven ice cream parlor and sandwich shop across the street. There’s also maybe the biggest collection of stickers we’ve seen in a bookstore—and indie bookstores are mad for stickers. 108 S. Douglas, Brenham.
Events: yes
Food & drink: no
Alcohol: no

Bryan

Whimsy & Wild Emporium

This spot is a treasure for families in Bryan and the Brazos Valley area. It’s a children’s bookstore, yes, but also an event and interactive space. Whimsy & Wild hosts birthday parties and other celebrations, and the space is designed to delight kids and inspire imaginative fancies, with, among other things, a Narnia-esque wardrobe you step through to get to the story room and a huge, red velvet–upholstered armchair used for the frequent story times. Events have included teddy bear workshops and doll tea parties.214 N. Main, Bryan.
Events: yes
Food & drink: no
Alcohol: no

Clifton

Tolstoy & Co. Bookshop

With a population of only about 3,500, Clifton is still the metropolis of Bosque County, and it got its own indie bookstore–coffee shop in late 2021 when Tolstoy opened. It’s a tidy, modern space, with a small collection but a good range of authors, subjects, and genres—children’s books and Texana are popular, as are the Melissa & Doug toys for the youngest set. You’ll also find monthly book club meetings, weekly tai chi sessions, and the occasional community event. Tolstoy has good hangout appeal—check out the roomy Chesterfield sofa and the hot and cold coffee drinks.113 N. Avenue D, Clifton.
Events: yes
Food & drink: no
Alcohol: no

Dallas

The Big Map of Texas Indie Bookstores (4)

Deep Vellum Bookstore

This little nonprofit shop, one of Dallas’s cultural treasures, is unlike anything else in Texas. It’s the bookstore arm of Will Evans’s Deep Vellum publishing, an indie house that just ten years after its founding is the largest U.S. publisher of literature in translation. On the shelves and tables here, you’ll find a well-chosen selection of fiction and nonfiction from other publishers (this is where we headed to scope out titles by 2022 Nobelist Annie Ernaux), as well as Deep Vellum’s own titles. The publisher—the name is a play on the surrounding historic neighborhood’s name, Deep Ellum—has brought attention and an American readership to such authors as Mathilde Walter Clark (Denmark) and her partly Texas-set novel, Lone Star, and it now publishes originals in English too, with a focus on Dallas writers and topics.3000 Commerce, Dallas.
Events: yes
Food & drink: yes
Alcohol: no

Interabang Books

Founded in 2017 by a group including Nancy Perot, daughter of H. Ross Perot Sr., and Lori Feathers, a member of the National Book Critics Circle, this store—named after an obscure punctuation mark—is Dallas’s best-stocked indie. The shop’s original Preston Road site was destroyed by the 2019 tornado, and the current Inwood Village space is smaller, but the selection is top-notch, and there’s a lively schedule of author appearances and children’s events, plus two podcasts and a book club. The roster of knowledgeable booksellers (Lori for literary fiction, Tyler for poetry, Kyle for pop culture, and so on—we regulars know them all) has stayed the course, and all are wonderful for book talk.5600 W. Lovers Lane, Suite 142, Dallas.
Events: yes
Food & drinks: no
Alcohol: no

Pan-African Connection

The full name is Pan-African Connection Bookstore, Art Gallery, and Resource Center, and it’s an important cultural center in Dallas, launched in 1989 by the late Bandele Tyehimba. Today his wife, Akwete Tyehimba, presides over a shop filled with titles for adults and children on all aspects of the Black experience, along with a wide range of items from many African cultures: paintings, clothing, gorgeous textiles, jewelry, a huge number of drums, and more. On any given day at this joyful place, you might find an open mic night, a block party, or a book signing. You’ll certainly find an all-abilities-welcome drum circle every Sunday afternoon. 4466 S. Marsalis Avenue, Dallas.
Events: yes
Food & drink: no
Alcohol: no

