Best Bookstores in Baltimore

Baltimore was once known as “The City That Reads.” Although the nickname didn’t stick, there are still a handful of bookstores in Baltimore where you can get lost in stacks of novels, comics, memoirs, or whatever you prefer to read.
  • 01 of 06

    Atomic Books

    3620 Falls Rd.; 410-662-4444
    This independent bookstore in Hampden has a wide range of graphic novels, comics, zines, magazines, art and DIY books, and more. There is also a bunch of toys and other kitschy items, plus a "Marylandia" section featuring books by local authors and books about Baltimore and Maryland. Notable Baltemorean John Waters is also known to stop by the bookstore, which officially receives his fan mail and sells his novels and movies.

  • 02 of 06

    Red Emma’s Bookstore and Coffeehouse

    30 W. North Ave.; 443.602.7585
    Named for anarchist an dpolitical activist Emma Goldman, Red Emma's is a worker-owned and collectively-managed bookstore and coffeeshop. They not only have an expansive book selection with politically charged books and zines, but also a dedicated classroom space and a full vegan/vegetarian restaurant. They also roast fair-trade coffee on site.

  • 03 of 06

    The Book Thing of Baltimore, Inc.

    3001 Vineyard Lane; 410-662-5631
    The Book Thing might be Baltimore-area bibliophile’s best kept secret. On Saturdays and Sunday from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m., this cotton candy-colored warehouse opens its doors and offers donated books absolutely free to the public. Yes, you right that correctly, absolutely free. The pickings can sometimes be sparse and other times bountiful, but each weekend the stock is completely different. All browsers need to do is mark how many books they took as they leave (and hopefully write a quick “thank you” to The Book Thing staffers, whose mission is “to put unwanted books into the hands of those who want them”).
  • 04 of 06

    The Ivy Bookshop

    6080 Falls Rd.; 410-377-2966
    This locally-owned Baltimore bookstore has been voted "Baltimore's Best Bookstore" by both Baltimore magazine and Baltimore City Paper. The store hosts many literary events and collaborates with many educational and cultural partners, including the Enoch Pratt Free Library, WYPR, the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University, and more. The store also offers discounts for registered book clubs, in which all purchases by book club members will receive 10 percent off purchases.

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  • 05 of 06

    Normals Bookstore

    425 E. 31st St.; 410-243-6888
    Now more than 20 years old, Normals Bookstore is a labyrinth of new and used books, records, CDs, and more. The collectively-run shop is located in the Abell neighborhood near Charles Village and is stocked with just about everything imaginable, from small press graphic novels to books on Eastern philosophy. It's easy to get lost in the bookstore; not just because the maze-like store is divided into several small rooms, but also because visitors are pretty much guaranteed to find something they enjoy reading in the store's nooks and crannies.
  • 06 of 06

    Red Canoe Bookstore and Coffeehouse

    4337 Harford Rd.; 410-444-4440
    This cozy bookstore is full of books for children, teens, and adults. The staff has been known to go above and beyond to find books for shoppers, and the proprietor -- who is also a pastry chef -- makes muffins and other baked goods every day. The coffee shop serves Zeke’s Coffee, which is roasted nearby. If there is nice weather, the outdoor garden is the perfect place to start your new book and sip on a cup of coffee or tea.