Book it to These Independent Icons for Classics, New Releases, and More
By Brandon K. Curtis
Looking for a new best-seller or an out-of-print edition? Simply longing to wander the stacks? Check out these celebrated independent bookstores that have captured Houstonians’ minds and imaginations for decades.
7405 Westview Dr, Houston, TX 77055
A fixture of Houston’s Spring Branch neighborhood since 1993, Becker’s Books offers both casual and serious bibliophiles a unique selection of rare books and friendly customer service. Initially started by Dan Becker to house his personal book collection, the store has since grown to include two additional warehouses and an online searchable database featuring inventories from other area bookstores.
Inside the store, there are dozens of corridors, places to sit and examine books, and even refreshments such as coffee and cookies. Though the store is “light” on recently-published books, its inventory is one of Houston’s largest with just under one million titles. Sections include Americana, Business and Finance, Car Repair, Folklore and Mythology, New Age, and Yearbooks.
Blue Willow Bookshop
14532 Memorial Dr, Houston, TX 77079
Located in Houston’s West Memorial area, Blue Willow Bookshop welcomes customers to peruse its selection of books, stationery, puzzles, games, and more. The shop sponsors several book clubs and even allows neighborhood clubs to register with it for discounts on select purchases. Additionally, Blue Willow offers a consignment program for local writers to share their works with fellow book-lovers.
On Friday evenings, the shop hosts Bibliotherapy, a weekly event where guests can explore the stacks with a glass of wine in hand. Blue Willow also participates in Indies First Saturday, an annual take on “Small Business Saturday” that seeks to highlight the importance of independent bookstores around the country.
2421 Bissonnet St, Houston, TX 77005
A Houston literary institution since 1974, Brazos Bookstore focuses on providing top-tier customer service and maintaining close ties to its community. The store’s vast collection of contemporary and classic literature (as well as art, non-fiction, and children’s books) has drawn everyday readers as well as literary heavyweights like Edward Albee, Donald Barthelme, and Larry McMurtry.
Besides offering an impressive range of books and gifts, Brazos Bookstore also maintains partnerships with the University of Houston Creative Writing Program, the Academy of American Poets, and Rice University’s Baker Institute. To expand the horizons of its customers, the store offers opportunities to connect with established writers through book signings and other literary events.
6736, 3116 Houston Ave, Houston, TX 77009
Situated in Houston’s Woodland Heights, Kaboom Books specializes in used books that include current and out-of-print titles. With over 100,000 items in stock, the store maintains over 70 unique sections, such as Fiction, Art, History, and Social & Physical Sciences.
According to its website, the store’s purpose is to offer an “inventory of ideas” and promote conversation between Houston’s multifarious neighborhoods. Kaboom’s customers praise its eclecticism and whimsical atmosphere, and also appreciate its public book discussions and reading events.
Murder by the Book
2342 Bissonnet St.
Houston, TX 77005
One of the nation’s oldest specialty bookstores, Murder by the Book carries a variety of books, gifts, and collectibles fit for any type of reader. Besides its stock of more than 25,000 items––which include paperbacks, hardbacks, first editions and magazines––the store also hosts dozens of book signing events annually. Notable past visitors include Dick Francis, Sue Grafton, James Lee Burke, and Patricia Cornwell.
Murder by the Book supports a themed monthly book club whose past topics include first novels, social conscience mysteries and suspense thrillers.