If there’s one thing we book nerds love it’s finding new and independent bookstores. We can purchase our favorite novels while supporting a small business – a win-win situation. But now that the ghoulish season is upon us, there’s an added excitement to these discoveries as we seek out a good scare. To aid you in your search for the spookiest bookshops out there, here’s a list of nine supposedly haunted bookstores around the world you can visit one day.
The Moravian Book Shop in Bethlehem, PA
This large, and slightly intimidating, bookshop in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania dates back all the way to 1745. By now, it has taken over neighboring buildings and occupies around 14,000 square feet of space. Contributing to its haunted reputation is the fact that it’s such an old establishment. It’s the oldest bookstore in America and the oldest continuously operating bookstore in the world. Now for the actual paranormal reports: Employees said they have seen a dark figure in a back hallway of the store going into the kitchen. They once followed the figure and found that the kitchen stove and fan were left on. Perhaps the ghost led them there to turn them off or the ghost itself was responsible for them being on. Others at the store also reported feeling and seeing unusual things in the same back hallway.
Wicked Good Books in Salem, MA
Wicked Good Books opened in 2013 and is located above Salem’s underground tunnel system. Many believe the tunnels were used to transport people and goods, for speakeasies during prohibition, and maybe even as part of the Underground Railroad. This is the basis for the supposed haunting in and around the bookstore. Christopher Dowgin is the author of a book titled Salem Secret Underground: The History of the Tunnels in the City and suspects the tunnels are haunted. He says his phone has flown out of his hands before, batteries drain quickly in that area, and orbs frequently show up on images taken in the area. This translates to the shop as spirits and apparitions spotted inside and books flying off shelves without being touched. The building itself has existed for more than 200 years, so it would make sense if there is a paranormal presence.
Attic Books in London, Ontario
According to a blog post from 2017, a visitor to Attic Books reports that the staff and owners of the shop agree the basement is haunted. They often smell cigar smoke coming from the basement, books fall from shelves, and lights flicker on and off. The employees have taken to calling the ghost Roland and tried preventative measures to keep him from messing with the bookshelves. By putting a stack of books on a rocking chair in the basement as an offering, he’s apparently been less inclined to make a mess. The visitor themselves said they didn’t see anything, but felt an intense and overwhelming feeling of needing to leave the basement. Eerie to hear and exciting to make this a stop on your bookstore bucket list.
Barber’s Bookstore in Fort Worth, TX
Started by Bert and Alice Barber in 1925, Barber’s Bookstore became a relatively successful business and still runs 97 years later. The shop has switched locations a few times but now resides in a three-story building constructed in 1908 that was once a hotel and cafe. Its claim to hauntedness is the ghost on the third floor. It flickers lights, throws books on the ground, and stomps on the stairs going to and from the third floor.
Browse Awhile Books in Tipp City, OH
This shop’s building dates back to 1872, so spirits and paranormal energy are basically guaranteed. This bookstore is considered incredibly haunted with somewhere between 10-20 spirits “confirmed” to make appearances. An investigation’s results also claim that some books have attachments to them. The shop is featured in a few paranormal shows and guests claim to have been punched, poked, scratched, and yelled at by the various spirits. At least one of them is a child because children’s toys that are left for kids often get moved. Some of the ghosts even have names, so perhaps on your visit, you can communicate with them directly.
The Book House in St. Louis, MO
This homey shop moved into an old Victorian farmhouse in 1986. Prior to its bookish use, the house belonged to a ship boat captain named George Keith and doubled as an inn. Later on, the Thompson family bought it, a doctor ran his practice from the house, and in the ‘60s, it was a wedding chapel. Right before the Book House came around, the house held an antique and craft store and a flower shop. Its long history might make it susceptible to spirits searching for a place to stay. The Book House is most known for Valerie, a little redhead ghost girl from the 1880s.
They say she drowned in a well on the property and has been there since. Employees and guests hear her giggling as she moves books, climbing to the roof, and see lights turn on and off. She has even been seen walking past windows. Two other ghosts also make appearances though they don’t seem as friendly as Valerie. The Dark Man and the Smoking Man do what their nicknames sound like: the Dark Man only appears wearing dark clothing and the Smoking Man walks through the store smoking his pipe.
The Haunted Bookshop at Book Barn in Niantic, CT
Though there are no official ghost or spirit sightings here, the owners have leaned into the idea of hauntings. Some guests have reported feeling chills while shopping or seeing vague, eerie things in the barn but nothing overly convincing. This shop is one of the locations that are part of the larger Book Barn in Connecticut. It’s a more family-oriented experience and they have cats roaming the grounds. Whether it’s haunted or not is up to you to decide, but at least you can enjoy some kitties while you browse.
Rivendell Books in Barrie, Ontario
For Lord of the Rings fans, this bookstore’s name might ring a bell. Wendy Cahill, the owner, is a fan and named Rivendell Books after the elves’ home in the fantasy series. The store focuses on used, rare, antique, and out-of-print books. It’s an interesting angle to tackle bookselling and definitely appeals to true book lovers out there. Another interesting part of the shop is the ghost that Cahill and her husband have accepted as a somewhat permanent guest. They’ve seen him and have even had instances where stacks of books appear overnight in places they shouldn’t. After hiring an investigative team, Cahill learned that the ghost was an elderly man who lived through the first and second World Wars.
The Haunted Bookshop in Cambridge, England
This one might be a bit harder to get to if you’re in the U.S., but worth including. Located in Cambridge, England, The Haunted Bookshop is located in a building that dates back to the 18th century. Sarah Key became the owner of the three-story bookstore in 1994. It has served many functions ranging from student housing to a home for books. What’s fascinating about this spot is that reports of a ghost have persisted for decades. The previous owner, who ran the shop for 15 years, claimed there was a ghost of a man in the basement. Years later, Sarah Key reported also seeing someone walk upstairs but disappear as she followed them up. This would be an interesting shop to investigate if you’re ever in the area.
Now you have a few places to get started in your haunted bookshop adventures. Hopefully, these can satisfy any spooky desires this season.
For more of Bookstr’s spooky content, keep reading here!