We love a good trip to Books-A-Million, Barnes & Noble, and 2nd and Charles just as much as the next person, but there’s something to be said about the magic that is a local Birmingham bookstore. Inside these four walls we find fellow book lovers who also happen to love our city as much as we do. And, with the reopening late last month of Alabama Booksmith after its doors being closed to the public since the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020, we feel especially excited about celebrating our hometown bookstores. Read on to see our favorites.
A trip to Thank You Books in Crestwood Village isn’t just your average trip to the bookstore – it is an experience. Owned by three Birmingham women, there is a sense of community at Thank You Books unlike any other shop we’ve found. It’s as if, when talking book recommendations with their staff, you’re talking to a friend that knows you and understands you – simply put, they just get it. We love sinking into that corner nook (when you visit, you’ll see what we’re talking about), and Thank You Books is such a community, it even sells its own merchandise.
An iconic Birmingham bookstore if there ever was one, owner Jake Reiss and his team at Alabama Booksmith set themselves apart as possibly the only bookstore where the entire inventory is signed copies. When this legendary Homewood bookstore reopened in late July after 16 months away, we were thrilled to be able to step inside the magic again. And, much to our delight, they are offering in-person author events again, which we missed so much this past year.
Also in Homewood, tucked into its newish location in the heart of 18th Street South, you’ll find Little Professor – another of our favorites. Little Professor sets itself apart as Birmingham’s oldest independent bookstore and will celebrate its fiftieth anniversary next year in 2022. In January 2020, original owners Paul and Diane Seitz sold the shop to new owners Jonathan and Meredith Robinson and retired. Under the leadership of the Robinsons, the store rebranded, launched a membership program, and brought into the mix weekly book readings and birthday party packages.
Speaking of bookstores that are experiences, Reed Books on Third Avenue North – also dubbed “The Museum of Fond Memories” – is a must-visit if you have not yet had the pleasure. But be prepared, there is a lot to take in, including books and magazines that you never thought you’d see again, to gadgets and gizmos that are relics of a bygone era. Each visit to Reed Books is a trip through history, and you’re almost guaranteed to walk out with a piece of the past in your hands, and a friendly chat with Jim Reed, the owner of this truly remarkable store.
Sure, we really do love the book selection at Mountain Brook’s Church Street Coffee and Books, but we also love the atmosphere. At Church Street, you can grab hold of a good book and a good cup of coffee, specifically Octane Coffee, roasted locally in nearby Homewood. And, seriously, run and don’t walk to Church Street for their famous breakup cookie, which, other than a good book, is our favorite item to buy from this fantastic shop.