Georgia’s literary history is rich with remarkable women writers like Anne Rivers Siddons, Pearl Cleage, Flannery O’Connor, Tayari Jones, and Alice Walker. It’s no surprise that legacy carries into the metro’s brick-and-mortar bookshops.
1. The 2011 closure of Borders, one of Atlanta’s largest sellers of Black literature, left readers wanting. Five years later, Monique S. Hall started Book Boutique as a pop-up at the Essence Music Festival to help fill that space. Now with an Atlantic Station location, the boutique has kept its festival vibe and added apparel and a cafe. Come for your next great read, stay for Taco Tuesday, Seafood Friday, weekend brunch, or a twice-a-month spoken-word poetry series. Expect new locations in Alpharetta, Augusta, and Charlotte, North Carolina, this year.
2. Charis Books and More, founded in 1974, is the Southeast’s oldest feminist bookstore. For decades, Charis—which moved to Decatur two years ago in partnership with Agnes Scott College—has held meet-and-greets with celebrated authors from around the world. Go online to catch weekly programs from the store’s sister nonprofit, Charis Circle, like its Black Feminist Book Group or Race-Conscious Parenting Collective. A discussion of the newly published We Too: Essays on Sex Work and Survival is planned for this month.
3. The desire to create a space where diversity and inclusivity are priority is what drove Bunnie Hilliard to open Brave + Kind Bookshop in Oakhurst three years ago. An avid reader and mother of two, she wanted more books that “reflect the world we live in and the one we want to create.” After the Black Lives Matter demonstrations last summer, she saw an uptick in online orders from people across the country who hope to create more diverse libraries, with books that “celebrate Black and brown joy, adventure, love, and magic.” Don’t miss Brave + Kind’s slate of virtual events for Independent Bookstore Day on April 24.
4. FoxTale Book Shoppe, nestled near the railroad tracks in downtown Woodstock, emphasizes Southern and emerging authors. Check its Facebook page for virtual author Q&As and readings, including upcoming events with Lauren Willig, Deanna Raybourn, Jillian Cantor, and Karen White.
5. When Kimberly and Omar Finley’s oldest child was in kindergarten, he was assigned to write a poem based on the Biblical creation story. The Finleys searched for Christian children’s books to get inspiration, but they couldn’t find any that featured Black people. So, the parents decided to write one themselves. A World of Our Own: The Beginning sold 500 copies in 90 days. That’s how their tiny shop in Decatur, the Listening Tree Bookstore, was born. Today, in addition to carrying books for kids of all ages, they host a young entrepreneurs program, through which the Finleys teach kids how to write business plans and register for LLCs. Listening Tree also offers a subscription service that delivers books and other goodies to kids’ doors each month.
This article appears in our March 2021 issue.