Whose Books

Oak Cliff resident and former high school principal Claudia Vega opened Whose Books in late 2021 as what she called a “social-impact startup,” with a mission to serve her neighborhood’s needs. The shop began in an incubator space next to a DART rail station but this year moved into a permanent storefront on Davis, in the Bishop Arts District. Two years in, the shop’s stock reflects what customers want to buy. That means a good selection of new fiction, plus more Stoic and existentialist authors than you’d expect and children’s books chosen with maximum inclusivity in mind. This is a welcoming and rewarding stop for families, with a small lounge area off to one side inviting readers to stay awhile. 512 W. Davis, Dallas.
Events: yes
Food & drink: no
Alcohol: no

The Wild Detectives

This is as much bar and gathering spot as bookstore, in a vintage bungalow on a largely residential block just off the main crossroads of Oak Cliff’s Bishop Arts District. The book selection is small and high literary, with fiction, poetry, and kids’ titles, mainly, and something of an international bent—the owners are Spanish expats. The Wild Detectives is a genuine Dallas cultural center, with events that have included literary festivals, readings, and music performances with a global flair—a recent party featured Afrobeat artist Baba Kuboye and Dallas band Papi Chulo, which calls its sound cumbia artesanal. It’s a well-loved neighborhood hangout offering tables indoors and out for enjoying a house-made empanada and a cappuccino or Spanish gin and tonic with your paperback. Go for “book happy hour,” 3–6 p.m. weekdays, for a free drink when you buy a book.314 W. Eighth, Dallas.
Events: yes
Food & drink: yes
Alcohol: yes

Denton

Patchouli Joe’s Books & Indulgences

Diane and Joe Mayes moved this personality-filled store from Leander to Denton in 2021. It’s a few steps off the courthouse square and carries only new titles, in deference to the venerated used-book palace Recycled anchoring the square’s opposite corner. The Patchouli Joe’s name tells you a bit about the slightly tie-dyed spirit of the place: there’s a line of house soaps that, yes, includes patchouli; a sandwich board outside that recently advertised tarot readings; and socially conscious titles in most book sections. Serious readers of literary fiction, YA and children’s, and mainstream nonfiction will be happy here. 221 W. Hickory, Denton.
Events: yes
Food & drink: yes
Alcohol: no

Dripping Springs

The Big Map of Texas Indie Bookstores (5)

The Big Map of Texas Indie Bookstores (6)

Sunday Bookshop

Sunday Bookshop, which opened in June 2023, can be hard to spot if you’re not in the know. It’s on a secondary highway, a few blocks from the heart of Dripping Springs’ old downtown, in a house built more than a century ago on Austin’s Rainey Street and moved here some years back; the only sign outside is subtle. Inside, owner Dixie Frechette, who formerly ran a clothing boutique called Fresh Native in the house, brings her eye for design to the cute interior and offers a small selection of mostly current fiction (“book club reads,” she says), along with gift and decor items and stationery. Hit the ample front porch for some reading time when the temperatures are hospitable. 28101 Ranch Road 12, Dripping Springs.
Events: yes
Food & drink: no
Alcohol: no

Fort Worth

The Dock Bookshop

This Black-owned Fort Worth institution has been open for fifteen years on the city’s east side. You’ll find fiction, poetry, nonfiction, and children’s books, mostly by Black authors and/or with Black themes (the section devoted to Black cowboys and Western heritage won a Book Display award from the Western Writers of America), as well as gift items, aromatherapy products, and some clothing. It’s a family-run business, and sisters Donya and Donna Craddock provide a steady stream of community events in their ample space, such as a virtual conversation with Juneteenth activist Opal Lee, sorority gatherings, and Black History Month programs.6637 Meadowbrook Drive, Fort Worth.
Events: yes
Food & drink: no
Alcohol: no

Monkey and Dog Books

Monkey and Dog began, improbably, as a corner book nook inside a local catering company’s storefront. The food shop’s takeout customers fell for the little haven stuffed with children’s books. So in 2018 owner Shelley Lowe moved the shop to its own space and added a wall of titles for adults too. Today the grown-ups’ section is a bit larger, and Monkey and Dog hosts reading groups for adults—separate ones for fiction, nonfiction, and, intriguingly, “forgotten fiction”—as well as for YA readers and even younger age ranges. Flop on the central couch for some family reading time or a visit with the shop dog, Sophie.3608 W. Seventh, Fort Worth.
Events: yes
Food & drink: no
Alcohol: no

