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Golden Hour Books, Indianapolis: The Return of Indie Bookstore

By Dominique Weldon


A new independent, Indianapolis bookstore is well-curated and highly worth the visit.

As someone who loves literature, I also adore bookstores, especially independent bookstores. There’s nothing quite like entering a cozy shop filled with the warm scent of coffee, unfamiliar books, and other readers who are also browsing through the shelves. During my undergrad studies, I frequently visited local independent bookstores because of those comforts. That’s why I was disappointed when I moved to northeast Indianapolis and discovered that there weren’t independent bookstores in my immediate neighborhood. However, that changed this past October because Golden Hour Books opened in the Meridian-Kessler area. Golden Hour Books is a lovely independent bookstore with a calming atmosphere and a fantastic selection that includes literary fiction, translated literature, children’s literature, and more. While the shop has only been open for a few months, it’s already become a staple in the neighborhood, one that any book lover should visit.


I’m sure many locals weren’t surprised when Golden Hour Books opened last year. After all, since the 2020 pandemic, several independent bookstores have opened throughout the United States. According to Alexandra Alter and Elizabeth Harris from The New York Times, the American Booksellers Association has seen substantial growth in memberships, specifically “2,023 member stores in 2,561 locations, up from 1,689 in early July of 2020.” Aside from Golden Hour Books, several other bookstores have opened in Indianapolis during 2023, including Loudmouth Books, Tomorrow Bookstore, and Dream Palace. Another bookstore, The Whispering Shelf, will open in 2024. Therefore, the increase of new bookstores in the US means now is the perfect time to pick up reading as a hobby or deepen your already existing love for books.


Of course, there are several reasons to shop at these independent bookstores other than simply finding a novel. Firstly, purchasing goods from a locally owned business means more of your money stays in your neighborhood in comparison to shopping at a major online retailer. Additionally, these stores are owned by members of your community. Therefore, by frequenting an independent bookstore, you’ll positively impact your community, and communities are an invaluable aspect of the human experience. After all, human beings are negatively impacted when their social bonds are weakened, and thus our well-being depends on the strength of those connections (Cook). That’s why it’s important to find and support an “other place” outside of your home and work where you can find belonging. For many, independent bookstores can be that other place.


For those interested in making Golden Hour Books their other place, head to its location on College Avenue in Indianapolis. Surrounded by restaurants, a local coffee shop, and a vinyl store, Golden Hour Books has an opportune location. The store is owned by spouses Sara Gelston Somers and Max Somers. The owners have experience with books, for Sarah Gelston Somers previously taught English and Creative Writing at Butler University before opening Golden Hour Books. Therefore, visitors can be assured that the business is run by someone with expertise in literature.


Funny enough, I was not aware that Golden Hour Books was even opening. In fact, during the store’s grand opening, I was grading my students’ English papers at a local coffee shop. While taking a break from the grading process, I caught up on my social media feeds and noticed that several friends were attending the grand opening of a brand-new bookstore only minutes away. Excited by the idea of a new bookstore in my neighborhood, I finished grading and hurried over to Golden Hour Books.


Upon arriving at the bookstore, I immediately noticed a green eye painted on one of the windows. The large eye beckoned me inside the two-room shop, which was filled with balloons, an individual handing out coffee at the back of the store, and hundreds of books. Many people had gathered to converse and browse through the shelves of literary fiction, short story collections, nonfiction, graphic novels, and several other genres.


As someone who adores literary fiction, specifically books with lyrical language, complex structures, and deeply complicated characters, I was enamored by the selection. It was a thrill to see books including All’s Well by Mona Awad, Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin, and Nightbitch by Rachel Yoder, three rather complex and engaging books. Since the store’s tagline is “Books for Continuing Exploration,” I immediately understood that if I wanted to continue my exploration, I needed to trust the store’s curation, and I’m glad I did. That’s because in the several months the store has been open, I’ve picked up several new books that I had never heard of before, including Roses, in the Mouth of a Lion by Bushra Rehman, Daughter by Claudia Dey, and Reproduction by Louisa Hall. I’ve already finished Roses, in the Mouth of a Lion and Reproduction, and they’ve become two of my new favorite books due to their exploration of what it means to be human.


Adults are not the only ones who can enjoy Golden Hour Books, for the room to the left of the entrance is a space dedicated to children’s literature. From picture books to middle-grade books and YA literature, young readers also have the opportunity to explore the many worlds that literature has to offer. There are even seats for young readers to grab a book and relax during their visit. This space shows Golden Hour Books is a place for all readers to enjoy, whether young or old, which I’m sure families will appreciate.


In the end, Golden Hour Books is a lovely addition to the Meridian-Kessler neighborhood. By including books for both adults and children, the wide selection welcomes a variety of readers. Furthermore, since the store is independently owned, shopping there means purchases give back to the local literary community. That’s why I not only recommend Golden Hour Books to everyone in Indianapolis but to anyone who visits the community.

 

Works Cited

Alter, Alexdandra and Elizabeth A. Harris. "Some Surprising Good News: Bookstores Are Booming and Becoming More Diverse." 10 July 2022. The New York Times. 7 January 2024.

Cook, Gareth. "Why We Are Wired to Connect." 22 October 2013. Scientific American. 7 January 2024.

 

About the Writer:

Dominique Weldon is a Black biracial writer based in Indiana, IN. She is a first-generation college graduate of the University of Iowa and received her MFA in Fiction from Butler University. Her work appears in Lover’s Eye Press and DarkWinter Literary Magazine. Currently, she reads fiction for Split Lip Magazine and writes for Erato Magazine. Find her online at www.dominiquekweldon.com


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