Held on the last Saturday in April, Independent Bookstore Day is a national party celebrating the unique role booksellers play in communities across the country. The organizers of the annual event have a great description of indie book stores on their website:
Independent bookstores are not just stores, they’re community centers and local anchors run by passionate readers. They are entire universes of ideas that contain the possibility of real serendipity. They are lively performance spaces and quiet places where aimless perusal is a day well spent.
In 2015, I saved the Independent Bookstore Day map by Moon Palace Books for walk route inspiration. Since then, I’ve studied the map several times in hopes that a route would emerge but I’d always get overwhelmed by the number of stores (a great problem to have!). This year, I finally made this walk a reality. Thanks to the passport program sponsored by the Midwest Independent Booksellers Association, I was able to focus on ten participating bookstores in Minneapolis to form a route I’d be able to complete in a day. St. Paul, I’m coming for you next year!
Link to Google Map of this 20 mile route. (Note that I took a detour between Paperback Exchange and Wild Rumpus. I recommend walking along the western shore of Lake Harriet between those two stops).
I truly value all that independent bookstores offer even outside of their operating hours. Many have engaging storefronts with fantastic window displays, murals, and notices of community events. I tried to capture what I love most about bookstores in my photo diary of my day. I also documented other things that may be of interest to streets.mn readers like construction sites!
Stop 1: Paperback Exchange
2227 W 50th St, Minneapolis | Website
Book purchased: Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values by Robert M. Pirsig
Paperback Exchange has been selling books in Southwest Minneapolis since 1975. I love that they often have books on display outside. Walking into the store, you’re immediately greeted with the wonderful smell of books. When you bring in your books, you can receive trade credit on new and used books. The next time you’re walking around Lake Harriet, I recommend taking a detour by walking or riding a couple blocks south on Penn Avenue to visit this bookstore. You can even make a date out of it and dine at one of the three Broders’ restaurants at this intersection or have coffee and a pastry next door at Sparrow Cafe.
Stop 2: Wild Rumpus
2720 W 43rd St, Minneapolis | Website
Book purchased: Dear Committee Members: A novel by Julie Schumacher
Located in Linden Hills, Wild Rumpus is an award winning children’s bookstore. In 2016, they won the Pannell Award for Children’s Specialty Bookstore from the Women’s National Book Association. This award “recognizes bookstores that enhance their communities by bringing exceptional creativity to foster a love of reading in their young patrons.” This is a well deserved award for a bookstore that makes many people’s lists of places to visit in the Twin Cities.
Inspired by The Salamander Room by Anne Mazer, Wild Rumpus is a joy to visit for people of all ages. While most of their inventory is geared toward children, they do carry titles for young adult and adult readers. They care for and display a wide variety of animals. Even if you don’t have a need for it, make sure to visit the restroom (look in the mirror with the lights off)!
Anytime I’m in the neighborhood, I check out Linden Hills’ famous (or infamous) development site, Linden43 apartments which has been years in the making:
A bittersweet discovery was that Honeyshine is shifting its focus from retail to interior design. I hope they continue to create fun window displays.
Near Magers & Quinn, at 3041 Holmes you’ll find luxury condos under construction.
Stop 3: Magers & Quinn
3038 Hennepin Ave, Minneapolis | Website
Books purchased: The Thing Around Your Neck by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and What is Not Yours is Not Yours by Helen Oyeyemi
Leading up to Independent Bookstore Day, I noticed that Magers & Quinn was promoting walking, biking and transit. I thanked them on twitter but I’d like to thank them again!
— Magers & Quinn (@magersandquinn) April 26, 2017
A side benefit to visiting Magers & Quinn is that Hennepin Avenue was closed to car traffic for Songkran Uptown, a block party hosted by Amazing Thailand. After walking around the area for a bit, we continued walking along Lake Street to our next destination.
