New Orleans' Coolest Bookstores

Bookstore | © Vitaisy/Pixabay
Ann Marshall-Thomas

Frequented by great American authors such as William Faulkner, Truman Capote, Tennessee Williams, and Frances Parkinson-Keyes, New Orleans has long served as an inspiration for both readers and writers alike. The city is often personified in literature, becoming a major character in works like A Confederacy of Dunces and A Streetcar Named Desire. We have compiled a list of the best bookstores in which to read, think, share ideas, and find that perfect page-turner in New Orleans.

Arcadian Books and Prints

Arcadian Books and Prints is known for its large collection of French language publications and its stacks of books which nearly reach the ceiling. In addition to French, Arcadian also has extensive offerings in a number of foreign languages including Spanish, German, Latin, and Russian. Despite the seemingly scattered array of books, the shopkeeper is extremely helpful and is able to find anything one may need. Upon walking in, guests will be sure to notice that wonderful ‘bookstore smell’.

Beckham’s Bookshop

Beckham’s Bookshop is located in the French Quarter and has been open since 1967. The two-story shop houses 50 to 60 thousand used books. In addition to their large number of topics, ranging from philosophy and law to theatre and humor, Beckham’s also carries new publications about Louisiana, New Orleans and the American South. The locally-themed books focus primarily on topics such as music, literature, cooking, history, and architecture. In addition to their extensive collection of literature, Beckham’s also offers used classical LPs and CDs.

Crescent City Books

Crescent City Books is a two-story bookshop that has been open in the French Quarter since 1992. The shop specialises in antique, out of print, and rare books from the past 400 years and maps, engravings and prints from the past 500 years. The shelves are covered with fun quotes about reading and the second floor features a sitting area. The staff are helpful and friendly but very respectful of quiet browsing.

Faulkner House Books

William Faulkner came to live in the New Orleans French Quarter in 1924, long before he wrote As I Lay Dying or The Sound and the Fury. He lived in a yellow four-story building on Pirate Alley next to St. Louis Cathedral in the French Quarter with the artist William Spratling. Today, this building is known as Faulkner House and the ground floor is home to Faulkner House Books. Faulkner House Books specializes in rare editions, fine literature and, of course, the works of William Faulkner.

Kitchen Witch

Kitchen Witch is an eclectic shop carrying out-of-print, rare and used cookbooks, specializing in Cajun and creole cuisine. In addition to cookbooks, the shop also sells a small collection of folk art and homemade creole seasoning blends. This is the perfect place to visit if you are interested in learning more about New Orleans cuisine or want to take a piece of it home with you. The owners are extremely helpful and visitors are often greeted by their friendly dog.

May Books

May Books

May Books is located in the Marigny neighborhood of New Orleans and is affiliated with the May Gallery and Residency, which houses and showcases contemporary artists and their work. The shop specializes in books about graphic and visual art, new media, music, photography and creative source material. May Books also showcases artists whose works have previously been exhibited at the gallery. The shop receives weekly deliveries of new material and prides itself on being a space in which book and art enthusiasts can exchange ideas.

Octavia Books

Octavia Books

Located on Octavia Street in Uptown New Orleans, Octavia Books is tucked away in a neighborhood just off of the bustling Magazine Street shopping area. The shop has a sleek, modern feel, making choosing a book efficient and easy. Octavia Books hosts frequent book-signings and talks, making it an ideal location to meet regional and national authors face to face. The staff are extremely helpful and extensive browsing is encouraged.

Blue Cypress Books

Located on Oak Street in Uptown New Orleans, Blue Cypress Books sells high-quality second hand books and features an extensive offering of children’s and young adult titles. The owners believe that books should be affordable for people from all walks of life and are committed to keeping their prices reasonable, offering special deals for loyal customers. Guests also enjoy attention from the resident bookshop cat. There are some nearby coffee shops and cafés on Oak Street that provide great locations for enjoying a new book purchase.

Garden District Book Shop

Garden District Book Shop carries new and used books, both fiction and nonfiction, specializing in children’s literature and titles on gardening, art, and design. The shop also carries books by a variety of regional authors. Garden District Book Shop is housed in The Rink, a structure erected in 1884 which was once the Crescent City [Roller] Skating Rink, but has also served as a stable, gas station, grocery store, and mortuary through the years.
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