You can download your books from Amazon, you can get your books from Barnes & Noble, or you can walk downtown to a local independent bookseller and find yourself surrounded by excellent people loving the same books as you.read

Bookstores aren’t just rows of shelves, they’re third spaces – those places outside of home and work where we congregate, socialize, hangout. These characteristics are found in all the great bookstores, and can be found here in NJ, too.

1)    Short Stories Bookshop (Madison, NJ) – Short Stories bills itself as an ‘arts hub’ and ‘community space’, and lives up to its own hype. They not only maintain a room guests can reserve to host their own functions, but Short Stories also hosts storytimes, open mic nights, book clubs, live music, author events… each and every week. Also check out their art gallery!

2)    Word Bookstores (Jersey City, NJ) – We can ignore for the moment that Word Bookstores also has a location in Brooklyn (Cue boos; cheers for NJ) and only focus on their Jersey City location. There are fan clubs, readings, signings; 8 different book groups including one that’s Gilmore Girls-themed and my personal favorite, Garbage Water Thursdays. And don’t forget there’s A Cafe With A Happy Hour!

3)    Watchung Booksellers (Montclair, NJ) – Watchung Booksellers has several different book groups and keeps a full schedule of readings – including storytimes. They’re also highly active in their community, partnering with local schools and the Montclair Public Library. They also help support the Halfway There Montclair reading series.