Books sit on shelves against a wall bext to a hanging cowboy hat and photo of author Elmer Kelton

The presence of author Elmer Kelton can be found all over Cactus Book Shop in San Angelo. Photo by Megan Cline

As a lifelong reader, I find there is little more that I love than a good bookstore. I’m so enamored with the smell of the pages, warm lights, and opportunities for literary adventures that I started chronicling my visits to bookshops as I travel around the state.

Texas is home to over 60 independent bookstores, and my goal is to visit all of them. If you, like me, are a lover of locally owned shops that are a little more off the beaten path, this is a list for you. From an inclusivity-minded hidden gem in Austin to a Texana paradise located in a former historic theater in West Texas, each of these bookstores provide you with a refreshing road trip stop to find your next read.

Cactus Book Shop
San Angelo

Address: 4 E. Concho Ave.
Phone: 325-659-3788
Hours: Mon-Sat 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Cactus Books has become the hub of all things Elmer Kelton, the award-winning Western writer who called San Angelo home from 1926 to 2009. Apart from the newspaper articles about Kelton and his career adorning each shelf and a display featuring one of his many hats, Cactus Books is filled with used and new copies of books about Texas history, geology, Indigenous studies, and regional histories, as well as a massive collection of the Hank the Cowdog series by John Erickson. This bookstore is a must-visit for any lover of Texas literature.

 

Intermission Bookshop
Brownwood

Address: 203 Center Ave.
Phone: 325-203-5239
Hours: Tues-Sat 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Inhabiting Brownwood’s former Queen Theatre, which was once used as a respite for soldiers stationed at Camp Bowie when hotels were occupied during World War II, Intermission opened in 2020 as a well-curated bookstore selling both new and used titles. With décor that includes a tunnel made entirely of books, a beautiful mural featuring bookshelves on the historic façade, and a giant wooden bookshelf with a rolling ladder, the shop is as visually stunning as its storied past is rich. Whether you’re a history buff or bookworm, add this shop to your itinerary when you journey to West Texas.

 

Interior of a bookstore filled with shelves

Reverie Books in south Austin. Photo by Megan Cline

Reverie Books
Austin

Address: 5330 Menchaca Road, Suite D
Phone: 512-368-4455
Hours: Mon-Fri 11 a.m.-7 p.m.; Sat-Sun 10 a.m.-7 p.m.

Reverie lives up to its name: Its dreamy shelves are reminiscent of the magical Diagon Alley from Harry Potter. Stocked with inclusive titles throughout the store, the owners have been vigilant in making sure it welcomes all readers since it opened in 2021. “Reverie Books is a community-supported indie bookstore, and shelves are sponsored by people who have donated to sponsor for one year. It’s fun! It makes a good gift! And it helps keep us going,” reads a sign fixed on the shelves.

 

Monkey and Dog Books
Fort Worth

Address: 3608 W. Seventh St.
Phone: 817-489-5747
Hours: Mon-Sat 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Tucked away in downtown Fort Worth, Monkey and Dog is the epitome of the phrase “good things come in small packages.” Wrapped in the embrace of 1980s Texan strip mall architecture, this shop is full of whimsy with a penchant for beautiful and unique literary editions like the MinaLima classics, created by the artists responsible for the graphic designs of the Harry Potter movies. The care and attention put into the shop by owner Shelley Lowe and her team of booksellers shows throughout the shop, with dark wood shelves and a repurposed kitchen space with cookbooks and foodie memoirs. Hosting events and book signings, Monkey and Dog has become a large part of the Fort Worth literary community, making it a great stop on any reader’s visit to Dallas-Fort Worth.

 

Arts and Letters Bookstore
Granbury

Address: 113 E. Bridge St.
Phone: 682-936-2824
Hours: Sun-Thu 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; Fri-Sat 10 a.m.- p.m.

Arts and Letters resides in one of the numerous historic buildings in downtown Granbury that feature beautiful hardwood floors and ceiling ornamentation from the early 20th century. But in contrast to its antique structure, the shop offers all manner of contemporary fiction and nonfiction titles, which are highlighted by the well-curated book displays. The intention of creating a literary community is apparent through multiple monthly events including a book club and literary-themed parties and book releases. Breathing life into the downtown square through a community-minded focus, this shop is an essential stop if you’re in the North Texas region.

The March 2024 cover of Texas Highways Magazine

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