Holiday shopping has officially kicked into gear. With the winter break ahead, now’s the time to find that perfect page-turner for the discerning word nerd in your life. Lucky for you, our fine city has no shortage of places where you can browse literary offerings, enjoy a thoughtfully made espresso drink or even catch a punk show or zine fest. Whether you’re shopping for an egghead English major, teen lit enthusiast or aging history buff, there’s a bookseller in Tulsa with the right title for your favorite bookworm.
Whitty Books (2407 E. Admiral Blvd.) is one of the city’s most eclectic and locally minded book shops in town. In little more than a year, this literary destination in the heart of the Kendall-Whittier District has become the go-to for oddball and mainstream releases alike.
"When we opened the store we knew we wanted to carry local authors and artwork," Whitty Books co-founder Victoria Moore told us last year. Now Moore and her team have built their humble shop into a creative space whose flavor and function is fiercely homegrown. You’ll find zines, graphic novels and poetry collections from all across Oklahoma, alongside literary giants and the day’s hottest titles.
Drop in and grab a copy of Destroyer by Victor LaValle (Boom! Studios, 2018), a graphic novel exploring the story of Frankenstein’s monster through the lens of contemporary social problems surrounding police brutality. LaValle’s inventive reimagining of a classic horror staple will pair nicely with the handsome new edition of Alan Moore’s Hugo Award-winning Watchmen (Random House/DC Comics, 2019)—which this year was given the series treatment at HBO, including an explosive debut depicting the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre.
Be sure to circle back early next year for a discussion of Moore’s seminal graphic novel during Whitty Books’ scifi/fantasy book club on Jan. 13.
Magic City Books (221 E. Archer St.) changed Tulsa’s literary landscape forever when it burst onto the scene in 2017. The retail arm of the nonprofit Tulsa Literary Coalition (TLC) umbrella—regularly hosting talks from literary giants like Salman Rushdie, Susan Orlean and Rachel Kushner—this cozy urban bookstore is now the epicenter of reading life in T-Town.
It was the vision of Jeff Martin and the late Cindy Hulsey that Magic City become a "third place" for locals looking for a space to connect with the written word. "Next to home and the workplace, the store functions as a safe haven that contains the entire world of ideas and experiences between the pages of books," Hulsey said upon launching the store.
Now Hulsey and Martin’s vision is a reality. Whether through author talks, book club meetings in the shop’s Algonquin Room or workshops and readings associated with the nonprofit’s Tulsa LitFest, Magic City Books is a lot more than a book shop. It’s a place where the hustle and bustle of everyday life makes way for thoughtful contemplation and the exchange of ideas.
Pick up a copy of Essays One by Lydia Davis (FSG, 2019), for indispensable insight into the mind of one of the most masterful short story writers of our time through the author’s first collection of essays, commentaries and lectures. If you’re looking for something with a little more everyday utility, be sure and pick up the new anniversary edition of Mark Bittman’s seminal How to Cook Everything: Simple Recipes for Great Food (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2019) to delight your favorite foodie this holiday season.
Gardner’s Books (4421 S. Mingo Rd.) is Tulsa’s largest bookstore, home to approximately 23,000 square feet of curated books, audio books, comics, music, visual media and more. The friendly, helpful and knowledgeable staff at this T-town institution will help you find just what you’re looking for—and they buy, sell and trade nearly every form of media imaginable.
The booksellers above are sure to have that perfect gift for the holidays, but they’re just the tip of the iceberg. Bound for Glory Books (4264 E. 11th St.), Peace of Mind (1401 E. 15th St.) and Decopolis (502 S. Boston Ave.) are a few other can’t-miss stops during your holiday shopping adventures. Happy reading!