San Francisco, CA
A list of the country's best bookstores is simply not complete without City Lights, iconic both for its history and inventory. Affectionately dubbed the “literary landmark” of alternative culture, CL was the brainchild of poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti and opened in 1953 as the nation’s first all-paperback book shop.
Open until midnight, this three-story bastion of books located next to Kerouac Alley boasts photos of famous beatniks (Allen Ginsberg, Richard Brautigan, etc.) integral to its history, as well as off-beat sections like a "Stolen Continents”, which feature books about/from writers of imperialized countries.
Square Books Oxford, MS
Arguably one of the coolest local finds in Oxford, Square Books is located in three different buildings, each set 100 feet apart and offering something different. While one is dedicated entirely to children’s books, the others -- including a two-floor main building with cafe -- are chock-full of new arrivals, history, poetry, and of course, works by Oxford's own, William Faulkner.