Best-selling authors like Cormac McCarthy, George R.R. Martin, and Hampton Sides live here. So do a lot of rocket scientists, artists, and intellectuals who like to read. One of the most popular literary events throughout the year is the Lannan Foundation’s “Readings and Conversation” series (www.lannan.org), which brings internationally renowned writers and poets, like George Saunders, Jamaica Kincaid, and Luis Alberto Urrea, to Santa Fe’s Lensic Performing Arts Theater to discuss their work in a public setting. Time your visit right to see your favorite writer live at the Lensic. But there are also plenty of opportunities to fall in love with other brilliant minds at one of Santa Fe’s beautifully curated independent bookstores. In a city that values creativity above all else, the printed word is still a priority here and you could spend an entire week working your way through the shelves of the following bookstores.
Beloved by locals for intimate readings by big-name authors, Collected Works is a downtown institution. The last writer I heard speak here was Valerie Plame, the outed CIA agent who whose new spy novel “Blowback,” had just arrived on the shelves. The house was packed and Plame, who dished as much about her life in the CIA as she did about her writing process, was riveting.
Beehive Kids Books
This kid-sized adobe bungalow just a block from the Railyard is a young bookworm’s dream, with floor-to-ceiling shelves stocked with everything from board book bedtime stories like “Little Owl’s Night” by Divya Srinivasan to contemporary young-adult classics like “The Fault in Our Stars,” by John Green.
Garcia Street Books
Plan to spend at least a few hours here. In addition to the giant tables full of New York Times bestsellers, hard-to-find art books, and spot-on staff selections, there’s a generous New Mexico section that includes books like “Land of Enchantment Wildflowers,” “Day Hikes in the Santa Fe Area,” “The Rancho de Chimayo Cookbook,” and “Georgia O’Keefe and Her Houses.”
After spending a few hours at Garcia Street Books, drift next door to Photo Eye, the physical embodiment of one of the world’s most renowned websites for contemporary photography founded by Rixon Reed. It’s easy to get lost in images here, whether they are photos of Antarctica from Ann Nobles’ “The Last Road” or of the Chicago Outlaws Motorcycle Club in “The Bikeriders,” by Danny Lyon.
The Ark Bookstore
If Santa Fe is a spiritual mecca, The Ark is where seekers will find their bible for everything from Buddhist mantras to Christian mystics to Hindu deities to how-to health guides. But you’ll find a lot more than just words on paper. The Ark is also the one-stop shop for meditation aids like Tibetan singing bowls, stones with descriptions of their healing properties, and smudge tools to keep your house free of bad energy.