Jason Wu/Sun Senior Editor

A customer looks through a book in the Bargain Books pile at Autumn Leaves Used Books on Apr. 29, 2023.

November 30, 2023

A Review of Local Bookstores in Ithaca

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As the weather has gotten chillier, I have been spending more time inside, finishing most of the novels I brought with me to college. This meant I was in need of some new books, so I went on a mission to explore the local bookstores of Ithaca. While researching options near campus, I found three interesting shops down by Ithaca Commons that piqued my interest. 

First, I visited the Odyssey Bookstore, situated in the basement of a quaint stone building. As my friends and I entered the small space, we immediately fell in love with the cozy atmosphere. The store is packed with books from floor to ceiling, providing plenty of selections for readers of all genres. The shelves have chalkboards above them with a cute drawing and the name of the genre of book kept on that shelf. My favorite of these illustrations was in the architecture section, which featured several colorful buildings. There are also small slips of paper that hang out from under some of the books to give short synopses of them. This attention to detail had me falling in love with Odyssey Bookstore. They also sold blind dates with a book. You can buy a book that was wrapped with brown paper, with a drawing and description of the book on it. Readers try out a book they might not normally pick up but also have some idea of the genre and general plot that they are going to be reading. They also offered a customizable subscription. Hand-picked books are shipped to you monthly based on your reading preferences. The store has cozy places to sit and read, such as a chair next to a fireplace or an enchanting cushioned window seat, which really made it feel homey. They had a large selection of both fiction and nonfiction. Odyssey Bookstore is the perfect spot for anyone looking for a delightful place to relax and browse books. 

The second bookstore I explored was Autumn Leaves Used Books. This store had a different vibe. It was much larger and felt less curated. However, it had a nice selection of nonfiction books in genres such as cooking, gardening and classics. There were also some large cases with older and rare books that would be great additions to any book lover’s collection. They also had different editions and copies of books that might be the perfect budget buy for an English reading requirement. It definitely is the kind of place you have to search to find what you are looking for, but there are many hidden gems. Autumn Leaves Used Books additionally had a second and third level that sold comics, CDs, action figures, VHS tapes, records and more. I am sure music and film fanatics would appreciate these additions. This shop is the perfect spot for anyone interested in investing some time to find unique books at a more affordable price point. 

The final bookshop I perused was Buffalo Street Books. Slightly off the Commons, it was bigger than the Odyssey Bookstore but smaller than Autumn Leaves Used Books. It had the largest children’s section of the three and a pretty expansive fiction section. This bookstore had a substantial sitting area in the back that would be very comfortable to spend a couple hours reading. They carried multiple copies of each book, and I recognized some popular new releases on the shelves. Like Odyssey Bookstore, some of the shelves had tags highlighting certain books, which was a nice touch. Buffalo Street Books had the largest selection of book-related merchandise such as stickers, puzzles and games that would be the perfect present for any literary lover. My favorite sticker was one featuring Taylor Swift’s albums on book covers. This is a great place for any reader looking for a larger fiction selection and some fun literary goodies.

Overall, Odyssey Bookstore was my favorite. I enjoyed the charm and thoughtful touches making for the perfect book-shopping experience. Buffalo Street Books had a nice selection of my favorite genre of books, so I am sure I will be making many trips there as well. Autumn Leaves Used Books has great deals that would work into any college budget. If you are looking for a new read to cozy up with this winter, all of these book stores provide a great shopping adventure.

Emma Robinson is a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences. She can be reached at [email protected].