In what might possibly be the most “me” post ever, I’m sharing a list of the best bookstores in San Diego.
There’s just no place quite like San Diego, is there?
What San Diego lacks in infrastructure, it makes up for in flawless beaches, nearly-perfect weather, and tons of gorgeous areas to explore, both on the coast and inland. I just love it here.
What I also love is the small business scene. It seems like our “restaurants to try” list is constantly growing despite our efforts to try something new every date night. There’s at least ten breweries I still need to visit, and I love our little family coffee shop outings each weekend.
As if that wasn’t enough, San Diego also boasts a great lineup of independent bookstores.
It will come as a surprise to exactly no one that one of my very favorite pastimes is perusing a bookstore with an iced coffee in hand. And while my two tiny assistants have made this activity slightly less relaxing in recent years, I still love to do it.
Wandering a local bookstore is also one of my favorite things to do when I travel. I feel like you can learn so much about a city by visiting its bookstores. Also, a book is the very best type of souvenir. I also ask for a stamp for the inside cover!
One of the best ways to foster a love of reading is to be surrounded by books. Nothing gets me in the mood to read more than staring at a table full of staff recommendations. I think this concept applies equally to both kids and adults. SO, we venture to bookstores as much as we can. We don’t always let the girls bring one home, but we do sometimes.
I’m of the mind that money spent on books is money very well spent. While checking books out at the local library or even ordering on Amazon is more economical, I do like to patronize our local bookstores when I can (especially if I am buying a book as a gift for someone!). Bookstores do such important work in creating that sense of reading magic in people of all ages. They are crucial to society, if you ask me. Also, many of the spots on this list are used bookstores, and what could be more economical than that?
In today’s list, I’m sharing a roundup of San Diego bookstores that sell new, used, or even rare books.
Located in the heart of La Jolla village, Warwick’s is the oldest continuously family-owned and operated bookstore in the entire country (!!). Warwick’s has a wonderfully curated selection of books of every genre. They also frequently host author signings and events both at their store location (never forget my starstruck moment with Elin Hildebrand last summer!) and in collaboration with bigger organizations around the county (for example, last year they helped host Taylor Jenkins Reid at USD in September). We absolutely love Warwick’s and try to make it over at least once a week. The girls LOVE the children’s section, and Tyler has spent *quite* a bit of time recently scouring their thriller/suspense area. You can find me tucked away in the general fiction section, of course, usually suffering over a stack of books that I can’t seem to narrow down.
Address: 7812 Girard Ave, La Jolla, CA 92037
Diesel is another family favorite and book lover’s dream. Apparently, there used to be a Barnes & Noble at the same location before they renovated the shopping center five years ago. Losing Barnes & Noble was a loss to the community, but the developers had promised to bring in a new bookstore following the renovations. I thought this was a great little story and a win for independent book sellers! The children’s section is SO cute, and they do storytime every Sunday at 10:30am. I love the “staff recommends” section too. Diesel has the cutest rotating behind-the-counter displays, always color-coordinated and very much on trend.
Address: 12843 El Camino Real Suite 104, San Diego, CA 92130
Opened in 2016, La Playa Books is a new, used, and rare bookstore that serves the community of Point Loma. This cozy “pop and daughter” spot on Rosecrans sells about 80% used and 20% new books and has a beautifully diverse selection. La Playa is your quintessential cozy used bookstore, and the staff is wonderful.
Address: 1026 Rosecrans St, San Diego, CA 92106
Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore has been open since 1992 and specializes in science fiction, fantasy, mystery, young adult, romance, and horror. And while these aren’t necessarily my favorite genres (the general fiction end cap holds about as many books as are currently stacked on my nightstand), it’s a really fun, unique bookstore. And if you ARE into any of those genres, then add this place to your bucket list asap.
Address: 3555 Rosecrans St Suite 107, San Diego, CA 92110
When I was researching for this post, I nearly fainted when I read the story behind The Book Catapult in South Park. Seth Marko, the owner, was working at a local bookstore when he decided to launch a blog called The Book Catapult. The blog took off, and he remained in the SD bookstore industry until he and his wife decided to launch their own store, also named The Book Catapult. SO COOL, right? Located a few blocks away from my favorite-ever Communal Coffee, The Book Catapult is the perfect spot to spend a slow Saturday morning.
Address: 3010-b Juniper St, San Diego, CA 92104
Bluestocking Books of Hillcrest has a solid selection of used (and some new!) books in a ton of genres. This store is grungy-in-a-good-way and feels like one of those places that will be around forever. In fact, the location itself has housed bookstores since 1967. We had a lovely chat with the woman working there, and the girls were very pleased to find a selection of Little Golden Books to choose from in the children’s area. I read on their website that Bluestocking Books hosts a continuous Baby Book Drive and gives donated children’s books to the NICU at UCSD for mothers to read to their babies while they are being cared for (yes, I did tear up when I read this, lol).
Address: 3817 Fifth Ave, San Diego, CA 92103
Verbatim is kind of iconic here in San Diego, and it’s by far the most “Instagrammable” bookstore in the area. It’s also the largest, boasting a collection of over 35,000 used books. In recent years, they’ve started building out their new title offering too. Verbatim also has a great local author program. Between its unique selection and creative displays, Verbatim is a must-visit for any local reader.
Address: 3793 30th St, San Diego, CA 92104
I absolutely love Bay Books and try to finagle a stop anytime we are in Coronado. Bay Books has served the San Diego and Coronado community for over 20 years, and they also have a location in the airport (so convenient!). Bay Books has an extensive military history section in support of the military bases here in the county.
Address: 1007 Orange Ave, Coronado, CA 92118
Meet Cute, whose decor is just as adorable as the name, is a *romance* bookstore in North Park. Meet Cute just opened last year and carries nearly every kind of romance novel you can think of–and some that you’ve probably never heard of, too. The owner Becca is a former immigration defense lawyer who has lived all over the US before retiring here in San Diego to open Meet Cute. (Don’t be fooled by that bio, though–she’s only 30! BRB, going to find something important to do with my life). Meet Cute hosts author events and signings and just launched their own podcast.
Address: 4048 30th St, San Diego, CA 92104
Another used bookstore that feels like home, D.G. Wills has a huge selection of new, used, rare, and vintage books in their homey shop on Girard Avenue in La Jolla. D.G. Wills is very involved in the academic community here in San Diego and hosts lectures and author events on various topics like Shakespeare and the war in Ukraine.
Address: 7461 Girard Ave, La Jolla, CA 92037
Feeling bookish? Check out my bookshelf page for mood-based book recommendations and all of my quarterly reading roundups.
And if you’re visiting San Diego, check out the rest of my local guides here.
It’s a pre-weekend pick me up: just a little note with links to the latest blog posts, what I’m reading lately, and products I’m obsessed with. Think of it as a friend dropping off a surprise latte in the morning--you know?
Ok I need to get working on this list!! Meet cute Saturday morn????
Okay everything about the journey of getting to this post and the list itself, flawless and very Ruth. I so appreciated your honesty and openness in this weeks newsletter! You are a wonderful writer and I would totally buy your books! Keep killin the you game girl. I love your stuff.
This is SO sweet, Tati, thank you!!! Appreciate your words and support so much!!
Ok ok ok Meet Cute – I had no idea!! Visiting immediately xo
I know right!? We went this morning–it is SO CUTE