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Judge a City by its Bookstores

With a deep history and thriving arts scene, it's no surprise that Philadelphia is also saturated with literature. But don't take our word for it! Spend a weekend, or several, treasure hunting, perusing and getting to know the proprietors of these fine, independent establishments.

Joseph Fox Bookshop

Joseph Fox Bookshop is the rare independent seller of new books that has survived the rise of Barnes & Nobles, Borders and Amazon alike. Pristinely organized and carefully curated, with a speedy special order system, Joseph Fox represents all the convenience of its mega-counterparts as well as its own irreplaceable indie soul. They sponsor hundreds of author events each year, and every bookseller has more stellar literary recommendations on the tip of their tongue than you have time to read.

Brickbat Books

Leave your reading list at home and let your imagination run wild with an open mind at Brickbat. Brickbat isn't so much a used books store as it is a used book gallery. From ancient to obscure, every offering is a good or like-new condition copy of a book you've never seen before or never thought you'd find. You could shop Brickbat with your eyes closed, and from wry children's literature and valuable first editions to graphic novels and glossy art books, every tome you picked up would be a gem.

Baldwin's Book Barn

Though technically in West Chester, PA, every bibliophile in Philadelphia is eager to claim Baldwin's Book Barn as their own. Who wouldn't be? With five stories, 300,000 books, antique first editions, arched doorways and windows and at least two beloved cats, Baldwin's is the real life incarnation of a lazy Sunday's daydream—and the perfect destination said day.

Port Richmond Books

Port Richmond Books is a standout for its trappings alone, a soaring silent movie theater built in 1913 that has retained its grandeur and possibly a few ghosts. But it’s owner and bookseller Greg Gillespie who really sets the location apart. Gillespie cares deeply and equally for his collectibles and customers while also being an endless source of local history and legend.

Head House Books

Chess clubs, French conversation hours, toddler music classes and four to seven author events a month--Head House Books is a community gathering spot, a standing book club and one of the best sources for children's books and gifts in the city. Pick the brain of owner Richard De Wyngaert and browse some of his favorites, such as Richard Russo's Straight Man and The Hour of Land: A Personal Topography of America's National Parks.