SLC Gems: Charming Bookshops to Wander!
Updated: Dec 2, 2022
Do you also find that strolling local bookshops ignites a particular joy? The unique smell of books, the endless titles that spark intrigue, the various genres that inspire your imagination to run wild... Not much compares! Lucky for us, Salt Lake City has a handful of noteworthy independent bookstores to spend hours getting lost in.
As a huge fan of all things quirky, Ken’s Rare Books stole my heart upon first entry. The full-service antiquarian bookshop was opened in 1997. You’ll find a vast inventory of used and rare books, a handful of new books, and an ever-changing selection of art, ephemera, maps, photographs, and postcards. Weave through piles of books as you browse the overflowing shelves (unable to miss the massive Mormon and Western Americana collections). After 24 years downtown, development pressure has officially pushed Ken’s Rare Books, luckily to a new home in The Leonardo - set to open in Fall of 2022. Check out the OG digs while there’s still time!
Founded in 1968 and located in Sugar House, the quaint and charming feel of walking into Central Book Exchange is such a delight. When I’ve finished a book or no longer care to have it grace my shelves, I take it into Central Book Exchange and earn points towards their used book selection, which is rich with classics and best sellers. They’re also great about calling me once a waitlisted book arrives - a call I’m always happy to answer! You can settle down with your book either a few doors north at the Sugarhouse Coffee shop or go across the street for a beer at the Fiddler’s Elbow.
As they say, matching books to readers since 1977. A very cute and surprisingly large bookshop in the up-and-coming 15th & 15th district, this gem is worth a wander. In fact, you’ll likely leave with a book you never knew you needed! I love how involved the staff is with recommending their favorites, no matter the genre (and this bookstore has a serious plethora of genres!). The frequent reader program offers up some discounts based on how many books you buy. And their swag is utterly adorable, too.
An indie, family-owned bookstore located in Millcreek, selling new, used and vintage books. Housed in a former Firestone Tires auto body shop, the converted space gives readers various rooms filled with various genres, including tons of nostalgic classics and antique gems. I felt like a kid in a candy store as I wandered each room, over stimulated by all there is to take in - classic art, sculptures, chandeliers, plus of course cozy nooks to dive into a reading wonderland. Marissa's has absolutely become a newfound favorite!
Located next door to their sister restaurant, Oasis Cafe, The Braid is the place to go if craving some tarot cards, soul searching inspiration, and thought provoking reading material. Since 1979, Golden Braid Books has been widely known as a resource for personal journey and self discovery. Great gifts and books for feeding the mind, body, and soul, as well as health care products and meditation tools. As they like to say, go and find "what you didn't know you were looking for."
The bookstore has a very rich history (click here to read!) that started when Gustav and Margaret Weller, Mormon converts, emigrated from Germany to Salt Lake City with their five children in 1925. It has evolved from a second hand furniture store, transitioning and moving locations many times, to now a prominent and historic business in bustling Trolley Square, where it's been since 2012. You can find just about anything among the tall and beautifully organized shelves, and if not, try the second floor!
Under the Umbrella Bookstore is your local queer bookstore! No other bookstore in the area specifically caters to the queer community, providing a safe space for queer folks of all ages to congregate and celebrate their stories. Under the Umbrella stocks books across all genres and for all ages, including current and classic fiction, nonfiction, poetry, graphic novels, and more. Every book in the store is either queer in content and/or written by queer authors. They also focus on books by small presses and self-published queer authors that you won’t find in general bookstores. You can also find fun gifts and other items, including candles, teas, stickers, pins, tote bags, bookmarks, mugs, and jewelry, all made by small queer-owned businesses and queer artists and makers.
Salt Lake's own independent science-fiction/fantasy bookstore and RPG cafe. An inclusive space for all identities and imaginations! Co-owners and sisters Stephanie and Raelle Blatter opened the store in August. They carry genre fiction with a focus on queer and BIPOC voices and run a mini coffee bar with baked goods, coffee and themed drinks. They host tabletop role-play gaming, book clubs, author events and more.