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Books and Brew: Nine Shops for Book and Coffee Lovers

Libby Wiersema Libby Wiersema
Libby Wiersema lived in California and Alabama before settling in South Carolina 30 years ago, where she's covered the state's best culinary offerings and tells the stories behind the food.
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The book nook at Second Wave makes for a cozy reading spot.

Next to the smell of freshly brewed coffee, the scent of books comes in a close second. Blend the two and you’ve got yourself a heady, cozy combo that’s tough to resist. Reading to escape life’s demands for a few minutes just seems more inviting when the dark aroma of coffee also beckons. It’s no wonder that coffee shop/bookstore pairings bring people together around a common cause: curling up with a good book and a cup of joe. Here are nine independent shops where what’s on the bookshelves is as key as what’s brewing in the coffee pot.

Books on Broad, Camden
The town clock might be the most recognizable feature in historic Camden, but this bookstore is also considered one of downtown’s most beloved landmarks. Upon entering, customers immediately notice two things: A treasure trove of historical volumes accessible via rolling ladder and the rich wafting of coffee brewing. Venture farther into this charming shop and you’ll find everything from the latest best sellers to children’s classics. In the back, a cheerful little coffee bar is churning out steaming mugs among the store’s used book collection. Grab a volume, order a brew and sink into a comfy chair.

Second Wave Coffee & Books, Lexington
While this shop is more brew than books, it’s well worth your time to drop in and sample its wares. Arc of the Midlands oversees this operation, which trains and employs a staff of friendly folks with intellectual and developmental disabilities. If you are partial to contagious smiles and attentive customer service, this is your place. Order a coffee drink and muffin, then take a seat in the shop’s comfy book nook where you’ll find a selection of used, but interesting things to read. Out back is a sitting/play area that kids will find especially appealing.

Higher Grounds, Columbia 
If you’re a fan of books with a religious persuasion, you’ll be tempted by the selection of Christian titles at this shop. A menu of satisfying coffee selections and eats from its gourmet bistro round out the experience. Try their salads, soups, sandwiches or spring for something sweet. Chase it all down with a made-to-order java drink to sip while you check out the bookshelves.

M. Judson Booksellers, Greenville
Tucked inside the city’s historic courthouse building, this downtown bookshop hums with activity as patrons show up to snag the latest best sellers, classic reads and everything in between. Camilla Kitchen, the name of its coffee and cookie operation, is known for its friendly baristas. You’ll also find local specialty items, cards, gifts and novelties, too.

The Coffee Shelf, Chapin
If you are passionate about both coffee and books, spend some time in this vibrant shop where the book selection is diverse and coffee drinks have literary names like The Great Gatsby and Atticus Finch. It’s also a hub for a cultured crowd with artists, authors and poets headlining gatherings, signings and readings.

WiseFire Cafe & Books, Blacksburg
Fresh beans and a solid assortment of used books are just part of the allure of this popular shop. Inside you’ll find rare and autographed volumes as well as teas, glass bottle sodas, hand-crafted shakes, Danish, muffins and locally roasted premium coffee. This is one of the few places in SC where you can get an affogato—a decadent Italian mash-up of coffee and ice cream. The shop also serves as a gathering spot for the Dungeons and Dragons crowd and regularly hosts open mic nights.

Hub City Bookshop and Little River Coffee Bar, Spartanburg
Literary cultivation is tops at this shop that supports the writing community while catering to readers. There is an emphasis on Southern writers and titles, including those published by the Hub City Press. The lineup of author and writing events is comprehensive and ongoing. The bookshop operates in conjunction with the neighboring Little River Coffee Bar, where you can get all your favorite coffee and specialty drinks as well as fresh-baked goods. Whether you’re part of the literati or just looking for a good book and great coffee, a visit to Hub City Bookshop is a must.

Village Bookseller, Mount Pleasant 
This gathering place draws a diverse crew of book lovers, from serious readers to the kiddie crowd. Part of its bustling business can be attributed to the great coffee offerings. Local, freshly roasted beans ground in-house invite java aficionados to settle in for rich sips and a read. On the shelves you’ll find an array of new fiction, coffee table books, nonfiction, cookbooks and children’s books as well as calendars, stationery and other gifty trinkets.

Corks, Cooks & Books, Rock Hill
This unique shop is what happens when a book publisher and cookbook author join forces to indulge their passions for wine, tasty eats and good books. This experience goes beyond the perusal of bookshelves and the pleasures of an expertly crafted latte, though. This is a place where you can grab a bite with your book. Sit down with a glass of pinot noir and nibble on an artsy charcuterie board with friends while listening to live music. Bubbles, reds, whites, beer and even craft cocktails can be yours for the asking. The food menu is a list of deliciousness, from spicy deviled eggs to goat cheese flatbread to a bowl of smoked pork with potatoes, each dish showcasing the talents of Chef Shonali Pugh Thomas. There are also book signings, open mic poetry nights and such, as well as plenty of great reads (including the latest best sellers) to fulfill all your literary desires. 

 

 

Libby Wiersema
Libby Wiersema lived in California and Alabama before settling in South Carolina 30 years ago, where she's covered the state's best culinary offerings and tells the stories behind the food.