Stop 4: Once Upon A Crime
604 W 26th St, Minneapolis | Website
Books purchased: Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger and The Likeness by Tana French
Once Upon A Crime is a nationally known bookstore and has been in the Whittier neighborhood since 1987. The shop is located in a beautiful brick apartment building and though it is in the basement it manages to engage passersby with its awning, signage and book event posters. Step inside and you’ll likely be greeted by one of the owners eager to help and welcome you to take your time while perusing thousands of titles.
Stop 5: Birchbark Books & Native Arts
2115 W 21st St, Minneapolis | Website
Book purchased: LaRose: A Novel by Louise Erdrich
The moment you step into Birchbark Books, you know you’ve entered a special place. Owned by award-winning author Louise Erdrich, who is an enrolled Turtle Mountain Chippewa, the bookstore is proud to support Native American staff, authors and artists. Within its walls you’ll find carefully curated book titles, handmade jewelry, a birch loft for kids, beautiful paintings and comfy chairs. Walking through the store, I was given a warm welcome by the people who keep this independent bookstore running. Handwritten notes posted by many of the books lining their shelves is another way they engage their customers. Read more about the story of Birchbark Books & Native Arts in this recent Twin Cities Daily Planet article.
We’re at the midpoint of our bookstore walking tour. Let’s stop to smell the flowers and pet a dog.
Stop 6: Milkweed Books
1011 S Washington Ave, Minneapolis | Website
Book purchased: Springtime: A Ghost Story by Michelle de Kretser
Milkweed Books is the most recent independent bookstore to open in Minneapolis. They join the Loft Literary Center, Minnesota Center for Book Arts, and a coffee shop in Open Book, the nation’s largest literary arts center.
After a pitstop at Town Hall Brewery, Scott and I parted ways so he could care for our dog, Stewie. He helped lighten my load by taking a stack of books with him.
I continued my journey by crossing the Mississippi River on the Washington Avenue Bridge to the East Bank campus of the University of Minnesota.
Stop 7: Daybreak Press Global Bookshop & Gathering Space
720 Washington Ave SE, Minneapolis | Website
Book purchased: Flying Lessons and Other Stories Edited by Ellen Oh
Stop 8: Boneshaker Books
2002 23rd Ave S, Minneapolis | Website
Book purchased: Powered by Girl: A Field Guide for Supporting Youth Activists by Lyn Mikel Brown
Boneshaker Books recently celebrated its sixth birthday as a community supported, collectively organized, and volunteer run bookstore. True to its name, local customers can opt to have their purchases delivered by bicycle!
When in the Seward neighborhood, you must stroll along Milwaukee Avenue for a car-free experience.
Stop 9: Moon Palace Books
3260 Minnehaha Ave, Minneapolis | Website
Books purchased: How to Walk by Thich Nhat Hanh and Flâneuse: Women Walk the City in Paris, New York, Tokyo, Venice and London by Lauren Elkin
By the time I arrived at Moon Palace, I was getting a bit weary. So, their colorful exterior was a welcome burst of energy. Inside, the first book to grab my attention was How to Walk by Thich Nhat Hanh. Since their original 2015 map was the source of inspiration for my bookstore walk, I decided it was the perfect place to purchase Flâneuse: Women Walk the City in Paris, New York, Tokyo, Venice and London by Lauren Elkin which has been on my wishlist.
Stop 10: DreamHaven Books & Comics
2301 E 38th St, Minneapolis | Website
Book purchased: Unable to make a purchase as I arrived after the store closed (I’ll return soon!)
According to my app, this 20 mile walk took 10 hours to complete. In addition to stopping at the bookstores, we also stopped at World Street Kitchen for lunch and Town Hall Brewery for a beer. Depending on your walking speed and stamina, I’d plan on this taking about 10-12 hours. The biggest challenge is making it to all of the bookstores during their business hours and allowing yourself enough time to enjoy shopping at each stop. I hope you consider walking or biking to independent bookstores next year on the last Saturday in April!