A Few More Bookstores Worth Exploring Across the West

Don’t miss these independent bookstores in Texas, New Mexico, Utah, Nevada, Arizona, and Idaho that we love.

west coast bookstores
Alta

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1
ARIZONA: THE POISONED PEN BOOKSTORE
the poisoned pen bookstore
THE POISONED PEN BOOKSTORE

Behind the walls of a modest storefront in Old Town Scottsdale lurk murder, mayhem, and mystery. Fortunately, all this violence lies between the covers on the Poisoned Pen’s shelves. The longtime independent, which also offers historical fiction, science fiction, and Southwest-centric titles, hosts events both in-house and virtually. Scottsdale

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2
IDAHO: REDISCOVERED BOOKS
rediscovered books
Rediscovered Books

To create “a place where books and people meet,” Boise’s downtown literary hub hosts more than 200 book events for adults and kids annually. This year, Rediscovered Books aims to give away 1,000 titles through the Read Freely Project, which provides 10 free copies of a featured book to individuals, to be distributed to whomever they choose. The only stipulation: the books must be handed out face-to-face. Two other locations exist in the Boise metropolitan area, one offering a riff of Rediscovered Books as its name: Once and Future Books. Boise

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3
NEVADA: COPPER CAT BOOKS
copper cat books
COPPER CAT BOOKS

You can see why this is among the few used bookshops left in the Las Vegas area. The selection is well organized and all over the map—from UFO studies to plump history shelves to Trump: Divine Intervention or Not? But it goes deep in surprising spots—so much Nabokov!—and, importantly, the inventory changes often. Only disappointment? Mickey, the bookstore cat, is black, not copper. Henderson

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4
NEVADA: SUNDANCE BOOKS AND MUSIC
sundance books and music, reno
Sundance Books and Music

Sundance calls itself “a creative tavern of the soul”—and backs it up. The wow factor of its colonnaded exterior—it occupies a century-old mansion—is matched inside by two floors of books anchored by a robust section of Nevada-oriented titles. Its alcoves and chairs encourage dawdling and conversation, and it even operates a publishing imprint. Reno

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5
NEW MEXICO: COLLECTED WORKS BOOKSTORE & COFFEEHOUSE
collected works bookstore and coffeehouse
COLLECTED WORKS BOOKSTORE & COFFEEHOUSE

Founded in 1978, Collected Works is the oldest of Santa Fe’s 17 independent bookstores. Inside you’ll find a coffee shop, a fireplace, a patio, puzzle and chess tables, resident terrier Booker T. Dog, and multiple places to sit and browse any of the store’s 25,000 volumes (emphasis on southwestern literature, history, and cooking). Readings, book signings, and discussions occur regularly. Santa Fe

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6
NEW MEXICO: GARCIA STREET BOOKS
garcia street books, santa fe, alta journal's 2022 favorite bookstores
Garcia Street Books

Over 30 years in business, this cozy eastside shop has focused on community connection. Staff will happily place special orders, offer curbside pickup, and provide home delivery. Discount tables guard the portal leading to an eclectic selection of fiction, nonfiction, and children’s books plus cards and book-themed merchandise. Santa Fe

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7
NEW MEXICO: OP.CIT. BOOKS
op cit books, santa fe, new mexico, alta journal's 2022 favorite bookstores
Op.Cit. Books

Op.Cit. is a bookhunter’s dream: 30,000-plus volumes—mostly used, some new—stacked and shelved in the flagship Santa Fe store (the Taos location is smaller and tidier). Prices range from free to over a thousand dollars for collectible titles. Author events are starting up again post-pandemic, and the Taos Op.Cit. hosts a monthly mystery book club. Santa Fe

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8
TEXAS: BOOKED UP
booked up
Booked Up

In its heyday, Booked Up was one of the biggest bookstores in America. It’s still the most improbable. In a tiny town on the edge of the Great Plains (population: 1,702; traffic lights: 1), the novelist Larry McMurtry stocked and sold a vast assortment of used, rare, and antiquarian books. McMurtry, alas, died in 2021. The store endures, though it’s now down to a mere 150,000 volumes. Archer City, no website

9
UTAH: BACK OF BEYOND BOOKS
back of beyond books
BACK OF BEYOND BOOKS

Owned by a former national park ranger, the premier bookstore in Utah’s red-rock canyon country is stocked with guidebooks, Native histories, environmental literature, and works by southwestern writers like Tony Hillerman, Barbara Kingsolver, and Edward Abbey. The name comes from Abbey’s classic novel of eco-sabotage The Monkey Wrench Gang, but it suits the entire region. Moab

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10
UTAH: UNDER THE UMBRELLA
under the umbrella bookstore, salt lake city, utha, alta journal's 2022 favorite bookstores
Under the Umbrella

More than two dozen volunteers keep the wheels of Under the Umbrella turning. The store sells only titles by or about queer people and features a “give and take” wall, stocked with gift cards, concert tickets, prepurchased books, and more; a gender-affirming closet from which folks in need can take up to five clothing items per day; contraceptives in the bathrooms; and meeting spaces that can be reserved for events. Salt Lake City

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