The shelves at Whitty Books are full of interesting finds. photo by Madison Walters

Best local bookstores in Tulsa

If you’re looking for local bookstores to support in Tulsa, then look no further because here is a definitive list by a fellow reader.

One local bookstore that I cannot get enough of is Whitty Books. Firstly, I would be remiss to not address the decor of the bookstore. Visually striking paintings and portraits line the walls of this enchanting store. Whitty Books has a wonderful atmosphere with very friendly staff. My favorite thing about this store is the frequently changing themed display shelf near the front of the store. For example, when I went last, the shelf’s theme was gothic/horror written by women. Browsing this shelf, I found quite a few books that piqued my interest. I ended up buying “The Need” by Helen Phillips and “Cradleland of Parasites” by Sara Tantlinger, the former of which I have recently just started, and it definitely earns its place in the horror/gothic genre. Whitty supports smaller publishing houses, which definitely adds diversity to their inventory. Most of the paintings deal with a darker nature of art; however, this just adds to the atmosphere of the store. Also, I should mention that the owner, Victoria, will order books for you, so if you need books for classes, I highly recommend supporting a local bookstore rather than a multi-billion dollar company like Amazon. Whitty Books is only about a mile away from campus.

Another bookstore I enjoy visiting is Gardner’s Used Books and Music. If you’re looking for a store that sells used and discounted books, then look no further, because Gardner’s is sure to have something for everyone. I will say that Gardner’s might not be the place for you if you’re looking for a specific book; it’s a store that’s better for browsing for hidden treasures, rather than a specific item. However, Gardner’s is probably the biggest bookstore in Tulsa, measuring at a whopping 23,000 feet of books, music and movies. Pop culture runs wild in Gardner’s as there are multiple statues of pop culture characters. The best example of this is the life-size statue of the Incredible Hulk that guards the entrance to the store. If you’re looking to get rid of some used books, then venture to Gardner’s as they will offer store credit if you trade in your used books. Gardner’s Books and Music is only seven miles away from campus.

Next up, we have Magic City Books, a thriving indie bookstore and another personal favorite of mine. Complete with literature and pop culture merchandise, this store is a “do not miss” when in Downtown Tulsa. Magic City Books also has a small cafe area that, I’ve been told, has amazing hot chocolate. One of my favorite things about Magic City Books are their book events; they host a plethora of events that feature literary giants. For example, past events include discussions with Stephen King, Stacey Abrams, Neil Gaiman, Margaret Atwood, Erik Larson and Erin Morgenstern. I’ve attended a few events, and they are always a great time. Magic City Books is about four miles away from campus.

I recently visited Fulton Street Books and Coffee for the first time, and I regret not going sooner. Fulton Street is a black-owned bookstore, and it’s the only black-owned bookstore in Tulsa. The atmosphere of this store is so calm and relaxed. I just wanted to browse the shelves for hours. My favorite thing about this store is that the majority of the books they sell are written by or feature BIPOC, or Black or indigenous people of color, characters and/or marginalized communities and voices. I found too many books that piqued my interest before I narrowed it down to two; I ended up purchasing “The Secret Lives of the Church Ladies” and “The Stonewall Reader,” the latter of which I picked from interim president Janet Levit’s sponsored shelf. Fulton Street Books and Coffee made national news last year during the Black Lives Matter protests as they sold Ally Boxes that contained resources on racism and activism. I can not even begin to describe how much I enjoyed my experience at Fulton Street Books and Coffee. The staff was super helpful and were more than willing to give recommendations. Fulton Street Books and Coffee, as the name suggests, also has a cafe. I, unfortunately, didn’t stop in to the adjoining coffee shop; however, from all the reviews I’ve heard, the cafe sounds delicious. Having now seen their online menu, I wish I would have made the extra time to stop in their cafe. Fulton Street Books and Coffee is only about four miles away from campus.

Lastly, I would like to give a shoutout to Eleanor’s Bookshop. I have never visited this bookstore before, but I wholeheartedly support their mission in creating a space for children where everyone can find a book that they see themselves in. So, if you’re looking for a children’s bookshop, then head over to Eleanor’s Bookshop because they are sure to have something for everyone. Eleanor’s Bookshop is less than a mile from campus.

As Neil Gaiman once said, “Tulsa has been, ever since I was 19, the place in America that reeked of literary magic.” I couldn’t agree more with his sentiments. Tulsa has many delightful bookstores. If you have some free time soon, then head to one of these nearby bookstores, where I’m sure you’ll find a book or two that you cannot leave without.

Fulton Street has beautiful artwork on the side of the building that is certainly worth a visit. photo by Madison Walters tucollegian | Collegian

Post Author: Madison Walters