There are tons of independent bookstores in and near Bushwick where you can pick up your next summer read. Browsing the shelves at these six shops, you’ll find a cozy atmosphere, hidden literary gems and sometimes even a coffee bar—all while supporting a local business.

Mil Mundos, 323 Linden St.

The bilingual bookstore, founded and co-owned by Cuban-American and New York City native Maria Herron, opened in 2019. It is a bookstore as much as it is a community center, offering Spanish lessons and mutual aid events for the neighborhood.

Over the pandemic, volunteers and staff at Mil Mundos rose up to address the needs of the community, distributing food and supplies to hundreds of families.

Consider supporting Mil Mundos and get a book (in English or Spanish!) while you’re at it.

Mil Mundos offers not only mutual aid and Spanish lessons, but an assortment of books in English and Spanish. (Paige Cromley)

And if you’re looking to improve your Spanish, whether you’re completely new to the language or grew up surrounded by it but never perfected it, Mil Mundos offers private lessons and courses ranging from 6 to 10-week sessions for people at all levels.

Call before you visit, as their hours can vary.

Molasses Books, 770 Hart St.

A great workspace where you can buy and trade used books, Molasses Books has been a community staple for years. Although the pandemic closed its indoor seating and iconic bar for a time, the used bookstore has continued to serve the neighborhood with its own poetry books, zines and small collection of novels.

These days, indoor seating, including bar searing in the back of the shop, has reopened; you can enjoy coffee, beer, or wine there until 8 p.m. For those unafraid of the heat, there’s also an outdoor patio where you can sit, sip coffee and read.

Anna Leah, a filmmaker and New York native who has lived in Bushwick since 2009, sees Molasses as “a place far from ordinary” that she frequents “in part because it’s where people go that need to be around books for their souls.”

As of July 10, patrons are welcome to hang out until “at least midnight” on Fridays and Saturdays.

Molasses offers indoor and outdoor seating, coffee, and beer and wine in the evening. (Nicole Allen Viana)

Topos Bookstore, 788 Woodward Ave.

The cafe-bookstore duo, which was opened by Benjamin Friedman, Cosmo Bjorkenheim and Anny Oberlink in 2015, carries an impressive selection of mostly used (and some new!) books including philosophy, French literature, and a growing collection of Black and feminist writers.

Located in Ridgewood, the inviting space is open but cozy, with Christmas lights hanging on the back wall. You can buy more than your next favorite novel here—they also offer a range of local press projects, totes with their recognizable Cheshire Cat logo and cups of Variety Coffee.

Topos offers ambiance, Variety coffee AND a variety of titles. (Paige Cromley)

Human Relations, 1067 Flushing Ave.

If you’re walking down Flushing Avenue, Human Relations will catch your eye—either because of the white awning adorned with the word “book” in various languages or the communist symbols on the windows.

Another beloved independent bookstore in the neighborhood, Human Relations is self-described on its website as a “joint venture of some hopeful, fresh-faced youth and the jaded, scowling he-crones of Williamsburg’s Book Thug Nation.”

With a plethora of political literature and philosophy, shelves stuffed with books and a friendly staff, this shop is sure to make any reader feel at home.

Among its wide selection, Human Relations offers a variety of fiction and nonfiction books in a variety of areas. (Nicole Allen Viana)

Better Read Than Dead, 867 Broadway

Tucked away under the M train, Better Read Than Dead is a snug haven for readers looking to browse an eclectic assortment of titles. 

Richy Rivera Gonzalez, a Bushwick native, told Brooklyn Mag, “I’m gonna keep it real, since they opened this bookstore, I don’t go anywhere but here,” he says. “The only thing I ever bought at Barnes & Noble was the WWE Encyclopedia with John Cena. But they got classic books here. That’s why I come to this store.”

One of three Better Read Than Dead locations, the shop in Punk Alley sits across from Rebel Rouser, a go-to for rock n’ roll vinyls. The other, newer locations are 90 Kosciuszko and 151 Atlantic and share spaces with Burly Coffee and A Novel Kitchen, respectively.

The unorthodox bookstore sits nestled in an alleyway. (Paige Cromley)

House of Speakeasy’s Bookmobile, Myrtle-Wyckoff

Prospective book buyers line up in front of House of Speakeasy’s Bookmobile. (Image courtesy of House of Speakeasy website)

If you don’t have time to check out these bookshops but are still looking to browse some shelves, the literary nonprofit’s Bookmobile will be parked at Myrtle-Wyckoff on July 14 and 28th. You’ll see it right as you exit the subway.

Top image of Julia Catacutan, Human Relations employee and NYU student. Photo by Nicole Allen Viana.

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