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Brooklyn Books: 5 independent bookstores to check out

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Greenlight Bookstore Brooklyn
Greenlight Bookstore in Fort Green. Photo: Rikomatic

By Sarah Amandolare in Brooklyn—

It’s no secret that Brooklyn is well stocked with trendy shops and hipster eateries, but the borough also offers a wide array of fine independent bookstores. Here are five of my favorites, from DUMBO to Greenpoint:

Related: Our 10 favorite independent bookstores in New York City

WORD
126 Franklin Street
Brooklyn, NY 11222
Hours: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. daily
Web site

Situated on certifiably hip Franklin Street in Greenpoint, this cheery store is fully stocked, but somehow not overwhelming—maybe due to the helpful and passionate employees. Browse the latest literary fiction and nonfiction, plus an array of literary journals, and books by small independent presses you’ll be grateful to have discovered.

WORD also hosts a slew of fun literary events several nights per week, including readings by notable authors (past events have featured names like Kate Christensen and Maud Newton), several different book clubs covering everything from Russian literature to David Foster Wallace, and a new series hosted by blogger David Gutowski delving into the influence of music on writing.

Greenlight Bookstore
686 Fulton Street (at South Portland)
Brooklyn, NY 11217
Hours: 10 a.m.-10 p.m. daily
Web site

Fort Greene has no shortage of literary prowess—authors like Colson Whitehead, Jhumpa Lahiri and Richard Wright have called the neighborhood home—and since October 2009, local residents have had a cool and quirky bookstore to call their own.

The shop is located on bustling Fulton Street, and owned by Rebecca Fitting and Jessica Stockton Bagnulo, two friends with decades of publishing and bookstore experience between them. The spacious, well-lit community meeting spot hosts compelling events and readings by local poets and nationally renowned authors every week.

BookCourt
163 Court Street (between Pacific & Dean)
Brooklyn, NY 11201
Hours: Mon-Sat: 9 a.m.-10 p.m.; Sun 10 a.m.-9 p.m.
Web site

On Court Street in downtown Brooklyn sits one of the borough’s most impressive literary event hosts—and they sell books, too. Drawing big name authors like Gary Shteyngart, and local up-and-comers like Emma Straub for readings and release parties, BookCourt is an unassuming hot spot. Look for the front windows plastered with book posters before heading into the wood-floored space stocked with tall shelves. If indie authors are your thing, check the BookCourt calendar for upcoming Small Press Night events.

Pranga Bookstore
354 Court Street
Brooklyn, NY 11231
Hours: Mon-Sat 10:30 a.m.-8 p.m.; Sun: 10:30 a.m.-7 p.m.
Web site

Most used bookshops are dusty and dingy, but that old formula doesn’t suit Pranga. The Carroll Gardens shop is delightfully organized and clean, and situated a couple of steps down into a cozy basement-level space. There are some new titles near the store entranceway, but the selection of used books takes over the remainder of the first and entire second floors. Prices are low, and browsing reveals unexpected finds.

powerHouse Books
37 Main Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201
Hours: Mon-Fri 10 a.m.-7 p.m.; Sun 11 a.m.-7 p.m.
Web site

Not all bookstores strive for quaint, and in fact, some fly directly in its face. In DUMBO, powerHouse Books occupies an airy and modern space, all white and brightly lit, with sculpture and modern art on display throughout. In addition to a thorough selection of fashion and art titles published by powerHouse Books, the store holds plenty of mainstream and independent fiction and non-fiction, plus an irresistible selection of colorful children’s books. Events like art openings, readings and performances are held in the mezzanine area.

About the author

About the author: Sarah Amandolare is a freelance writer living in Brooklyn. She's written for Budget Travel, New York Magazine online, Fodor's and The New York Times Globespotters blog, among others. Follow her on Twitter or visit her website.

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