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2022’s best cities for book lovers
Submitted by Sav Maive
August 2, 2022

best book cities

Having fun isn’t hard when you’ve got a library card, but in many cities, libraries aren’t the only places to find good reads.

So which literary destinations should bibliophiles consider when planning their next reading adventure?

To (book)mark National Family Literacy Month, Lawn Love ranked 2022’s Best Cities for Book Lovers.

We compared the 200 biggest U.S. cities based on access to public libraries, bookstores, Little Free Libraries, book clubs, and events.

We also looked for cities with the most books “in the wild,” random reads picked up by random bookworms who can track the books’ journey and engage with other bibliophiles on BookCrossing.

Use our rankings, in-depth analysis, and expert insights to help you book your next literary trip.

City rankings

See how each city fared in our ranking:

2022’s Best Cities for Book Lovers

best cities for book lovers
Note: Although 200 cities were ranked in this study, the lowest-ranking position for some metrics shown in the infographic may not be 200 due to ties among cities.

Results in depth

Stories of SoCal

Readers in Southern California must have a voracious (literary) appetite. Pasadena takes first place in our overall ranking, thanks to the city’s high marks in Books for Sale (No. 2) and Book Swaps (No. 9).

With plenty of literary events, book lovers in Pasadena can take a break from perusing the city’s many independent and used bookstores and escape to annual events, such as LitFest and the Pasadena Loves YA teen book festival.

Three other cities within an hour’s drive from Pasadena made our top 20. Garden Grove (No. 8) placed third in the Books for Sale category. Torrance landed at No. 15 and Fullerton at No. 20. Both cities ranked high — sixth and seventh, respectively — in Books for Sale.

Local tip: Make sure to visit Vroman’s Bookstore, the oldest independent bookstore in SoCal.

Sleepless (and well read) in Seattle

Cuddling up with a coffee and a good book go hand in hand in the PNW, so it may not surprise you to see Seattle at No. 2 overall, especially considering it’s a UNESCO-designated City of Literature with its very own Civic Poet.

Not only does Seattle have an abundance of Book Swaps (No. 3) and Books for Sale (No. 9), but it’s also the leading city in our ranking for literary events per capita.

Two of Seattle’s southern neighbors followed closely behind in the ranking, Eugene (No. 4) and Portland, Oregon (No. 6). Eugene scored well in Events (No. 3) and Books for Sale (No. 4). Portland is home to even more Events (No. 2) and plenty of Book Swaps (No. 7).

All stacked up in the Mid-Atlantic

Step aside, Joe Goldberg. Book lovers are headed to Jersey City, New Jersey (No. 3) — not New York City (No. 5) — for their reading needs.

Jersey City is the biggest threat to Amazon, ranking No. 1 for the most independent bookstores per 100,000 residents, so Jeff Bezos better watch out, too.

Every other year, Jersey City honors its own Poet Laureate who gives back to the community through their work and public events.

While New York City offers fewer bookstores per capita, locals love their libraries and fellow bibliophiles, placing first in both the Book Rentals and Community categories.

New York has plenty of literary sights to see, including Central Park’s Literary Walk, the Edgar Allen Poe Cottage, and Logos Bookstore — the actual bookstore where “You” was filmed. You can even take a literary pub crawl to get a taste of the books and brews that are conjured up in The City That Never Sleeps. Need some peace and quiet? Tour one of nearly 100 branches of the New York Public Library.

Unhooked on phonics

Two Nevada cities near Las Vegas — Sunrise Manor (No. 200) and Enterprise (No. 198) — ended up at the bottom of our ranking due to poor performance across all categories.

A bad reading atmosphere also sent Joliet, Illinois (No. 199), Olathe, Kansas (No. 197), and Corpus Christi, Texas (No. 196), to the depths of our ranking. Only Corpus Christi managed to land in the upper half of Book Rentals for wider access to public libraries.

These cities are all on the smaller side, so their residents might not have as many literary pursuits. Some might argue that local bookworms just haven’t found the right genre yet, or maybe they’re just lost in their reading?

Expert take

Whether you’re a fan of poetry, sci-fi, or even graphic novels, there are plenty of books out there waiting to be read. We turned to some bibliophiles for insight into the best ways to fall in love with reading. See what they had to say below.

1. What are the three biggest benefits of reading books?

2. What are the best strategies for parents to get children into reading?

3. How have new ways of reading, such as using e-readers or listening to an audiobook on the way to work, changed readership rates?

4. Do you have three or four tips for people who want to get back into reading regularly?

5. Some people struggle to read books because they don’t know what genres they enjoy or what genres are available. What’s the best way to discover one’s favorite genre(s)?

6. How can avid readers keep up with the constant influx of new books to read?

reading benefits
avid readers
biggest benefits of reading books


We ranked the 200 biggest U.S. cities from best to worst (1-200) based on their overall scores (out of 100 points), averaged across the weighted metrics listed below.

“Bookstore per 100,000 Residents” includes those within a five-mile radius of the city center.

Books for Sale

• Bookstores per 100,000 Residents (Weight: 3)
• Independent Bookstores per 100,000 Residents (Weight: 2)
• Used Bookstores per 100,000 Residents (Weight: 2)
• Thrift Stores per 100,000 Residents (Weight: 1)
• Antique and Rare Book Stores (Weight: 0.5)

Book Rentals

• Public Libraries (Weight: 3)

Book Swaps

• Little Free Libraries (Weight: 1)
• Books “In the Wild” per 100,000 Residents (Weight: 1)


• Book Clubs (Weight: 2)
• Silent Book Clubs (Weight: 1)


• Book Events and Festivals per 100,000 Residents (Weight: 2)


Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of America, BookCrossing, CareerOneStop, Everfest, IndieBound, Little Free Library, Meetup, Silent Book Club, and Yelp

Final words: Traveling through the pages

There are many ways to access books these days, through e-readers, audiobooks, or a good old-fashioned hardcover.

No matter your preference, reading alone or with your loved ones is a safe way to step out of the ordinary and into new worlds as the pandemic rages on.

If you’re getting tired of sitting at home, step outside the book and visit some of America’s top literary destinations:

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Visit the Edgar Allen Poe National Historic Site, where he wrote his famous short stories “The Tell-Tale Heart” and “The Fall of the House of Usher.”

Boston, Massachusetts: Explore Boston’s Literary District on foot with a literary walking tour, where you’ll learn about the lives of Emerson, Hawthorne, Alcott, Thoreau, Dickens, and Longfellow.

New Orleans, Louisiana: Stay the night at Hotel Monteleone where Hemingway, Faulkner, Tennessee Williams, and Eudora Welty each drank, slept, and wrote some of their most famous work. You can even peruse the stacks and find your next read in William Faulkner’s old house.

Chicago, Illinois: The Windy City has plenty of places to interest literary lovers of all kinds. Get a taste of everything by stopping by the American Writers Museum, the Poetry Foundation, and Newberry Library. You also can visit Carl Sandburg’s house and Hemingway’s birth home.

San Francisco, California: Home to many hotspots of the Beat Generation, San Fran is home to the Beat Museum, as well as the Beat writers’ frequented meeting spots, such as City Lights Bookstore and Vesuvio Cafe.

Washington, DC: Apart from the gigantic Library of Congress, the Capitol is also home to the Folger Shakespeare Library and Frederick Douglass’ home.

Share your love of reading with your community by setting up a Little Free Library in your front yard. You can attract more fellow bibliophiles to your Little Free Library by keeping your yard neat, healthy, and attractive, with help from Lawn Love’s lawn care and landscaping experts.


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