Fictional Bookstores I Want to Visit

rory books

I have been rewatching Gilmore Girls in anticipation of the new episodes being released in November. I love how present books are in the show, and it is always fun to see what Rory is reading. Fans of the show know that the townspeople and their businesses feature prominently in Gilmore Girls. Add the small Connecticut town of Stars Hollow to the list of fictional places I would like to live. I was recently watching an episode from season one where Rory wandered into Stars Hollow Books with her dad when he is visiting. The cute, little bookstore features in other episodes of the show, and I started daydreaming about walking down the aisles and picking out a few books. It got me to thinking about other fictional bookstores I would like to visit.

black & white & read

Black & White & Read Bookstore, Gilmore Girls

Add this to the list of reasons that Stars Hollow is an awesome place: they have two bookstores even though it is a small town. Black & White & Read hosts regular screenings of old movies. I would gladly pull up a chair, bring some snacks and watch a movie among shelves of books with my favorite residents of Stars Hollow.

monster book

Flourish & Blotts, Harry Potter Series

Being the Potter fan I am, I cannot forget to mention Flourish & Blotts, the bookstore in Diagon Alley where Hogwarts students have been buying their school books for years. During Harry’s first visit there in Harry Potter & the Sorcerer’s Stone, the store is described as a place, “…where the shelves were stacked to the ceiling with books as large as paving stones bound in leather; books the size of postage stamps in covers of silk; books full of peculiar symbols and a few books with nothing in them at all.” The bookstore pops up throughout the series, including being the site of fight between Arthur Weasley and Lucius Malfoy during a Gilderoy Lockhart book signing in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. We also see the poor bookseller struggling with his stock of The Monster Book of Monsters in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. I will take a moment here to imagine wandering the aisles with Hermione and checking out all her favorite titles.


Sempere & Sons Bookstore & the Cemetery of Forgotten Books (Cemetery of Forgotten Books Series)

Carlos Ruiz Zafón’s series starts out with The Shadow of the Wind, which is our first introduction to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, a vast, old library of winding shelves, full of titles that have been forgotten. The books are lovingly preserved there for the few that are allowed access to the library. Tradition dictates that anyone initiated into this place must take one title and protect it for life. The novel unfolds when young Daniel Sempere selects The Shadow of the Wind by Julián Carax. Daniel’s dad runs a bookstore called Sempere & Sons, so, needless to say, bookstores and libraries play a prominent part in Zafón’s series. Added bonus: the series is set in Barcelona, a city I visited and loved back in 1996. I will gladly accept a trip back to Barcelona that includes a visit to Zafón’s fictional locations.

Portlandia mermaid

Women & Women First, Portlandia

I would love to visit Toni and Candace at the fictional feminist bookstore, Women & Women First. They do not get a large number of customers, and their behavior toward their customers often leads to customers leaving the store without buying anything, but I can’t help but love Toni and Candace’s dedication to keeping their bookstore going, despite the fact that feminist bookstores in the U.S. are becoming more and more rare. It is not just the awesome selection of feminist books and merchandise that makes this store appealing, but it is also the way that Women & Women First allows us to laugh at feminism without resorting to the mean insults normally used. Even with my MA in Women’s Studies and my feminism, I am not sure I would be able to please Toni and Candace enough to have the chance to buy something in their store, but it would be worth a try.

What are your favorite fictional bookstores? Share them in the comments.


Celebrating Fictional Female Friendships

If you took your cues from the Real Housewives franchise or other such shows, it would appear that female friendships are full of constant bickering, going behind each other’s backs and betrayal. Whenever I see relationships between women represented this way, I cringe. I think of my own female friendships and just how far they are from this version of so-called friendship we see on TV. I know reality shows and other programs that play up the antagonism in relationships are doing so to build drama, but such representations of friendships between women unfortunately reinforce the stereotype that women are catty, petty and will stop at nothing to tear another person down.

I have some amazing female friends. We have been through ups and downs together, and even when we disagree about something or get into an argument, it is never petty and vindictive and usually ends with a quick resolution that involves profuse apologies. These are relationships full of laughing together, crying together and being unconditionally supportive. So, rather than spending any more time on the negative representations of female friendships, let’s take some time to celebrate some of my favorite fictional female friendships.


Leslie Knope & Ann Perkins

I love Parks & Recreation so much that I even wrote about HR lessons that could be learned from the show. The show is peppered with excellent examples of powerful friendship, but at the heart of it all is the friendship between Leslie and Ann. What I like is how easily these two accept each other’s flaws and are there through whatever life throws at each of them. There is no jealousy or bitterness. Leslie is such a fan of her awesome friends that she throws Galentine’s Day every year on February 13 to celebrate female friendship.

“Kindred spirits are not so scarce as I used to think. It’s splendid to find out there are so many of them in the world.”
–L.M. Montgomery

Anne Shirley & Diana Barry

I can’t avoid mentioning “bosom friends” Anne and Diana from the Anne of Green Gables series. These two form a friendship right away and their loyalty toward each other has brought joy to readers for years. What I like about this friendship is that it was formed so easily. Some of my closest friendships started in this effortless way where we became friends because life brought us together.

Celie, Shug Avery & Sisterhood in The Color Purple

Sisterhood is a powerful theme in Alice Walker’s novel. Celie is at the center of this story, but the novel has other strong female characters in Shug, Nettie and Sofia. And each gains awareness of her own situation through their relationships with other women. These women experience difficult struggles through the course of the story, but their friendships endure. The book even ends with a touching reunion that further emphasizes how sisterhood can endure.

Idgie Threadgoode & Ruth Jamison

We meet Idgie and Ruth in Fannie Flagg’s Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café, which was eventually made into a movie. The two are very different but form a tight friendship that spans the book. Flagg’s novel also shows us the development of the friendship between Evelyn Couch and Ninny Threadgoode.

The Mothers of The Joy Luck Club

I recently read Amy Tan’s book, so this one is fresh in my mind. The novel goes back and forth between the lives of four mothers and four daughters. The mothers are Suyuan Woo, An-Mei Hsu, Lindo Jobg and Ying-Ying St. Clair. At the center of the story is Jing-Mei “June” Woo, whose mother recently died. The other mothers tell her the story of the twin baby girls her mother left behind long ago in China, and they help June to get to China to meet her older half sisters. Through this action, you see the deep bond these four women formed.

Gilmore coffee

The Women of Gilmore Girls

Like Parks & RecGilmore Girls gives us some dynamic female friendships on TV. Really, we can easily say that the relationship between mother and daughter is the heart of the show, but each of these women has strong female friendships as well. Whether it’s Rory’s friends Lane and Paris or Lorelei’s friendship with Sookie (just to name a few), the women of Star’s Hollow would be more than ready for a crossover that involves Leslie Knope arriving to throw a big Galentine’s celebration in Stars Hollow.

Of course there are many more female friendships. These are just a few. Be sure to share your favorites in the comments.