Georgetown

Lark & Owl Booksellers

Georgetown’s well-loved downtown became even more inviting when Lark & Owl opened in 2019, about one block from the courthouse and walkable from all the action. It’s a full-service, general-interest shop founded by a collective of ten women; three women run it today, and it has achieved its goal of becoming a welcoming and inclusive community hub. There’s a broad selection of new titles for adults and children and a full calendar of events, including half a dozen book clubs. The busy Alouette Bistro, just beyond the book stacks, offers coffee drinks and pastries; breakfast and lunch fare; share plates; and beer, wine, and literary-themed co*cktails (try the Heathcliff Bramble), ideal for gatherings with friends. 205 Sixth, Suite 101, Georgetown.
Events: yes
Food & drink: yes
Alcohol: yes

Granbury

Arts & Letters Bookstore

Opened in 2019 by local resident Roxanne Laney, this shop is well positioned right on Granbury’s town square, adding a welcome new dimension to these blocks filled with clothing and housewares boutiques, eateries, a lively theater venue, and an atmospheric little hotel. Arts & Letters hosts author events and book clubs, and its shelves have something for everyone: literary and genre fiction, history, cookbooks, and more. The design is charming: under the old coffered ceiling in this vintage storefront, the children’s section makes use of a former shop’s dressing-room bays for sweet reading nooks, and a staircase is painted to look like a giant stack of literary favorites. 113 E. Bridge, Granbury.
Events: yes
Food & drink: no
Alcohol: no

Grapevine

Talking Animals Books

The crowds strolling Grapevine’s historic Main Street have a new destination—a new independent bookstore. Valerie Walizadeh and her business partner, local writer Katy Lemieux (an occasional Texas Monthly contributor), opened this great shop in February 2023. Its entrance is on a side street, behind Main Street’s Bermuda Gold & Silver, in a 123-year-old building that once housed a bank that was robbed by Bonnie and Clyde. The shop’s name was inspired by the magical creatures of Narnia, and children (and teachers) will find plenty of books to delight here, but this is a full-range bookstore with gift items, literary and popular fiction for adults, nonfiction, and a few special niches including performing arts books, a particular interest of Lemieux’s. 103 W. Worth, Grapevine.
Events: yes
Food & drink: no
Alcohol: no

Houston

The Big Map of Texas Indie Bookstores (7)

The Big Map of Texas Indie Bookstores (8)

Blue Willow Bookshop

It advertises itself as the best store in West Houston, and we agree. This long-running strip-mall shop (open since 1996) is a satisfying general-interest store, with well-stocked shelves for readers of all ages and fans of any genre. The knowledgeable, friendly staff will greet you like family, and regulars know to look for the little shop dog, Jacky Dawson. Check out the lively events calendar—Brazos Bookstore and Houston’s Inprint event series may get the bigger names, but you can meet a lot of authors here. Blue Willow is dedicated to bringing writers and their readers together and to fighting for booksellers’ freedoms—it is one of two Texas stores that have joined a lawsuit challenging a Texas measure that places onerous obligations on small shops like Blue Willow that sell books to schools. 14532 Memorial Drive, Houston.
Events: yes
Food & drink: no
Alcohol: no

Brazos Bookstore

The late Karl Kilian founded this store in 1974, just a block or so down Bissonnet Street from its current location, and since then it has been an engine of cultural life in Houston. It has a thoughtfully curated—that word doesn’t seem hyperbolic here—selection that’s strong in fiction, poetry, criticism, art, children’s lit, and more. There’s a busy schedule of story times; book clubs for adults, teens, and younger readers; and author appearances. In addition, Brazos has had a decades-long partnership with Houston literary organization Inprint, which runs one of the state’s premier reading series (it boasts of having hosted twelve Nobel and seventy Pulitzer Prize winners over the years).2421 Bissonnet, Houston.
Events: yes
Food & drink: no
Alcohol: no

