Summertime means a great many things for Northeast Ohio residents, with recreational reading often topping a sun-drenched list of to-dos. Soon-to-be travelers and vacationers start digging for great beach, train and airplane reads early, while the kids ponder what to pick to complete their summer reading list for school mere weeks before returning.
Book shopping in Northeast Ohio shouldn’t be a chore or require a big box store to satisfy. These favorite indie haunts for regional bookworms are infinitely satisfying.
12419 Cedar Road in Cleveland Heights
The winner of many “best-of” awards, this gem in the Cedar-Fairmount area is the hobbyhorse for a retired CWRU professor. The store is packed with everything from proper literature and fiction to children’s titles, greeting cards and a meticulous selection of hardbacks, paperbacks and more. Nearby neighbors Zoss the Swiss Baker and Valerio’s La Gelateria & Pizzeria help nourish 21st-century bookworms between marathon browsing sessions. Charming and disarming, Appletree has great atmosphere and staff.
Fireside Book Shop
29 N. Franklin St. in Chagrin Falls
Think Norman Rockwell meets Thornton Wilder, with a touch of Frank Capra for good measure, and you’ve got a pretty good idea of what this bookstore feels like. The staff keeps a great schedule of events at Fireside – ranging from local author signings, live music and makeshift theater presentations to poetry nights and writing/reading group meetings – to match a wicked selection. Chagrin Falls has a lot going for it, and this 45-year-old business is at the top of the list.
24519 Cedar Road in Lyndhurst
Part of a low-profile, regional chain (see also Charlotte, Cincinnati, Louisville and Pittsburgh), this bi-level bookstore can give the Borders and Barnes & Noble chains a run for their money. The store features an excellent selection of all types of books with great bargains, variety and a fortified young adults section. JBB offers a wide variety of other gifts (they’ll wrap ’em, too) and has a great bistro-café as well. Their lecture series featuring regional and bestselling authors is icing on the cake.
Learned Owl Book Shop
204 N. Main St. in Hudson
Just like Fireside, Learned Owl – and all of Hudson’s town square and First & Main shopping district, for that matter – has that back-in-time feeling. Champions of indie presses, smaller publishing houses and regional authors, this old-fashioned treat keeps three floors of selections overflowing. With a helpful staff, great kids section and a healthy author-signing schedule, Learned Owl is always a great place to browse. Between visits, fans of the shop can check out its show – “Ink, Pulp and Caffeine” – on local cable TV and online.
13015 Larchmere Blvd. in Shaker Heights
One of Larchmere’s true gems, this cozy shop feels like a bibliophile’s study, den and library all rolled into one. Owner Harriet Logan prides herself on a broad selection of new, used and rare tomes, hosting regular literary events like the Edible Book Festival during the spring and the burgeoning Author Alley event on July 3. No topic is too lofty for Loganberry’s stock; anything your heart desires is likely to be there. The inviting staff, which includes feline help, always makes sure you feel at home and loves to special order.
1820 Coventry Road in Cleveland Heights
This Coventry Road book exchange is a crowded bohemian paradise: three floors of new and used books ranging from history and culture to fiction, literature, chapter books and children’s options. Mere minutes from Cleveland’s cultural museums and Case Western Reserve University, Mac’s is a haven for local poets and authors, offering readings, author talks and book signings, and a number of writing and reading clubs. A member of the nationwide IndieBound bookseller community (formerly BookSense), patrons can trade in books for store credit.
1023 Kenilworth Ave. in Cleveland
If Jack Kerouac were alive today, odds are good he’d stop by this delectable book shop and wine-and-coffee bar in the trendy Tremont neighborhood. Flanked by modish, indie-minded restaurants and art galleries, Visible Voice is a popular spot – like a comfy living-reading room with late hours to accommodate walk-in traffic from events like the Tremont Art Walk. With a sharp focus on local authors, poets and subcultural gems, VV has everything a bibliophile’s heart desires.
2969 W. 25th St. in Cleveland
Established in 1961 by John T. Zubal, Zubal Books is a scholarly book-lover’s dream come true. With a staggering 5 million academic and rare/antique book titles and volumes, Zubal was featured on the Travel Channel program “Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations.” The shop is situated in a Cleveland warehouse. If you can dream it, Zubal is likely to have it in stock, with the vast majority of shopping taking place online or by rare appointment.