FIVE LEADING LITERARY CITIES (THAT AREN’T NEW YORK)

1. AUSTIN, TEXAS


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With its famous motto of “KEEP AUSTIN WEIRD”, it’s not surprising that Austin is a haven for writers. Not only are there a vast array of local coffee shops, but Austin is also home to UT-Austin’s Harry Ransom Center, an internationally renowned humanities research library and museum. Film screenings, poetry readings, and alternating exhibitions are some of the gems you can find at the Harry Ransom Center. Austin is also home to BookPeople, the indie-bookstore of a book nerd’s dreams.

2. ASHEVILLE, NORTH CAROLINA


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Asheville is for writers who aren’t enamored with a big city lifestyle but want to be in the middle of literary magic being made. The answer to this is Malaprop’s bookstore. The founder and owner offers this as her mission statement: “I wanted Malaprop’s to be a place where poetry matters, where women’s words are as important as men’s, where one is surprised by excellence, where good writing has a home, where I could nurture my addiction to literature, and play, enjoy, and entertain people drawn to quality books.” Honestly, that’s enough to make a trip. There’s also the Battery Park Book Exchange & Champagne Bar (books and champagne- need I say more?), a used bookstore where a love of wine, books, and coffee meet.

3. PORTLAND, MAINE


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Bet you thought I was going to say Oregon! Suspend your disbelief for a moment because this lesser-known Portland is home to the world-famous Salt Institute whose mission is to “educate and promote documentary storytellers”. Students flock from all over the world to SALT’s 14-week program of intensive field research, workshops, and seminars. SALT focuses on storytelling, cultural journalism, and oral-history among other forms of story-telling.

4. THE TWIN CITIES: Saint Paul, Minnesota and Minneapolis, Minnesota


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I know, I know, these are technically two cities but they’re universally known as the Twin Cities so I’ll put them together here. Plus, they’re only 12 miles apart which makes hopping from one to the other ridiculously easy. Not only is St. Paul the city that gave us F. Scott Fitzgerald but it hosts dozens of independent bookstores including Common Good Books. Minneapolis boasts the Hennepin County Library with 41 locations which contain over five million books, half of which live in the Minneapolis Central Library.

5. BELLINGHAM, WASHINGTON


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If you like rain, small towns, and the Pacific Northwest, Bellingham is for you. It’s only two hours from Seattle and has beautiful views of the Pacific Ocean and ample mountains. This town is practically made for writing inspiration. There’s also Village Books, a dreamy independent bookstore.



Contributing Editor


Fortesa Latifi is a 21-year old poet. Her first book, This Is How We Find Each Other was published through Where Are You Press in 2014. She hopes you find something good here. She knows you will.