Kindred Stories

This magical place started as a series of pop-ups by owner Terri Hamm, who wanted to give Houston what she and her young daughter Elle felt the city lacked: a place for Black readers to find books that resonated with them. In 2021 she opened this semipermanent shop in Project Row Houses, in Third Ward. Inside a warm and welcoming house, Kindred Stories is nurturing a community. The shelves and tables are lined with fiction and nonfiction centered on Black experiences, and there’s a well-stocked children’s section along with gifts by Black artisans. Creative events have included Story Book Opera for kids, with a singer from the Houston Grand Opera, and the Buzzed Spelling Bee for adults, both held outside in the Kindred Spirits Reading Garden.2304 Stuart, Houston.
Events: yes
Food & drink: no
Alcohol: no

Murder by the Book

This store (tagline: “These Stories Are Killer”) has been trading in its specialty—mysteries and thrillers, new, used, and rare—since 1980, across the street from Brazos Bookstore. Now under its second owner, McKenna Jordan, it remains a haven for readers who love those rich literary traditions, with thousands of titles in store and author events that over the years have included just about everyone you’d hope to see (P. D. James! Dick Francis!), including, of course, Houston’s Justin Cronin. If you don’t live in Houston (or if you do), try a Murder by The Box subscription box, with three options appealing to different reading tastes.2342 Bissonnet, Houston.
Events: yes
Food & drink: no
Alcohol: no

Keller

A House With Books

This tiny shop, which opened in February 2023 in the Keller Town Center area, has a different kind of origin story: it grew out of the owner’s blog of the same name. The shelves hold mainly fiction, nonfiction, and children’s books, but owner Hayley Smith, whose blog is largely about style and design, offers a few home decor items and, soon, design workshops at the store. Another unique feature: she’s carved out part of her suite for this Fort Worth suburb’s first coworking space. Smith loves tea as well as books, so you can sip a complimentary cup while settling in with your laptop in one of the adjoining rooms.1101 Bear Creek Parkway, Suite 3123, Keller.
Events: yes
Food & drink: no
Alcohol: no

Longview

Books and Barrels

Longview residents Laura and Chad Nevils, and Laura’s mom, Joanna Burrows, thought their town needed an indie bookstore, so they opened this downtown shop in summer 2020. They sell new fiction, nonfiction, and kids’ titles and host weekly events that include poetry, open mic, and arts-and-crafts nights. But the most distinctive feature is that it’s also a wine bar that advocates drinking local. Try a glass from East Texas winemakers Enoch’s Stomp, Los Pinos Ranch, and Rowdy Creek Ranch, or a beer from Longview’s Oil Horse or Fort Worth’s Martin House. 206 N. Center, Longview.
Events: yes
Food & drink: no
Alcohol: yes

Pflugerville

The Book Burrow

This queer-woman-owned shop has had quite an odyssey. Kelsey Black started it as a series of pop-ups before settling in inside the Three Legged Goat wine and craft beer bar. Now, thanks to strong community response to a fundraising appeal, the Book Burrow has a permanent shop, on Pecan Street, that opened in August 2023. Pflugerville’s only bookstore, the Book Burrow aims to be a safe space for all, encouraging readers to “embrace your weird.” It carries a full range of titles for adults, young adults, and children, and so far has hosted Dungeons & Dragons gaming sessions and a sci-fi/fantasy book club. The shop cat, Hunter, is a darling, and there are houseplants (store plants?) named Elladan and Elrohir—those who get the references will especially love it here.401 W. Pecan, Pflugerville.
Events: yes
Food & drink: no
Alcohol: no

Rockdale

Main Street Bookshop

New releases are the emphasis at this small shop along U.S. 79, though the owners are building a collection of gently used books too. Husband and wife Richard and Meggins Scheel opened the attractive space in late May 2023 as the only independent bookstore in Milam County, and the local paper (remember those?) proclaimed it an instant success. Settle in on the sofa with a coffee and something new to read; even better, come back often after the Scheels complete a planned backyard deck with outside seating.202 W. Cameron Avenue, Rockdale.
Events: yes
Food & drink: yes
Alcohol: no

