Booksellers have had to overcome many challenges through the years. Big chains threatened smaller independent bookstores as they swept the country. Then the digital era took the literary world by storm and converted many physical book lovers to E-book readers. Tablets and electronic devices began to replace conventional books. Some independents have survived, though, by offering unique experiences to book lovers, and here’s a look at the top five in South Florida.
Sweet Haven Books
12375 SW 224th St,
Miami, FL 33170
This place is a book-lover’s dream. Sweet Haven Books is a family-owned business that caters to all readers. Patricia Medina and her husband Jesus Castellat opened this hidden gem on Nov. 6, 2021. It is located in the historic village of Cauley Square. China cabinets with old and new books line the walls, fairy lights adorn the ceiling, and their three-year-old puppy, Scruffy, lies peacefully on a chair. They have a corner where you can buy “a blind book,” as Medina calls it. The anonymous novel is wrapped in corrugated paper, has short written clues, and is sealed with a wax stamp. That sounds like a very successful blind date waiting to happen. This bookseller makes sure to have a little bit of everything for all. From Colleen Hoover’s latest release to first edition classics such as “Gone With the Wind,” you will be able to find it here. Sweet Haven Books also hosts open mic night. Anyone who wants to take on the mic is welcome to share their passion. The event takes place every first Saturday of the month at 7 p.m. with an entrance cost of $5 for adults and $2 for children. You can enjoy live music, wine and champagne. They also have book clubs for women and teens. The women’s book club meets up every first Friday of the month and the teen’s every second Friday at 8 p.m. The men’s book club is still in the works and looking for members, so if you are interested make sure to pass by for more information. Trivia night, crafts for kids, and storytime with Scruffy are some more of the events they host every month. There is a cottage behind that stores many of their older books. The cottage is a reserved space for writers, students, or anyone looking for a quiet space to focus. The bookstore offers a $200 membership that allows unlimited access to the cottage for a whole year. If you are a book fanatic and want to have a private event here, you can. Sweet Haven Books has hosted baby showers, birthdays and engagement parties. If you are near Cauley Square, and even if you’re not, make sure to stop by this diamond in the rough.
Volume One Books
910 Taft St,
Pembroke Pines, FL 33024
Combine thrifting, the aroma of old books and a lifetime’s worth of novels; the result is Volume One Books. Sitting in between a martial arts center and a preschool is this independent bookstore. Sharon Luipold has run it for almost 26 years. The maze of used novels is sure to take you a few hours to get through. If you are looking for a specific book, you might want to ask for some help; Luipold can find your novel in seconds. Books are displayed on shelves, boxes and metal display racks. There is a table full of books for 50 cents. Almost all novels are sold at half the cover price and hardbacks begin at $5. This bookseller is wallet-friendly and ready to fill your shelf with new books to read.
Barnes and Noble
Kendall Village West, 12405 N Kendall Dr,
Miami, FL 33186
With its roots running deep from New York, Barnes and Noble carries its ambiance along with it. Sophisticated bookshelves hold novels upon novels waiting to be picked up. The Barnes and Noble Starbucks café has tables and chairs inviting you to take a sip of some warm coffee and crack open a book. From graphic novels to Camila Cabello’s latest album in vinyl to your next anticipated read, this bookseller has it. The Kendall location, has two floors to explore. On the first floor, some genres include young adult, fiction and horror. The second floor has religion, cookbooks, and self help novels. Although there are not many chairs available on the second floor, many visitors lean against shelves and walls before getting lost in their next read.
Books and Books
265 Aragon Ave,
Coral Gables, FL 33134
Floor-to-ceiling shelves welcome you to Books and Books. An old library feeling flows through the walls, a silent plea to spend an hour or two flipping through pages. This bookseller has locations you can visit across South Florida. If you were hoping to meet one of your favorite authors, it is that they have visited or will be visiting the Coral Gables Books and Books location. You can view their upcoming event schedule here. Book signings and book launches take place every month. Mitchell Kaplan is the owner of Books and Books and is also co-founder of the Miami Book Fair International. Novels are sold at suggested retail price. The Coral Gables location of Books and Books has a cafe inside and an outdoor seating area with a bar where you can order wine and beer. Time feels a little slower when you come visit this bookstore.
Paradis Books and Bread
12831 W. Dixie Hwy.
North Miami, FL 33161
Books, pizza and wine are waiting for you in this small, but charming, corner in North Miami. Paradis Books and Bread opened on July 2021. It is owned by four friends: Audrey Wright and her brother Brian Wright, Bianca Sanon and Joseph Chesson. A book cart near the sidewalk outside welcomes you to this location and carries free books ready to go home with you. The interior is decorated with paintings, wine bottles and indoor plants emanating a sense of tranquility. Their book selections include fiction, non-fiction, poetry, spanish language books, and some are written by local authors. Their non-fiction selections include novels that focus on climate change and international struggles. Smaller pamphlets begin at $2 and poetry books range from $10 to $17. Sipping a glass of wine and reading a poetry book in this hidden treasure will leave you with the need to come back soon.