When it comes to shops around Providence, most of us know about restaurants, cafés, and thrift stores. But how many local bookstores have you been to? (The Brown Bookstore doesn’t count.) Here in PVD, there is an amazing selection of independent bookstores with unique themes and beautiful decor. Take this quiz to see which you should visit next weekend to bring home some new books!
1. What library do you usually study at?
a) I don’t study in libraries: I prefer prettier places like Rhode Island Hall, Leung Family Gallery, etc.
b) The Hay: I love how fancy and majestic it looks!
c) The SciLi: The brutalist design and intense environment—being surrounded by stressed CS majors—really force me to focus.
d) The Rock: How could you say no to such a classic college library?
2. Which book is on your to-read list?
a) Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado: Contemporary feminist literature is my type of beat.
b) Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides: I’ve got to read this Pulitzer-winning novel by an alumni author!
c) Dune by Frank Herbert: Sci-fi and epic adventure stories are so exciting to me.
d) Emma by Jane Austen: I am a classics lover at heart.
3. Which dining hall would you go to on a Wednesday evening?
a) VDub: I’m willing to make the trek for a Shawarma bowl and the classic dining hall vibe.
b) Andrews: It’s quick, convenient, and has predictable options.
c) Ivy Room: I like that it always serves smoothies—I come up with a different combination every week.
d) Ratty: It’s big, it’s got options, and it’s where I see most of my friends.
4. What genre of music do you listen to?
a) Bedroom Pop: I love soft girl music—I’m always chilling to Men I Trust and Clairo.
b) Indie Pop: This label is cringey but I love artists like boygenius and Kevin Abstract (and all other former BROCKHAMPTON members, of course).
c) Shoegaze: You’ll see me listening to depressing music like Have A Nice Life and Slowdive while I study.
d) Rap: I love hype music that gets me going—Kendrick Lamar and King Von are some faves.
5. Where would you go for a Saturday afternoon off campus?
a) Thrifting: Whether it’s the Savers nearby or the more pricey Urban Thread, I enjoy digging for gems in a nearby thrift store.
b) RISD Museum: A free afternoon surrounded by beautiful art sounds ideal to me.
c) India Point Park: I love to go on walks to reconnect with nature.
d) Coffee Shops: I’d hop on the RIPTA to try out all the cute cafés around Providence!
If you picked mostly A: Twenty Stories
This indie bookstore is run by two owners who hand-pick 20 books to highlight for the month and is only a 15-minute walk from Grad Center—right across from Kow Kow! They have a diverse, carefully-curated collection of contemporary literature, though you can also find children’s books and nonfiction. The owners are extremely knowledgeable and have read most of the titles they sell—I highly recommend striking up a conversation with them!
If you picked mostly B: Symposium Books
Symposium is your typical indie bookstore—it’s got beautiful decorations, a great variety of books, and comfy chairs for you to sit on while you read. It’s downtown near Kennedy Plaza, so you can make an afternoon of your trip by visiting nearby thrift shops and cafés (I love Small Point Coffee).
If you picked mostly C: Lovecraft Arts & Science
Did you know that H.P. Lovecraft was from Providence? This eerie bookstore celebrates all kinds of “weird fiction,” including sci-fi, horror, and fantasy. Don’t be intimidated by the huge statue of Medusa staring you down—the workers are always up for a conversation!
If you picked mostly D: Books on the Square
Books on the Square is the kind of local bookstore you wish you could grow up in—it is family and dog-friendly, sells Jellycat stuffed animals, and hosts author events. It is a classic local independent bookstore in every way—there are soft carpeted floors and customers who have visited for decades. It’s only 20 minutes away at Wayland Square, so I recommend taking a nice walk over there with friends!