Rockwall

Fable & Fire: A Bookshop Bistro

This place that opened in December 2022 in Rockwall’s delightfully walkable downtown feels more like a book-themed restaurant than a true bookstore. The book stock is small (the towering upper shelves seem just for show), and the new releases don’t seem to be replenished very regularly. But there are good books to browse in a handful of cases in the lobby of the restaurant, with sections for adults, YA, and kids (plenty of Harry Potter!), and nice literary touches throughout, such as the old tomes stacked behind the bar, the literary-themed co*cktails (the Black Beauty, the Catcher and the Chai), and especially the sliding bathroom doors with trompe l’oeil bookshelves. 104 S. San Jacinto, Rockwall.
Events: yes
Food & drink: yes
Alcohol: yes

San Angelo

Old Town Books

Retired Angelo State University English professor Mary Ellen Hartje opened this downtown store in late 2019. It joins the city’s amazing Cactus Book Shop, which specializes in used and rare Texana, Western, and Americana books, especially the novels of Elmer Kelton. Old Town distinguishes itself as a general-interest store, with new releases in a range of genres shelved in a gorgeous space with a dark, coffered ceiling; Saltillo tile floors; and warm woods. Grab something from the coffee station and sink into a chair near the big brick fireplace to flip through your selections 506 S Chadbourne, San Angelo.
Events: yes
Food & drink: no
Alcohol: no

San Antonio

Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center Latino Bookstore

Locals considered San Antonio’s West Side a bookstore desert before this shop opened in 2021, in a rehabbed old Progreso pharmacy that had stood vacant. The mission of this nonprofit’s bookstore arm is to feature books by authors representing the full range of Latino cultures, though with a special focus on Texas writers, including the self-published. There are titles in English and in Spanish for adults and children, and some bilingual books for kids too. The monthly Texas Author Series brings in two writers for each event, or you can attend a quarterly open mic night to sample less-established writers—or to read your own work. 1300 Guadalupe, San Antonio.
Events: yes
Food & drink: no
Alcohol: no

Nowhere Bookshop

Best-selling author and blogger (sorry, we mean Bloggess) Jenny Lawson debuted this shop during the pandemic; its opening was scheduled for the ill-fated month of March 2020, so Nowhere operated through online and curbside sales only until 2021. Now that the store is in full swing, Alamo Heights has a classic full-service indie bookstore in the heart of Broadway, the neighborhood’s main avenue. Bloggess fans can browse Lawson’s titles and her personal book recommendations, but the stock here is broad, with literary and genre fiction, thoughtful nonfiction sections (essays, women’s studies, and LGBTQ are strengths), and a good children’s section. A little cafe at the back offers coffee drinks, tea, beer, and wines, including “Book Club Wines” (club members get 20 percent off)—order the Happy Endings (Frida Kahlo Red Blend, from Chile).5154 Broadway, San Antonio.

Events: yes
Food & drink: yes
Alcohol: yes

The Twig Book Shop

A San Antonio institution, the Twig got its start in 1972 and lives on in this spirited shop in the Pearl complex, the repurposed 1883 brewery that’s home to locally owned restaurants, a food hall, indie shops, the Hotel Emma, and the Texas campus of the Culinary Institute of America. The Twig offers a full range of general-interest new titles for adults and children, and it’s especially strong in Texana subjects and Texas authors, which it supports tirelessly (see the events calendar). Note the closing time of 6 p.m.; we like to spend time here before an earlyish dinner at the Pearl—don’t wait till after dessert! 306 Pearl Parkway, Unit 106, San Antonio.
Events: yes
Food & drink: no
Alcohol: no

Seguin

Pecantown Books and Brews

This community-minded indie opened in the summer of 2022 in the walkable old downtown area. It’s a cozy hangout in a small yellow house with an ample front porch, a white picket fence enclosing a shady side yard, and some outdoor tables and chairs. Those are ideal for lounging with your coffee drink; craft beer, wine, or literary-themed mocktail; and/or salad, sandwich, or small plate from Pecantown’s adorable cafe. Indoors, the tiny cafe invites lingering at bistro tables surrounded by a hip floral wallpaper. In the adjoining rooms, you’ll find new titles for adults and children. Events include Thursday “College Night” and storytelling presentations such as “Murder and Mimosas” and “Wine and True Crime.” 212 S. Camp, Seguin.
Events: yes
Food & drink: yes
Alcohol: yes

