We compared the 200 biggest U.S. cities based on five categories. We looked at access to bookstores, literary festivals, and Little Free Libraries, among 15 total metrics.
See the 10 best (and 10 worst) cities for book lovers below, followed by key stats from our report.
Best Cities for Book Lovers
New York, NY
San Francisco, CA
Los Angeles, CA
St. Paul, MN
St. Louis, MO
Worst Cities for Book Lovers
West Valley City, UT
Port St. Lucie, FL
North Las Vegas, NV
Bookworm empire: The City That Never Sleeps must stay up all night reading. With a 21-point lead ahead of the next city, New York turns the page as this year’s Best City for Book Lovers. NYC offers the most public libraries and antique and rare bookstores, giving residents access to all kinds of reading material. The Big Apple also boasts the most book clubs, book festivals, and literary landmarks.
Storied San Francisco: Home to the Beat Generation and the counterculture movement, San Francisco (No. 2) has long been a hub for intellectuals and creative types. The Golden City is full of reading nooks, with the most bookstores and independent bookstores per square mile. San Francisco also hosts the highest number of silent book clubs.
Studious Seattle: As one of only two UNESCO Cities of Literature in the U.S., Seattle (No. 3) is another haven for both writers and book lovers. Voracious readers in Seattle have access to the highest number of used bookstores and the third-highest number of independent bookstores, both per square mile. The Emerald City also hosted this year’s largest national book fair and gathering for the literati and has the second-highest number of silent book clubs.
Neighborhood novels:Little Free Libraries are popular in suburban areas like Rockford, Illinois (No. 75), which has the most Little Free Libraries per 100,000 residents, followed by California cities Orange (No. 41), Fullerton (No. 71), and Pomona (No. 66). The nonprofit’s headquarters is located in St. Paul, Minnesota (No. 8), which is No. 54 in Little Free Libraries per capita.
Capital chapters: Major cities in the Mid-Atlantic offer plenty of options for bibliophiles. Washington (No. 4) stacks up the second-highest number of independent bookstores and third-highest total number of bookstores, both per square mile. Washington also hosts the second-highest number of literary festivals. Baltimore (No. 9), has the eighth-highest number of public libraries, while Alexandria, Virginia (No. 18), has the most books “in the wild” per 100,000 residents.
Lit adventures: After New York, New Orleans (No. 26) has the second-highest number of literary landmarks, followed by Philadelphia (No. 13), Washington (No. 4), and Chicago (No. 6). New Orleans is home to historic sites like Hotel Monteleone, where famous authors like Tennessee Williams, Ernest Hemingway, and Anne Rice were known to drink, write, and slumber.