Despite pressure from Amazon and our growing reliance on the internet, these unique shops have prevailed and continue to spark our imaginations with new and rare titles.
From their genre-specific focus to their intimate store design, independent bookstores in Houston have a unique charm. And the booksellers who run them are dedicated to amplifying the storytelling of authors around the world. No matter how many times “print is dead” falls on their ears, they believe that somewhere, someone is holding a book that just transformed their life.
Revisit this New Year’s resolution and support your local independent bookstore.
3116 Houston Avenue #6736, (713) 869-7600
If you’re wandering near downtown, head to Woodland Heights for a reading break at Kaboom Books. The storefront is both charming and relaxing, with an entrance adorned with lush greenery and an interior overrun with towering shelves of second-hand books (over 100,000 in stock). Kaboom started in New Orleans and its Houston location has been around for 44 long years. Co-owner John Dillman recommends Ottessa Moshfeg’s 2015 debut fiction novel Eileen which tells the story of a young prison worker in Boston, MA. For more information on opening hours and events, visit here.
2421 Bissonnet Street, (713) 523-0701
There’s no conversation about bookstores in Houston without Brazos. It’s the largest in town, with an up-to-date selection of titles and a focus on independent and locally published texts. It was opened in the mid-1970s as a hub of the city’s literary scene. After Karl Kilian retired in 2006, 27 local bibliophiles came together to take over the shop from its founder. Brazos staff Laura Graveline and Joy Preble chose I who have never known men by Jacqueline Harpman and Chasm of Saint Sebastian by Haber Marc. Harpman’s book is a fascinating piece of feminist literature with a speculative edge (it’s also included in Brazos india summer book clubwhile the book by Mark (who works as a stage manager at Brazos) is a short black comedy about art and obsession. For more information on opening hours and events, visit here.
7405 Westview Drive, (713) 957-8088
Becker’s is the epitome of a neighborhood bookstore. It’s a family-friendly second-hand bookstore where you can (literally) get lost. The space is a 3,500 square foot house with islands and islands of used books at every turn. Although there are no more copies in the shop, owner Dan Becker recommends The physicist by Noah Gordon, a historical fiction that photographs the development of medicine in the Middle Ages through the life of a young European boy. For more information on opening hours and events, visit here.
2304 Stuart Street, (713) 396-2396
The newest and first of its kind, Kindred Stories is a black woman-owned bookstore in Houston’s Third Ward neighborhood. They opened their storefront last year and have had a huge impact on the local literary community. Community Engagement and Operations Manager Stevens Orozco Recommends Award-Winning Biography of Imani Perry In Search of Lorraine: The Radiant and Radical Life of Lorraine Hansberry, which chronicles the life and impact of the famous intellectual, activist and author of A raisin in the sun (1959) died aged 34. For more information on opening hours and events, visit here.
murder by the book
2342 Bissonnet St., (713) 524-8597
If you’re in the mood for a killer story (pun intended), Murder by the Book is your haven. It’s filled with, you guessed it, detective novels and magazines and is one of the oldest mystery-focused stores in the United States. McKenna Jordan, the owner, recommends Samantha Jayne Allen’s Pay Dirt Road, a PI thriller set in Texas. (If you hurry, you can buy a signed copy at the shop this weekend). For more information on opening hours and events, visit here.
Blue Willow Bookstore
14532 Memorial Drive, (281) 497-8675
Travel through West Houston and you’ll likely stumble upon Blue Willow, a quaint showcase on Dairy Ashford and Memorial. In 2020, the store was recognized as a finalist for Publisher’s Weekly Bookstore of the Year award. Founder and owner Valerie Koehler recommends Chemistry lessons by Bonnie Garmus as well as a French translation of her favorite indie Fresh water for the flowers by Valerie Perrin. For more information on opening hours and events, visit here.