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A Guide to Bookstores in Essex County

by Jordan and Joelle Hernandez
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Independently owned bookstores can offer a special peek inside the culture of the city or county in which it is located. Each store has a unique take on the books they offer while still carrying classics in popular genres such as biographies, self-help, fantasy, historical fiction, and more. Essex County is home to several bookstores each with its own flair. We’ve rounded up the bookstores in the Essex County area that are must-visits. 

Ant Bookstore and Café {345 Clifton Avenue, Clifton}

Ant Bookstore and Café

{Photo credit: @antbookstore}

Reading books with a good snack or beverage is a winning combination. Ant Bookstore and Café has the best offering of both. Breakfast, lunch, coffee, and cold drinks are served daily alongside the bookstore. Grab a book inside and head out to the open patio for a socially distant safe morning or afternoon. Books and food can both be ordered online for pick up in-store. 

Café Word Bookstore {108 West South Orange Avenue, South Orange}

Café Word Bookstore is a spiritual-based book and gift shop in South Orange. The store hosts an array of options for those looking for religious-based books, journals, devotionals, and more. 

Montclair Book Center {221 Glenridge Avenue, Montclair}

Montclair Book Center

The Montclair Book Centers has been a staple in downtown Montclair for quite some time. While some accommodations have been made to in-store browsing due to the pandemic, this iconic location is still in full operation. Despite humble beginnings, the store now boasts three levels and two stores filled with a diverse offering of genres including both new and used books. Although its name suggests only books, vinyl records, journals, tarot cards, puzzles, and more can be found here. 

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Source of Knowledge Bookstore {867 Broad Street, Newark}

Source of Knowledge Bookstore

{Photo credit: @bookshop_org}

Books can bring readers to anywhere in the world. Source of Knowledge Bookstore is an African-Caribbean family-owned bookstore carrying written by and about people of African descent. In addition to traditional genres seen in most bookstores, Source of Knowledge has an array of African art, drums, and Shona stones. Guests can visit to get the latest in literature or stop by the community center for yoga, lectures, parties, and more. 

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The Book House {281 Essex Street, Millburn}

The Book House

{Photo credit: The Book House}

Every bookstore offers something unique. The Book-House is one of the only to offer a ‘book tasting’, a special event where friends can gather and a book expert from The Book House will share a curated list of suggested books to choose from. Members of the tasting receive a special discount off of presented books. For those that want a curated experience at home, The Book House offers a subscription service of monthly books. 

Watchung Booksellers {54 Fairfield Street, Montclair}

Watchung Booksellers

{Photo credit: @watchungbooksellers}

A unique bookstore to reflect the unique community this bookstore calls home. Watchung booksellers is in the heart of Montclair with a large offering of all types of books hand-selected by staff and readers. From books on travel to education and biographies to fiction, visitors can fulfill their literary needs. For those not sure what they are looking for, their expert staff shares over 70 years’ worth of knowledge combined and is always happy to help. 

Word’s Maplewood Bookstore {179 Maplewood Avenue, Maplewood}

Word’s Maplewood Bookstore

{Photo credit: Word’s Maplewood Bookstore}

Word’s is dedicated to its mission of inclusion. This can be seen in the selection of books offered, but also with the staff. Word has hired over 100 young people with autism as part of their vocational training program. The mission of this bookstore has been recognized by others and even awarded. In 2018, Word was named a Best Bookstore by Millburn + Short Hills Magazine. 

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