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9 independent bookstores in Middle Tennessee

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Music may be Nashville’s most famous export, but the creative scene here extends far beyond the stage and the recording studio.

Book lovers have several options for shopping in and around Nashville, whether they’re looking for a specific title that’s hard to find or just in the mood to get lost among tall, disorganized shelves.

Here are nine independent bookstores to explore in Middle Tennessee.

The Bookstore, East Nashville

The Bookshop is a cozy collection of books curated by owner Joelle Herr, who founded the store in 2016. The store features new titles weekly and is open to browsing in person in its brightly lit East Nashville storefront for seven days. per week.

1043 West, Eastland Avenue; 615-485-5420; herbookshop.com

Deceased Books, East Nashville

Gregory Delzer, former owner of Books, owns collectible and vintage books as well as current titles.

Just around the corner from The Bookshop in East Nashville is Defunct Books, a small bookstore that buys, sells and trades a mishmash of used books. It’s a perfect place for readers who would rather stumble upon their next read rather than search for a specific title.

1108 Woodland Street, Unit A; 615-717-5852; defuctbooks.com

Elder Bookstore, Whitebridge

A Vanderbilt graduate Charles Elder founded his store in Whitebridge in 1930, making Elder’s Bookstore one of the oldest continuously operated bookstores in Tennessee.

101 White Bridge Pike; 615-352-1562; old books.com

Fairytales Bookstore, East Nashville

Fairytales in East Nashville is a colorful, kid-friendly home for picture books, beginning readers, and young adult novels. The store also offers products related to books such as stuffed animals, art supplies, toys and more.

1108 Woodland Street, Unit G; 615-777-6323; contesnashville.com

Harper’s Books, Lebanon

Harper’s Books in Lebanon suffered flood damage in March 2020, but the store is reopened with new shelves and a repainted interior. The store has regular sales, weekly specials and staff picks.

107 S. Cumberland St., Lebanon, TN 37087; 615-549-5089; bookshop.org/shop/Harpersbookstore

McKay’s, West Nashville

Customers browse books at McKay's in Nashville, Tenn., Friday, July 26, 2019.

McKay’s is full of used games, movies, music, and more, but the West Nashville Warehouse is best known for its seemingly endless rows of shelves. With approximately 30,000 square feet of retail space over two floors, McKay’s is one of Nashville’s best bookstores for general browsing.

636 Old Hickory Boulevard; 615-353-2595; mckaybooks.com

The Oxford comma, White House

The Oxford Comma is one of Middle Tennessee’s newest independent bookstores and is home to the White House for new and used books. The store launched its first book club in July 2021 and also has an impressive collection of sports trading cards for collectors.

115 Hwy 76, White House, TN 37188; 615-285-7061 facebook.com/theoxfordcommabookstore

Parnassus Books, Green Hills

In this Thursday, June 25, 2020 photo, workers fill customer orders at Parnassus Books in Nashville, Tenn.  The independent bookstore, owned by novelist Ann Patchett and Karen Hayes, has opened and thrived while others closed and is again defying the odds during the coronavirus pandemic.

Novelist Ann Patchett and her business partner Karen Hayes opened Parnassus in Green Hills in 2011. The store hosts events and author readings and has several famous fans, from actor Tom Hanks to former President Barack Obama.

Read more: Barack Obama visits Nashville Parnassus Books virtually ahead of Independent Bookstore Day

3900 Hillsboro Pike Suite 14; 615-953-2243; parnassusbooks.net

Rhinoceros Booksellers, Sylvan Park

Located right across from Richland Park, Rhino sells “Used, Rare, and Endangered Books.” Regular customers love the helpful staff and the friendly cat who winds through the rows of shelves.

4918 Charlotte Avenue; 615-279-0310; rhinobooksellers.com

Cole Villena covers the affairs of The Tennessean, which is part of the USA Today Network – Tennessee. Contact Cole at [email protected] or 615-925-0493. Follow Cole on Twitter at @ColeVillena and on Instagram at @CVinTennessee.