Indie Bookstore Exploration at Pikes Place Market

With a six hour layover in Seattle, what’s a book nerd to do?
Answer: Continue my search for the perfect indie bookshop at Pikes Place Market of course! I found 3.

Pike's Market

The first bookstore I discovered was Left Bank Books. At this point I was still wondering what I was going to do for the next few hours so I was pleased when the first books I found upon entry were Seattle guidebooks and histories of the city. Mission accomplished. I had asked, and the bookstore had provided. I could tell I was going to like this place. The floor to ceiling old wooden bookshelves gave the impression of sagging under the weight of the books. There were books on all sorts of contemporary topics. According to the website, this is a collectively run anarchist bookstore, no wonder it had such an interesting vibe to it!

As if I wasn’t already convinced, I was completely won over as soon as I ventured upstairs. The old stairs creaked appropriately, there was a small back room containing some of the more edgy zines, and best of all, there was a wonderfully cozy window nook looking out at the street below. I savored a couple minutes  and wished I had a book to curl up with here for the next couple hours until my flight.

Window seat at Left Bank Books, Seattle

Regretfully I dislodged myself from the window seat as Micah insisted there was the rest of Pike’s Market to still explore. We watched the famous fish-throwing, ambled past beautiful flower bouquets for sale, and continued past merchants selling Seattle memorabilia. We made our way in and out of my favorite comic book shop, found ourselves disgustingly by the famous gum wall…

Gum Wall
Ewww…the gum wall

Essentially I’m trying to tell you that I can’t tell you where these bookstores are located within Pike’s Market because I had lost all sense of direction within the three story structure. However, soon enough I spotted a second bookstore.

Any bookstore where the first book I notice upon entering is a Bill Bryson book, is alright in my book. This was Lamp Light Books, a used bookshop. And not only was the first book I found a Bryson book which I haven’t read yet, but there’s an inscription on the inside cover that says, “Happy Birthday! Your friend, Bill” I sincerely hope Bryson actually wrote it, but either way I had to have it.

Bryson Book Signed

As for the rest of the shop, there really wasn’t much to it’s atmosphere. It felt like one of those old record shops where you go down the row flipping the records in the boxes, but there’s nothing cute or homey about it. The shelves were half size, which perhaps led to the record boxes on tables feeling. So put the stock of this bookshop in the first bookshop, and it would have been almost perfect! Though neither of them had an attached cafe (read my desires for a perfect Indi bookstore here), and I don’t think fish throwing is a great substitute. Though Seattle’s original Starbucks wasn’t far away, so I guess that works.

Clutching my new-found prize, we moved on, stopping in antique shops where I stared at all the pretty tea cups. (Give me a cup of tea and a good book and I’ll be quite happy!). Eventually I spotted a third bookstore, although this one’s name was a bit hard to find. Some searching finally proved it to be Lionheart books. Considering Richard the Lionheart is one of my favorite historical personalities, I was predisposed to like this place. While it wasn’t exactly any homier than the last shop, the man behind the counter was jovial and friendly, and it seemed the shop specialized in children’s books. I found whole runs of Nancy Drew and Hardy boys books! My inner child was delighted! …and a little sad I was beyond the age where I wanted to buy the missing books for my own collection. Ok… maybe I haven’t quite outgrown my love of my childhood friends, heroes & heroines, but my suitcase was already full to bursting.

Altogether, the multiple bookshops each with its own specialty focus, and convenient coffee shops, complimented each other nicely. No matter what you’re looking for, or perhaps not looking for, you’ll find at Pike Place Market. There’s something here for everyone!

And with that, it was almost time to return to the airport. We had just enough time to make a brief tour of the Seattle Public Library. I thought about asking the reference desk if they’d give me an inactivated library card to add to my collection, but this wasn’t exactly a small town library like Swanage had had, so rather than embarrass myself, I decided I’d leave that quest for another time. Perhaps the next time I visit Chincoteague.

Have you visited Pike Place Market? Have you found the perfect Indie Bookstore? Tell me about it in the comments below!

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