The 6 Best Bookstores in St. Louis (From a Local Book Lover)

best bookstores st. louis

Friends and enemies, I must admit something to you — I am a book buying fiend.

My favorite activity is browsing the shelves of a previously undiscovered bookstore, seconded closely by returning to that bookstore for the second time, now beloved and familiar.

As a writer, you can imagine that I am an avid reader. And, more honestly and more importantly, I am an avid book buyer. For my birthday, my mother just Venmo’d me with the subject “for books”. I received this notification while I was at the bookstore already with a stack of ten balanced haphazardly in my arms. I am as predictable as I am enthralled by a pretty cover.

Currently, my physical TBR is at 25 books. And yet… with your best interest in mind… because I am generous and loving… I will sacrifice my time and go visit all the bookstores in St. Louis to give you the very best options.

(Thank you so much for this excuse.)

My Map of the Best Used, Local, and Independent Bookstores in St. Louis

Best Second Hand Selection: Left Bank

There’s never been a genre of books I’ve needed and not found at Left Bank Books, an independent shop located in St. Louis’s Central West End. This is a fan favorite of city locals, not only because of the great selection and friendly workers, but because of their commitment to community and local STL pride.

The thing that I love most about Left Bank is their large second hand collection down the stairs. This section, which has everything from poetry to sci-fi to self-help and cook books, is the perfect spot to find a hidden treasure of a book. This is my favorite spot to find thick sapphic romances with faded annotations written in the margins, the creme de le creme of all bookstore browsing finds.

Of course, this isn’t to knock their new release and traditional section. There’s everything from political memoirs to cozy mysteries to children’s books.

They also do events nearly every week — now virtually on Zoom or their Facebook page — that include interviews with authors, live readings, and Q&A’s.

  • Address: 399 North Euclid, St Louis, MO 63108
  • Website: Left-Bank

Best Curated Lists: Subterranean Books

Subterranean Books, located in the heart of the Delmar Loop, is a great place to wander into if you don’t really know what you’re looking for. With a friendly staff, wide open space, and a variety of collections posted across the long storefront, it’s the perfect place to not only browse but to find a hidden treasure.

My favorite bit about this bookstore is the little shelves in the middle. Sometimes, they will honor what the city is celebrating that week — Black History Month, National Translation Week, Women’s History Month, and other big celebrations like these.

Subterranean also offers a great variety of monthly subscriptions. Even if you live far from STL, you can subscribe to their mystery book boxes and receive one or more hand selected books a month. This is also a great gift for the readers in your life! (Friends reading this… hint, hint.)

Best Gift Selection: The Novel Neighbor

This book shop is a special one. Another independent store, the Novel Neighbor works hard to cultivate a space that not only is full to the brim of interesting finds but is representative about the Webster Groves neighborhood that it is a part of.

Full of local artists’ work, including things like mugs, postcards, and posters, it is a great one stop shop to see a collection of pretty knickknacks and gifts. In fact, most of the Christmas presents I purchased this year came from their eclectic, lovely selection.

Not to blather on too much about the non-books — because the book selection is great. I could browse this store all day. There’s everything from a robust children’s section to a cooking memoir section. They have board games, journaling supplies, and a Young Adult section that bends around the corner.

But never fear — the Novel Neighbor also has a pretty booming TikTok account where they offer recommendations, tips, and reviews for the books that they carry!

Best For Locals: Spine Bookstore and Cafe

As a writer myself and an avid St. Louis enthusiast, I’m particularly partial to Spine Bookstore and Cafe. As a consignment bookshop, they carry a wide variety of indie and self-published books written by St. Louis locals.

Though other bookshops in the city offer consignment, this is the only bookstore that is exclusively a consignment shop. The feeling that readers often get when they dive into a new book — that feeling of belonging, of understanding, of being wrapped inside a new experience and perspective for however long they are stuck between the pages — is tenfold for me when reading an indie story by a local to my area.

There’s a gentleness in offering up your book for consignment — a desire to share, and be known, that is not quite as vulnerable when published under a company in a bookstore you do not visit yourself.

If you’re not quite so romanticized by the self-publishing lifestyle as I am, you should still stop by this shop. They offer coffee and baked goods, author events, open mic nights, and a general atmosphere of writing belonging to everyone.

Best Bargain: Half Priced Books

Listen, I might be a small business/independently owned champion, but sometimes you have to go where the deal is the greatest. Nowhere is that more clearly advertised than at a Half Priced Books.

Scattered across the country, you might already know about this family owned chain. But just in case you haven’t, it’s really what it says on the tin: the books are about half the price as at any other major realtor.

This is a must stop if you’re looking to buy a large amount on a budget; or, as I like to, if you’re waiting for a brunch reservation and you spot one of these across the street.