Give Your Money to These 13 Feminist Bookstores
Support the literary communities where women readers and writers are seen and heard
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I t’s no secret that women authors have been historically overlooked. If you read the New York Times’ column Overlooked, you’ll find an embarrassing number of very successful female authors who were not given obituaries in the newspaper because the editors (men) decided they weren’t important enough — Sylvia Plath and Charlotte Brontë to name a few. Many women have gone by male pen names so their novels would be taken seriously. Simone de Beauvoir probably wrote most of Jean Paul Sartre’s Being and Nothingness, but he’s the one lauded as the voice of the existentialists.
Feminist bookstores create a safe space for the literary community to convene, where women readers and writers are seen and heard. Here are 13 bookstores dedicated to championing the literary works of women and non-binary authors.
The Second Shelf in London, U.K.
A.N. Devers is an author and rare book dealer who decided to open her own rare books store after she discovered the price discrepancy between male-authored and female-authored books. She told the Guardian in an interview, “I pulled two books of the shelf and gaped at the prices. The woman’s book was $25. The book by the man was hundreds.” Devers’ store specializes in rare books, modern first editions, manuscripts, and rediscovered works by women writers.
Persephone Books in London, U.K.
Persephone Books reprints literature by women from the 20th century that has been overlooked or forgotten. The proprietors find titles that have gone out of print and bring them back to life with an elegant jacket and a preface by a contemporary author. The most important criteria for the Persephone Books team is that they only publish books that they completely, utterly love. In addition to their unique publishing house, they have a shop located on Lamb’s Conduit Street in London.
Bluestockings Bookstore in Manhattan, New York
Located in the Lower East Side, Bluestockings is a collectively-owned, volunteer-powered activist bookstore with topics ranging from queer studies to dismantling oppression. It’s also devoted to maintaining a safe space for customers. In 2017, the store peacefully dealt with a group of alt-right provocateurs who attempted to plant their shelves with white supremacist books. Advertised on its website as 98% radical and 2% glitter, Bluestockings has a lot to offer including 6,000 book titles, zines, journals, menstrual products, and a cafe with “darn good coffee brimming with zapatismo.”
Cafe con Libros in Brooklyn, New York
Cafe Con Libros is a cozy little bookstore cafe owned by Kalima DeSuze, an Afro-Latinx woman veteran. Located in Crown Heights near Prospect Park, the bookstore “is a space explicitly dedicated to the stories of womyn and girls of all identities and, where lovers of said stories can come together to build community.”
Violet Valley Bookstore in Water Valley, Mississippi
Wedged between two large brick buildings, this bright, narrow store with an eggshell blue awning and a proudly displayed rainbow flag is a little oasis of feminist and LGBTQ+ books, both new and used.
A Room of One’s Own in Madison, Wisconsin
A Room of One’s Own is an independent bookstore with a wide variety of genres and a focus on women’s studies and LGBTQ+ fiction. The space is often used as a meeting place for community events and small discussion groups.
Women and Children First in Chicago, Illinois
Ann Christophersen and Linda Bubon were studying literature in university and had trouble finding women authors in their local bookstores and libraries. They decided to take things into their own hands and opened Women and Children First in 1979. This feminist bookstore has since become a staple in the literary community of Chicago, hosting incredible voices such as Gloria Steinem, Maya Angelou, Alison Bechdel, Eve Ensler, Hillary Clinton, Margaret Atwood, and more.
The Women’s Bookshop in Auckland, New Zealand
Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city, houses a literary refuge for women at The Women’s Bookshop. In addition to its extensive collection of feminist literature, it has become the country’s go-to bookshop for therapy and counseling books.
Womencrafts in Provincetown, Massachusetts
Womencrafts provides its customers with a “welcoming space that lends itself to partners embracing and kissing, intimate stories being shared, and staff often crying and reaching for tissues.” Although the books in stock are largely LGBTQ+ focused, the genres range a wide selection of carefully curated titles all written by women.
Antigone Books in Tucson, Arizona
Antigone is the daughter of Oedipus in Sophocles’ plays, a resilient and virtuous character who maintains her values in the face of adversity. This bookstore was named after the ancient Greek character and fashioned its mission after its eponym. The store enriches the community with a variety of workshops and book groups, and a devoted staff that frequently shares advice on what to read next with their recommended reading lists.
Librairie L’Euguelionne in Montreal, Canada
Montreal’s féministe bookstore, called L’Euguelionne, is difficult to pronounce but thankfully offers a helpful mnemonic device on its website: “ler-gay-lee-onn — you can think of a gay lion, even though it’s not what it means.” L’Euguelionne offers feminist literature in all forms, from magazines and art books to essays and textbooks, with an emphasis on celebrating diverse authors.
Charis Books & More in Atlanta, Georgia
The South’s oldest independent feminist bookstore offers an array of specialized sections on important topics that seem to have slipped through the cracks of the more corporate bookstores. Subsections cover topics from coming out to domestic violence, and political reading lists include “Understanding and Dismantling White Supremacy.” And if you think it can’t get better than that, think again; the store hosts a weekly yoga class.
Sister’s Uptown Bookstore & Cultural Center in Manhattan, New York
In 2000, two sisters, Janifer and Kori Wilson, opened Sister’s Uptown Bookstore in Harlem, which has since expanded into the cultural center that it is today. This Black-owned indie bookstore provides “resources for members of the community to nurture their minds, hearts and souls with present and past works of gifted African American authors and other great authors and intellectuals including masters of spoken word.”