Assert Your Independence

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In Culture, Feature

Pledge your allegiance to Subterranean Books and explore every shelf of this local indie bookseller


Bookish types and fashionistas have something very fundamental in common: most members of both camps would rather explore the aisles of an indie store stocked with carefully selected gems than rifle through a big-box gargantuan where the good stuff can sometimes be overshadowed by heaps of the run-of-the-mill.

When it comes to treasure of the ink-and-paper variety, Subterranean Books offers an impressively well-edited yet diverse selection of independent bookstore bestsellers, lesser-known tomes from small presses, classic lit, children’s titles—the literary gamut. Open since 2000, this Loop treasure trove made its mark as the locally owned source for both new and used books, especially for Wash U. students.

Nowadays, the nook only sells new books, but the atmosphere of discovering an unexpected gem still remains; the shelves are filled only with that which Subterranean’s staff of literary curators find cool—much like a great boutique that only sells the clothing its devastatingly stylish employees find fabulous. But unlike some elite fashion boutiques, Subterranean staffers have not a single ounce of pretension. Here, you’re encouraged to ask questions, make recommendations on what the store stocks in the future and pore over each and every shelf until you find something that fits you perfectly (6275 Delmar Blvd., 314.862.6100).

Just Around the Corner
While you’re in the neighborhood, check out these other stops on Delmar.

Plowsharing Crafts
You’ll want to give yourself plenty of time to browse this bazaar of beautiful handmade craft items from around the world. Every nook is filled with something you’ll want to pick up and examine more closely, and it’s hard to leave without finding something you or someone you know absolutely has to have. What’s more, many of the products here are made with sustainable and recycled materials and nearly everything is fair trade. Since 1985, Plowsharing Crafts has helped provide income to skilled artisans from across the globe by marketing their products in St. Louis (6271 Delmar Blvd., 314.863.3723).

Meshuggah Café
There’s good coffee, and then there’s the cuppa joe you can get at Meshuggah, which means “crazy” in Yiddish. Even on rainy or brisk days, regulars can be spotted sitting beneath the café’s maroon awning, catching up with friends, noshing from Meshuggah’s reasonably priced breakfast and lunch menus or catching up on work using the café’s free wi-fi. Inside, enjoy your bookstore find on one of the comfy couches (6269 Delmar Blvd., 314.726.5662).

Compônere Gallery of Art and Fashion
Browse regional art from the 150 artists this gallery represents in a welcoming atmosphere (the gallery name itself is a derivative of the Latin phrase for “to come together). This month, St. Louis artist Marilynne Bradley will showcase watercolors that highlight her hometown’s architecture, from the Wainwright Building to the Climatron. Last month, the gallery expanded for a second time, devoting its new space to the sale of jewelry, affordable original art and fine crafts (6509 Delmar Blvd., 314.721.1181).


1059_431.jpgSubterranean Books


Photo credit: Photos by Sarah Quatrano

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