For a book lover, there’s nothing like entering a bookstore or library and knowing you’re in a place where knowledge and imagination meet. If you want to move but aren’t sure where you’d like to live, consider a city that matches your love of books.
Here are seven great U.S. cities for book lovers to live. These are in no particular order, since there are many factors that affect what makes a city great for book lovers. Some may surprise you!
New York, NY
New York City is home to many major publishing houses like Random House, Simon & Schuster and HarperCollins. For traditionally published writers, that makes it a center for business.
Of course, that doesn’t necessarily affect bookworms, so here’s what you need to know. The city boasts a huge public library system—the second largest in the country—and many independent bookstores, like the famous Strand, which boasts 18 miles of books.
Of course, if you’re looking for somewhere to read, you can always have a seat in Central Park. If you’re looking for bookworm friends, you can join one of the local book clubs like Books That Make You Go Hmm…! or The Upper West Side Book Club.
Boston’s library system is the third largest in the U.S., but the Boston Public Library is the second largest in the country, just behind the Library of Congress. Sound encouraging? It also has many notable book clubs, like the Brookline Booksmith Book Club which meets at the local bookstore that gives the group its name.
Among Boston’s many popular independent bookstores, you’ll find Brattle Book Shop, filled with used and rare books.
If you want to spend your free time at a truly impressive bookstore, consider moving to Portland! There, you’ll find the five-story Powell’s City of Books with more than one million books for sale.
Portland loves its authors, and has its share of independent publishers. These include Craigmore Creations and Forest Avenue Press. If you’re looking for something strange and delightful, though decidedly for grown-ups, check out Eraserhead Press.
In addition to the booming literary scene, Portland is home to the Beverly Cleary Sculpture Garden, where you’ll find sculptures of characters from Cleary’s popular children’s novels. You can always read in a library, bookstore, or cafe, but you can also relax in the sculpture garden with a book.
Los Angeles, CA
Looking for a great art, acting, and literary scene in a large city where there’s always something to do? Look no further than Los Angeles. This major Southern California city has too many book clubs to count, and you’re sure to find the right one for you.
There are also dozens of independent bookstores, such as Skylight Books, an eclectic shop that sells art, film, local history, and music books, Vroman’s Bookstore, with books and lots of gift ideas, and if you’re into mystery and crime fiction, Book’em Mysteries.
It also has the wonderful LA Times Festival of Books, which is the largest book festival in the country. This is a wonderful event for publishers, writers, and readers where you can buy books directly from the authors, get them autographed, and ask questions all while enjoying food trucks and live musical entertainment.
Minneapolis & St. Paul, MN:
Listing these two cities together might seem like cheating, but they’re linked so closely they may as well be one. Move to either, and you’ve got a great literary scene right out your front door. In 2015, Minneapolis was ranked the most literate city in the U.S., beating out Washington D.C.
If you move there, check out Magers and Quinn Booksellers, which has a huge collection of new, used, rare, and collectible books, or head to Birchbark Books if you want tips on the best books to read. Want to have a beer while talking about books? Check out the Books & Bars book club.
This may be the least expected on the list. Sadly, Detroit has seen a huge decrease in population and lost of industry, and the crime rate is higher than in most places. However, there are some good reasons for book lovers to consider being part of helping Detroit grow again.
In fact, you can get paid to live in Detroit! If you’re not only a reader but a writer, you might consider entering the Write a House contest when available. This group fixes up old Detroit homes and gives them to winning writers in an effort to improve the city by building its literary scene.
John K. King Used & Rare Books is Detroit’s largest used bookstore and a great place to visit to find those treasures we book lovers want. Looking for other book stores? Don’t worry, Detroit has the third largest number of bookstores per capita in the U.S.
Detroit also has a large number of book clubs, so you’re sure to find one that matches your tastes. Here are a few worth mentioning: Fables and Reflections is great for sci-fi and fantasy lovers. Brews and Books Metro Detroit is all about relaxing with a beer at a brew pub and discussing the monthly read. If you love good food and reading the classics, check out Detroit Classics and Fine Food Book Club.
While this list isn’t exhaustive, we hope this helps you start your search for the ideal city for you to live and enjoy books, libraries, and meeting other bookworms.