By JoAnne Laffey Abed
Whether you’re curling up on a rainy day, sneaking some “me” time, unwinding after a busy day, or even turning pages on a beach somewhere, few things in life provide the escape and excitement of settling in with a great book. Amazon has changed the game for book sales, but there is simply no substitute for the personal service, meaningful recommendations, and immediate gratification of an intimate local bookstore or an experienced local dealer.
As self-professed bibliophiles, the Surcee team admits to spending A LOT of time exploring and learning more about these fantastic local book merchants. We also credit their staff’s knowledge and insight with encouraging us to go beyond online rankings and the New York Times bestseller lists to discover some of the best books we’ve ever read.
Here are a few of our favorites, including some very familiar names and undiscovered gems:
Located in the heart of downtown, M. Judson is a mecca for Greenville’s literary crowd. With a broad selection of many genres, handwritten synopses and recommendations displayed next to many selections, and friendly and knowledgeable staff members who love reading every bit as much as you do – maybe more – M. Judson is a great place to find the perfect book. While nearly all Greenvillians have heard of M. Judson, few know its history. Perhaps no one has done more to impact our area’s educational system and love for literature than Mary Camilla Judson. After moving to Greenville in 1857, she became the first principal of Greenville Female College, which became part of Furman University. She also founded the Judson Literary Society - a women’s literature and debate club- and helped open a library on Furman’s campus, which was later named in her honor. M. Judson pays homage to her memory and legacy.
Founded by a former New York publishing executive with an unsurpassed passion for books and knowledge of all things literary, Fiction Addiction carries new books and charming gifts, like charms and journals, as well as local collegiate items. Many of the shop’s gifts are literary themed, so there’s no better place to go if you’re looking for something special for an avid reader. With the explicitly stated goal of helping each customer find his or her perfect read for this moment in time, Fiction Addiction also leverages the owner’s literary connections to host frequent author talks and book signings.
The ultimate niche bookseller focused on local lore and history, Southern Historical Press is THE shop for those interested in learning more about Southern genealogy, the history of enslaved people, regional perspectives on national events like the Revolutionary or Civil War, or even the personal history of local families going back many generations.
This 4,000 square foot new and used shop in Travelers Rest is jam packed with books, especially works by regional authors and educational items. The owners pride themselves on getting repeat customers, many of whom the team come to know so well, staff can easily curate a stack of books for them. The store also buys books and offers a generous trade-in policy offering store credits for books that are returned to them, As the Page Turns is a huge budget plus for those who tear through books quickly and hosts regular book clubs where fellow readers can discuss fun and thought-provoking books with one another.
The Buncombe Antique Mall in Taylors is home to Brooks with Books, a great antique book dealer. Whether you’re looking for a rare first edition, a nostalgic childhood classic, or the perfect old-school leather-bound piece for your bookshelf, Brooks with Books is a perfect place to browse. Paired with the opportunity to check out the mall’s 18,000 square feet of antiques displays, it’s a great way to spend an afternoon.
Few things in life provide the escape and excitement of settling in with a great book
A labor of love and the result of a lifetime of collecting books, Angel’s Book Shoppe buys and sells rare and used books. Combing through the stacks at Angel’s is like a treasure hunt where shoppers can find everything from literary classics to reference books, including some books that are hundreds of years old, and its cozy atmosphere invites you to sit and read a while.
No mention of books in Greenville would be complete without mentioning the Greenville Literacy Association, which provides adult instruction to improve literacy and workforce readiness across our area. Their Really Good, Really Big, Really Cheap book sale, held each August, is a staple on the calendar of any booklover. The association is also an excellent place to donate books to help you make room for more.
Reading is not only a great way to escape the every day and expand your horizons, but also an excellent way to exercise your mind and imagination. Local booksellers are here to help, so update your Goodreads list and go take a peek.