In the latest in our series on bookshops around the world that academics should visit, Jeff Roquen, a PhD candidate in the Department of History at Lehigh University, shares his favourite bookshops in Madison, Wisconsin, USA. If there’s a bookshop that you think other students and academics should visit when they’re undertaking research or visiting a city for a conference, find more information about contributing below.
At the height of independent bookselling in the early 1990s, the town of Madison, Wisconsin had the little-known distinction of having the largest number of independent bookshops per capita in the United States. Madison is not only the site of the State Capitol but it also contains all 43,000 students from the flagship state university. As an institution with top doctoral programs in the humanities, the University of Wisconsin (UW) infuses the area with progressive thinking and sustains an environment of voracious reading and cheap book-buying.
Despite the decline of the retail book trade due to online competition, Madison still boasts a number of well-run independent bookshops. Three blocks from the State Capitol building – which was designed as a replica of the US Capitol in Washington, DC – Avol’s Books (315 W. Gorham Street) offers thousands of new and used titles in a literary atmosphere.
State Street is the heart of Madison. One can easily walk from the centre of the UW campus to the State Capitol or the edge of Lake Mendota to Lake Monona in less than fifteen minutes. Aside from two outstanding independent coffee shops (Espresso Royale and Steep & Brew), State Street is also home to Paul’s Books (670 State Street). After more than half a century in business, Paul’s remains a cozy space to search for used and out-of-print books.
In all, Madison is a unique enclave of culture and thought that celebrates the printed word daily – an American treasure not to be missed.
Jeff Roquen is an independent writer and a PhD candidate in the Department of History at Lehigh University (Pennsylvania, USA). Read more reviews by Jeff.
Do you have a favourite bookshop? If there’s a bookshop that you think other students and academics should visit when they’re undertaking research or visiting a city for a conference, then now’s your chance to tell us all about it.
As part of a new weekly feature on LSE Review of Books, we’re asking academics and students to recommend their favourite two or three bookshops in a particular city, with the aim of building an exciting online series for our book-loving community of readers the world over.
Bookshops could be academic, alternative, foreign language, hobby-based, secret or underground institutions, second hand outlets, or connected to a university. We’d like to cover all world regions too.
If something comes to mind, we’re looking for around 100 words per bookshop, detailing why this place is a must-see. Our editorial team can then find suitable photos and links to accompany the piece, though you’re welcome to supply these too. We only ask that you focus on just one city or region, and two or three bookshops within it.
Email us now if you’d like to contribute: firstname.lastname@example.org