Selma

Ghoulish Books

A few years ago, future husband and wife Max Booth III and Lori Michelle started a small press devoted to horror fiction, their joint obsession. In April 2023 they fulfilled a long-held dream by opening a shop devoted to the genre, in the suburban San Antonio location that formerly housed Cibolo Chicks Bookstore. In the sunny, and not at all ghoulish, strip mall space, you’ll find a range of new titles for adults, spooky reads for kids, horror comics, ephemera, and more. Of course, you can browse titles from the couple’s own imprint, too (She Was Found in a Guitar Case; Maggots Screaming!), and get juicy recommendations from true fans. 9330 Corporate Drive, Suite 702, Selma.
Events: yes
Food & drink: no
Alcohol: no

Waco

The Big Map of Texas Indie Bookstores (9)

Fabled Bookshop & Cafe

It was a great day for Waco when Fabled opened in 2019, inside a high-ceilinged old building (the one with the Wacotown mural) in the general vicinity of the Baylor campus, the Silos, and the spiffed-up riverfront. It’s satisfying as a bookshop—strong in fiction, children’s books, and more, with generous seating amid the stacks. It’s also instantly become a true hangout, especially for the Baylor community, with a busy cafe that serves beer and wine, coffee drinks (the Hunny Pot Latte, the Muggle Mocha), and light fare. The frequent events have included a “Poe & Pints” pint night, a Galentine’s celebration, and literary trivia nights. There’s an adult book club and another that invites YA readers to join “the Order of the Owl.”215 S. Fourth, Waco.
Events: yes
Food & drink: yes
Alcohol: yes

Waxahachie

Paper Leaves

In a beautiful 1881 house a handful of blocks from Waxahachie’s courthouse square, Gabrielle Calvery opened Paper Leaves as yet another pandemic-era bookstore start-up. As the name indicates, this shop sells books and plants, with live greenery arrayed on the front porch, scattered among the books, and (mostly) sunning in the many-windowed rooms upstairs. The fiction room holds contemporary novels, romances (the biggest seller), horror, fantasy, and classics, and in the nonfiction-lined front parlor, a center table highlights books mentioned on Gilmore Girls. There’s a sweet room full of children’s books too. Book club gatherings draw twenty to thirty to the back-of-the-house lounge area, where a few locally produced snack items and drinks are available from a small fridge. This store beckons you to hang out here, on the backyard furniture or on vintage sofas and chairs scattered throughout the grand old house. 510 Water, Waxahachie.
Events: yes
Food & drink: no
Alcohol: no

Weslaco

The Storybook Garden

Owner Sarah Cuadra, an elementary school assistant principal, opened this children’s bookstore with a lovely name in 2001, on a downtown corner along what serves as Weslaco’s main street. It’s been a labor of love ever since, as Cuadra has weathered all the changes in bookselling and book buying over these twenty-plus years. Families can choose from two Saturday story times here and shop for toys and kids’ clothing too. 260 S. Texas Boulevard, Suite 106, Weslaco.
Events: yes
Food & drink: no
Alcohol: no

The Woodlands

Buy the Book

Owner Lynette Fletcher and her daughter, co-owner, and store manager Abby Fletcher opened this shop in early 2022 to give The Woodlands the kind of indie bookstore they wanted to see in their neighborhood. The younger Fletcher brings a dozen years’ experience in bookselling and a particular knowledge of children’s books. Many gift items are locally made, and the busy schedule of events has included painting and card-making classes and a book-to-screen book club. Buy the Book buys and sells used books too. 25162 Grogans Park Drive, The Woodlands.
Events: yes
Food & drink: no
Alcohol: no

Village Books

Freelance writer and editor Teresa Kenney opened this community-minded shop in 2021 toward the western edge of The Woodlands. She runs the store herself most days—often with her dog, Oso—and offers events including story times, occasional author readings, and silent book club sessions, in which groups sit together but read independently (never worry again about not having done the reading!). On Sundays, when the bookstore is closed, Kenney continues celebrating the written word by leading writing and editing workshops.9955 Woodlands Parkway, Suite F, The Woodlands.
Events: yes
Food & drink: no
Alcohol: no

Additional reporting by Ana Davila Chalita.

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