"Standing there, staring at the long shelves crammed with books, I felt myself relax and was suddenly at peace." -Helene Hanff
Have you ever heard of Independent Bookstore Day? It falls on the last Saturday in April every year, and this year we decided to go and support a local bookstore on Independent Bookstore Day! We each had a busy Saturday planned, so we looked at the hours of local stores and decided to visit Penguin Bookshop in Sewickley.
First off, let us just say that we were blown away by the website and how many events Penguin Bookshop hosts! I (Chelsea) wishes it was closer to home, because I would be going to as many events as possible! Second, Penguin Bookshop is located in the cutest little area. Beware though, we were only able to find street parking, but most of the street parking is within walking distance of the bookshop. After visiting the bookshop, be sure to check out other local businesses all along the main street. We did a lot of window gazing, and we stopped by a cute little doggie bakery, as well as stopped to grab smoothies to go. Honestly, it was a great morning!
On to what you came to read about - Penguin Bookshop. We will say the bookshop was a little smaller than what we had pictured from browsing the website, but don't let that discourage you. The Penguin Bookshop is FULL of books across a variety of genres. Plus, there are personal touches, such as recommendations by the staff all throughout the bookshop. The shop did highlight and have some of the more popular books that have been trending on social media platforms, but they also had books that we had never heard of before, and even books that have been around for some time. I (Kelli) think I walked through the shelves at least three times and each time found something I didn't the time before that intrigued me.
Of course we couldn't visit a bookshop without purchasing something! We each browsed the entire store, keeping an eye out for any books on our must read list. We have a tendency to shop for everything we want, and then make decisions at the end about what we can't leave the store without. This trip was no different, but we wanted to challenge ourselves and buy something that may not necessarily be our first choice.
Kelli decided upon Stephen King's The Outsider and Jennifer Weiner's Big Summer. Kelli has only had two books by Stephen King so far (It and Salem's Lot), and really enjoys his writing style and plots. There were quite a few Stephen King novels on the shelf but The Outsider is the one that stood out to her when she was reading the blurbs on the back of the books. As for Big Summer, Jennifer Weiner has been showing up quite often as a recommendation on #booktok for Kelli and, so far, every recommendation from #booktok has been an awesome read! There were a few of her books on the shelf, so again, Kelli had to read the blurbs to see which of them at that time stood out to her. That Summer was on the shelf, but Chelsea recently purchased that for Kelli already when she went to the bookstore in Ohio, so that was out. Kelli narrowed it down to Big Summer and Mrs. Everything with Big Summer just catching her attention a little more that day.
Chelsea had recently visited the bookstore in Columbus, Ohio and had passed up on buying Braiding Sweetgrass (she had already purchased a basket full of books!) and when she saw it in the store she knew she just needed to go ahead and give in. She had been wanting to read Braiding Sweetgrass for a while, but wanted a physical copy to make notes in. People We Meet on Vacation has been ALL OVER Chelsea's TikTok FYP and she finally caved. Plus, she had read Beach Read and loved Emily Henry's writing style. Both books were easy picks for Chelsea - although leaving the bookstore with only two books was difficult for both Kelli and Chelsea! Of course, that just means we'll have to visit another local bookstore to see what else we can find to add to our TBR lists!
Not only did we find more books to add to our shelves, but the staff were so friendly and helpful. And, since it was Independent Bookstore Day, they had promotions going, such as cute little totes supporting Indie bookstores for only a $1 and a free book with every purchase (until supplies last)! The free book was a nice surprise because it's one we wouldn't normally choose - Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk by David Sedaris. Neither of us have ventured into this book yet, but we'll eventually be able to mark it off our TBR list!
Overall, we highly recommend visiting Penguin Bookshop if you're in the Sewickley area of Pittsburgh. Not only can you spend a good amount of time in a cute little bookstore, but you can spend the morning or afternoon exploring other local shops along the street, grabbing something to eat and drink.
Did you visit a local independent bookstore recently? If so, let us know in the comments! We'd love to visit if we're ever out your way! If you’d like to see what we are reading now, check out our Goodreads profiles (Kelli and Chelsea) or follow 2 Girls Bookin' It on Instagram and Facebook! If you’re excited to see what other topics we’ll be covering in the coming months, make sure to subscribe. Thanks for reading with us!