New Dominion Bookshop/Instagram The New Dominion Bookshop Rose Garden
New Dominion Bookshop/Instagram

The staff at Dogwood shares their favorite bookstores across the commonwealth. 

When most folks want to relax, they book themselves a spa appointment to be pampered. When we, the small but mighty team at Dogwood, find ourselves stressed and in need of a break, we head to the nearest locally owned bookstore to spend some quality time browsing. 

A recent article in The New Yorker talks about “what we gain from a good bookstore,” and as it turns out, there’s a LOT. For word nerds like us, there’s comfort in scanning the shelves for our next getaway from the real world. That unmistakable scent of crisp pages begging to be turned? We can’t get enough.

Marcus Tullius Cicero said it best: “A room without books is like a body without a soul.” 

In honor of all the great works of literature we want to read but don’t have time to, we’ve put together a list of our 10 favorite bookstores across the commonwealth in alphabetical order. (Full confession: One of our picks isn’t what you’d call a “traditional” store, but it had to be included!) 

Bluebird and Co. – Crozet

Credit: @bluebirdandco on Instagram

This shop first started out as a tiny, curated pop-up shop that operated out of a vintage camper (and still does!) and recently opened a brick-and-mortar boutique. In addition to a ton of great books for both children and adults, you can also find local goods and products from women-owned businesses at Bluebird and Co. A mission after our own hearts!

Books and Crannies – Martinsville

Credit: @booksncrannies_ on Instagram

Nestled in the heart of Uptown Martinsville, this quaint, Black woman-owned bookstore opened in 2016. DeShanta Hairston signed up for Startup Martinsville, a local grant competition and education program linking entrepreneurs and opportunities, and the result is a space we always feel safe. The brick-and-mortar sells new and used books in all genres and regularly hosts special events like children’s story times and book signings.

The Dog Eared Page – Danville

Credit: @thedogearedpagedanville on Instagram

Featuring everything from mainstream reads to local authors, this bookstore is right in the center of the city’s prized River District. Steps away from local eateries, artisan goods, and more, The Dog Eared Page opened in 2021, providing a cozy literary escape for area bookworms. The shop hosts book club meetings, author signings, and pop-up sales. 

Eleanor’s – Norfolk

Credit: @eleanorsnfk on Instagram

Eleanor’s, better known as “your intersectional feminist bookstore and bottle shop,” hosts monthly book club meetings, slow flow yoga classes, and local pop-up shops on their porch. Proving just how customer-minded it really is, the shop also has a period and personal care pantry available to the public, and serves as a safe space for those involved in community activism. It goes without saying that Eleanor’s also has a fantastic, wide-ranging book selection!

Fountain Bookstore – Richmond

Credit: @fountainbookstore on Instagram

Located on East Cary Street, this store exists to “create experiences of joy, discovery, laughter, and connection in person and online.” We love it when community bookstores want to cultivate connections with people, and Fountain Bookstore is no exception to that, especially when its booksellers get into discussions with you about what their favorite reads are. Fountain also hosts more author events than any other place in the commonwealth!

Harambee books – Alexandria

Credit: @harambeebooks_artworks on Instagram

Not only does Harambee carry books, but you can also find a selection of exclusive artwork and fashion in Old Town Alexandria. The name “Harambee” is Swahili for “working together,” and the store features works by people of African descent and about African culture. The store also fosters a sense of community by providing educational resources and community-based events to help people improve their literacy skills through education and empowerment. Harambee was originally conceived to achieve a mission of “literacy education as a fundamental human right for all.”

New Dominion Bookshop – Charlottesville

The New Dominion Bookshop Rose Garden
Credit: @new_dominion_bookshop on Instagram

Not only does this charming bookshop feature a wonderful selection of curated books, but it’s also the oldest independent bookshop in Virginia. Although New Dominion has been located on Main Street since 1990, but was previously at other locations on Main Street and in the Downtown Mall area, its status as  a community treasure goes back to 1924. New Dominion also has a special hidden gem: a rose garden that offers a quiet place to hide away and read. On the first Friday of every month, emerging writers come together for Friday Night Writes and perform their poetry, short stories, and music with a friendly group of faces.

One More Page – Arlington

Credit: @onemorepagebooks on Instagram

What’s not to love about a store owned by folks who take books, chocolate, and wine more seriously than they take themselves? One More Page has been around in Arlington since 2011, offering a curated selection of books, wine, and yes, even chocolate. Have you tried to pair a book with some chocolate? The staff can help you find the perfect match. Need we say more?

Riverby Books – Fredericksburg

Credit: @riverbybooksfxbg on Instagram

This “surprisingly big used bookstore”—as its Instagram states—is for people who have an excellent sense of humor, love digging into old books, and appreciate the coziness of reading in window nooks. Riverby also has its own frisbee club! The shop also features its own book bindery on-site, where staffers don’t judge books by their covers. If you’re lucky,  they’ll have their “puncils” for sale the day you stop by.

Your Local Library System’s Book Sales

Credit: @jmrlib on Instagram

Even though local library system books sales are annual events and not actually a bookstore, they’re still some of our favorite places to find good reads. Many times, you can often find great deals while shopping at library book sales, which can feature a broad selection of books that are waiting to be flipped through. Library book sales are a book lover’s dream!