Bookish: The Indie Shop for Folks Who Read

Jasmine Washington

Nestled in the historical downtown of Fort Smith is a little independent book store. With two locations downtown, Bookish has succeeded as a locally owned bookstore by becoming a place of comfort and security for those who read. The locations of Bookish are located around either a restaurant or a coffee shop, the perfect accessory to a good book.

I recently went into a Bookish store over the weekend, and it was an incredible experience. With books scattered around every surface, comfortable chairs in front of the large window, and a sweet grey cat walking around, it feels like walking into the most loving home. The first thing I found really nice about this bookstore was the local author’s section it had. This section featured authors who had published books in Fort Smith, in genres from thrillers to classic contemporary stories. There was even a book from a student at UAFS, which was a true crime story based in Texas.

The bookstore also had sections for nonfiction readers and novellas – something I feel like is never shown enough in bookstores. There were so many interesting books to choose from, all of them depending on the type of reader an individual is. With the added sound of the cat’s meowing in the background, it was hard not to enjoy myself in the short time that I was there. In the back of the bookstore are a section about more recent novels, LGBTQ+ stories, and popular dystopian series. It was incredibly hard just to choose one book! With authors from all over the world and stories about so many different places, it won’t be hard for someone to find a book that they’ll fall in love with.

Though I didn’t venture to this part of the store, there was a room next to the cornered bookshelves that seemed like a mix of an office and a shopping area. Books filled the shelves behind the desk and chairs sat in the room waiting for customers. A bathroom was also available for both humans and the grey cat.

Another really unique aspect of this store was the “blind date-a-book” section in the front. If you’re unaware of what this is, it’s a thing that a lot of urban bookstores have become accustomed to. A book’s cover is completely wrapped up or hidden, and then there are some words written on the front to describe to you what the book is about. Things like the genre, the main idea of the novel, and something about the main character is included in this description. I always love seeing these things in bookstores because it’s an incredibly fun experience to get a book without judging the cover first. It reminds people that we shouldn’t always view the outside of things and make our opinion based on that. What’s on the inside is the true prize.

Next to the checkout desk in the front of the store is another wall of bookshelves. If you’re into trends and following them, this is probably the section for you. I noticed a lot of books on these shelves that had just been released two months prior. There were also a lot of self-discovery novels for readers who are hoping for more inspiration throughout their day. There were even some autobiographies of famous people and the things that happened in their life that made them the person they are today. It’s an incredibly great section to check out if you’re unsure about what to be reading. 

As for the staff of Bookish, they were amazing! The woman who was running the store while I attended it was incredibly kind and very patient. She fit into the warm atmosphere of the bookstore perfectly, and it made the experience a lot better than it already was. 

If you’ve been searching for your next favorite book (or you just need one for school), I highly recommend Bookish. It’s a locally owned business, which means you’re likely to get a great connection with the people around you and meet people who are willing to help in seconds. The store is incredibly inviting, and there are so many different genres to choose from. I also highly recommend trying out the “date-a-book” section in this store. You’ll get the amazing experience of finding a book you love for the story inside of it and the cover as well.

So if you have time, check out this bookstore. With the great selection of books at your fingertips, it definitely will not be a waste of your time. Plus…the bags that your books come in are incredibly adorable!