Something about Nashville (namely, my boyfriend) has moved me toward the digital and audio read, so I decided to spend the afternoon exploring Nashville’s independent book stores. To me, a big bonus of living in a city is the likelihood of finding a good, independent bookstore, and Nashville is no exception. One of my favorite places in NYC is The Strand. It claims to house 18 miles of books in narrow aisles, piled upon displays, and stacked on the floor. Inevitably, to reach the title of my desire, I had to mount one of their 20 foot ladders and make my shaky ascent. Much like the rest of New York, in The Strand, you’re surrounded by people, yet completely alone in your world to feel the crushing weight of 18 miles of books that you simply must read before you die.
So, former New Yorkers, to find similar variety, visit McKay Used Books, CDs, Movies and More. Load up on classics for pennies. This is not hyperbole, my friends. Many titles go for 1 or 2 cents, a dime, a quarter. Really popular titles may get you up to $5.50. They have genres galore, too. And, they buy and trade, so after you move your 700 book library across the country, go ahead and sell those bad boys your first chance, like I did. Your back (and boyfriend) will thank you when you move again.
If St. Mark’s Books was more your thing–you’re looking for less traffic and a less daunting selection–go to Parnassus Books in Green Hills. Co-owned by Nashville author Ann Patchett, Parnassus offers new books, hosts events and readings, and runs a popular book club, switching titles each month. The management’s selection veers toward women writers and best sellers. (Milling around, I was never more aware of how gendered book covers are.) If you’re child-ridden (really? and from New York?) kids will find the children’s section cozy and intimate.
Brooklynites who favored Tea Lounge on Union Street for their java will feel at home in Rhino Booksellers near Lipscomb University. Crammed with used books–even in the restroom!–this store carries all the charms of the past including collectibles and rare books. Although the organization is wonky (I saw The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter in three different places), the staff is friendly and knowledgable. They’ll help you find what you need. Their Southern Literature section is a must-see, and they don’t mind if you make yourself comfortable in one of the armchairs to peruse your top choices and eavesdrop on the conversations of locals who hold court as if it’s a front porch in the summer time. Sweet tea, anyone?
If you’re like me, you spent countless afternoons drifting through Unnamable Books in the Village. Check out BookmanBookwoman in HIllsboro Village. They sell used and new books, their staff picks totally rock, and their collection spans two store fronts and winding back rooms. It’s a quiet place, and no one will be in your way. It’s mercifully free of children, the staff is unobtrusive but friendly, and for cryingoutloud, you get to explore alcoves of books! The last stop on my book hunting excursion, I picked up a new copy of The Girl with Curious Hair and headed home, just as it began to rain.