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Country Bookshelf

Country Bookshelf says “Bozeman” in the same way that Fact and Fiction says “Missoula.” It was an experience just walking in. The store is simultaneously fantastic and down-to-earth, with an incredible selection and a welcoming, laid back atmosphere. 

It was raining in downtown Bozeman when we visited and there was an event going on so Main Street was blocked off from traffic and people were filling every spot of pavement and sidewalk, walking into coffee shops shoulder to shoulder and carrying armloads of shopping bags. It got drier when we stepped into the store but no less crowded. The place was filled with people happily browsing and the bustle was warm and fun. I always love a busy bookstore. (Which says something because I don’t like any other store when it’s busy.) 

We moved straight back from the door to the children’s section first. High shelves were bursting with books, the top shelf lined with stuffed animals looking down at us as we browsed. They had a huge display of Brain Quest cards, lovely editions of some of our favorite titles, and a great selection for every age group. 

We split up from there, my son headed straight for the graphic novels, my older daughter for the large section of art supplies and stationery. My husband stayed in the kids area with my youngest and I was lured up the stairs by the siren song of a sale.

Country Bookshelf is a multi-level store with a balcony overlooking the counter and the main shopping area below.The second level was mostly filled with discounted books when we were there. (So basically heaven.) It also boasted the single greatest collection of journals I have ever seen in one place. I do not need a journal but I nearly bought one anyway. 

There were a few places to sit and visit or sip coffee while you read, posters on the walls, and just a great opportunity to listen and people-watch. 

For a minute or two, I leaned on the balcony and kept an eye on my family shopping below. I saw a group of college students jostling down the stairs, heard friends making informed and heartfelt book recommendations to one another, and saw the staff efficiently ringing up purchases. There was a distinct “holiday-rush” feel even though it was only August. Whether that was due to the event outside or the end of summer looming close, I don’t know. 

The store had a strong feeling of community and I was so happy that we visited. Our whole journey on the Montana Bookstore Trail was filled with lessons in neighborliness, state pride, and individual expression. Indie bookstores are treasures in a troubled world.

I selected my books from the new release fiction area and signed up for their email newsletter on the way out. It’s always cleverly written and filled with solid book recommendations. I enjoy its arrival in my inbox even though I don’t live in Bozeman. You don’t need to live there either to enjoy the store. You can shop with them online or support them with your membership

But if you’re in downtown Bozeman, stop in and see it in person. It’s a dream of a bookstore and I know you’ll love it. They’ve got author events on frequently, so keep an eye on that and you may get to collect a signed copy of a favorite at some point. 

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