Reading provides us with the unique ability to activate our minds in a way that can relieve stress, take us to places we have never been, challenge our thinking patterns by teaching us valuable lessons about life and ourselves, provide us with endless knowledge, and boost our imagination and creativity! I have been a true bibliophile for as long as I can remember.
As a kid, I read every novel of the children’s horror fiction series Goosebumps by R.L. Stine, either quietly in a cozy corner or out loud to anyone who would listen! Whether you consider yourself a good ol’ bookworm like me or perhaps just someone who is interested in taking up a new hobby, heading to these locally owned regional bookstores that offer used books, specialty books, and other rare treasures will be precisely what you need to stock your shelves.
I completely understand the technology-driven world that we live in and you are probably thinking to yourself, why pick up a book when I can likely read the same material online? Hear me out . . . there is something truly magical about being able to have a tangible experience, anxiously turning each page to find out what happens next and admiring the physical beauty and scent of the pages that house the whole world between them.
My longtime friend and Roswell local Ashley Armijo shares, “There is just something about picking up an actual book to read. Sometimes I love to find books that people have put certain quotes or notes in the margins. Virtual reading just isn’t the same. I’ve literally been so into a book and dropped it right in the bathtub. Could you imagine dropping an iPad straight in the water? Yeah, it’s just not the same.”
COAS Books Inc. is New Mexico’s largest independent family-owned new-and-used bookstore with more than 500,000 books in stock. Current owners Mike and Veronica Beckett are proud to carry on the legacy of what started as a small archeological publishing company owned by Mike’s father, Pat Beckett. Mike states, “We have two locations in Las Cruces and are stewards of what we feel is a community institution.”
They carry mostly used books, but over time have grown into other categories, including new books. “We have always carried regional new books, but now carry new items from esoteric topics like tarot cards, socks, etc., to best sellers and new releases. This has made our stock depth very complete for lovers of new books, antique books, as well as bargain-priced used items,” says Mike. A unique facet of this bookstore is that customers can bring in items like LP records, DVDs, books, puzzles, and games in exchange for in-store credit to cover up to half of their purchase from any category.
The Mesilla Book Center is housed in a historic mercantile building built in 1856 located directly on the Mesilla Plaza. They specialize in Southwestern Americana; however, they also have a large selection of both children’s and general titles. In addition, you can find some true treasures such as Indian arts and crafts, Navajo rugs, and blankets from the village of Chimayo in Northern New Mexico.
In the extra-terrestrial city of Roswell, you will find that Books Again follows along with the city’s unofficial motto by being the “best used bookstore in the galaxy.” This nonprofit used book organization operates with an all-volunteer staff and profits support the activities of the Friends of the Roswell Public Library. Every book that reaches their shelves comes from folks who wish to donate their books in support of literacy. Since opening 10 years ago, they have proudly sold more than one million books at very reasonable prices. My Roswell pal Ashley shares her experience at Books Again by stating, “Amazingly, books can be anywhere from 25 cents to $3! I especially love the true crime and fantasy fiction sections of the store.”
In 2003, Books are GEMS became a nonprofit organization providing free books to children and educational resources to teachers in El Paso. Founder Paula Madriles created this beautiful resource in memory of her daughter Gracie Elizabeth Madriles, hence the acronym in the store’s name. With much support from the community, Paula’s vision of supporting student literacy became a reality. They offer several remarkable programs to accomplish this feat, such as “Storytime Saturdays” that take place virtually from 10:30 – 11 a.m. via Zoom and Facebook Live. A fun, new book is read each week and accompanied with activities so kiddos can follow along. Free support for educators allows any teacher (including home-schooling parents) or individuals working with children to take 25 free used books and unlimited teaching materials twice a year.
My personal favorite program they offer is that every child (from toddlers to high school students) will receive six gently used and one new book just for visiting the bookstore! Although they specialize in children’s books, they also have a general bookstore with many adult-level books as well. They suggest a donation of 50 cents for paperbacks and one dollar for hardback books. And get this, magazines are free!
Also located in The Lone Star State you will find Cactus Flower Bookery and the co-owning mother-daughter team of Stephanie and Shirleen Roberts. “I would describe my store as a neighborhood bookstore with a warm, inviting atmosphere that is always getting in new and interesting finds to buy and browse,” declares Stephanie. They keep all their books on file and can search their database for specific customer requests. If they don’t have what you are looking for, they can make an order request and contact you directly when your book gets in.
In Deming, you will find Reader’s Cove (which sounds like a mystical place!) situated in a historic stucco building that has served the community for longer than 20 years. They are constantly adding new items to their inventory and have recently put a storage barn in the back to hold the overflow. In addition to their book selection, covering the store from wall to wall is a wide variety of local art also available for purchase.
As you ponder the year ahead, I encourage you to make time to take a trip to one (or all) of these bookstores and pick up a book to help rejuvenate your mind, body, and soul! In the words of Dr. Seuss, “Fill your house with stacks of books, in all the crannies and all the nooks. The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go!”
Camino Real Bookstore
& Art Gallery
314 S. Tornillo St.
317 N. Main St.
1101 S. Solano Ave.
Mesilla Book Center
2360 Calle Principal, Mesilla
Books are GEMS
7744 N. Loop Dr.
Cactus Flower Bookery
5024 Doniphan Dr., Suite 9
308 N. Richardson Ave.
200 S. Copper St.
Written and photography by Desiree Bustamantes
Additional photos courtesy
Originally published in Neighbors magazine.
Posted by LasCruces.com