I visited several shops on my recent New Orleans bookstore crawl and found something to love about each of them. One of the most interesting aspects of the indie bookstore scene in the Big Easy is the uniqueness of each shop – and there are several. From the clean, crisp inventory of new books at shops like Octavia Books to the treasure trove of vintage books on Jenga-like display at Arcadian, each bookshop is full of its own singular charm and character.
This sentiment held perhaps most true at the eclectic Blue Cypress Books, a spectacular blend of used books, new releases, gift items, and the obligatory bookstore cat. Located in Carrollton near the St. Charles streetcar (which was unfortunately closed for repair during my visit, making for a rather circuitous journey throughout the day), the shop is one of few remaining indie bookshops in Uptown New Orleans. But it fills the void quite well all by itself.
Boasting an impressive inventory across multiple genres (with especially notable sections of fiction, cookbooks, and children’s books), readers will find carefully curated selections on just about any subject they’re searching for, except perhaps romance novels or textbooks, which the shop doesn’t offer. Adding to the charm, the shelves are adorned with little handwritten touches like quotes (“I do not argue with obstinate men. I act in spite of them.” – Agatha Christie) and interesting facts (“Obsessed with cats, Poe often wrote with a cat on his shoulder.”)
Established in 2008 by Elizabeth Ahlquist, Blue Cypress started with a rather simple mission. “I really did feel there was a need in the community for a secondhand store,” she told The Maroon in 2018. “At the time, there was a new book store, but they were not selling secondhand when I opened.”
That other shop closed its doors in 2017, so Blue Cypress began increasing its new-book selections.
“We’re probably at about ten percent new books,” says Shop Manager LeeAnna. “We have new releases and there are several new releases in our local interest section, along with a handful of new books in each section.”
For its new releases and local interest books, the shop holds routine talks, signings, and book launch parties, making it a sought-after stop for both locals and tourists alike.
Adding to the uniqueness of Blue Cypress is the fact that it is the only shop operated completely by women and is one of two women-owned shops in New Orleans. They’re also the only shop I found with its own bookstore cat, Kitty Meow, who, by the way, apparently has the rather discerning taste common to cats. She came right up to me but was quite dismissive of another customer who was attempting to call her over.
I could’ve stayed in Blue Cypress for hours to scan the shelves and chat with the welcoming, friendly, and knowledgeable staff, but unfortunately I showed up near closing time on my last day in the city. Tip: If you’re going to Blue Cypress, go early!
Blue Cypress Books is open daily and is located in at 8126 Oak Street, New Orleans, Louisiana.