Brettne Bloom is a literary agent who divides her time between her home in Atlanta, where she moved with her husband and two teenage daughters last December, and New York City, where she is a founding partner of The Book Group.
“After living full-time in New York for nearly 20 years I’m so excited to get to explore all the bookish corners of Atlanta,” Bloom says, “I’ve been thrilled to see how much vibrancy there is here in the literary community—and I’m sure I’ve only scratched the surface.”
Here are her Top 5 favorite spots so far. Happy reading!
1. Virginia Highland Books is the bookstore of my dreams, with its perfectly curated selection of new releases and beloved classics, all in a stylish, airy space. There’s also a rotating collection of art (I’ve had my eye on one of their giant typewriter pieces for a while now) and a charming children’s section. The Instagram-worthy back staircase, stenciled with the names of famous authors, is the icing on the cake. My older daughter loves this store almost as much as she loves Sally Rooney, so I’ll be stopping in to buy her a copy of “Beautiful World, Where Are You,” this year’s bestselling novel about moody millennials searching for love and the meaning of life. While I’m there, I’ll also pick up some gifts for my mom: Elizabeth Strout’s “Oh William,” so we can have a mini-book club, Anthony Doerr’s “Cloud Cuckoo Land,” the last book that wowed me, and Ann Patchett’s “These Precious Days,” which made me cry. My mom and I love a good tearjerker.
2. The Atlanta History Center: I spend at least one or two days a week reading and editing manuscripts at BRASH Coffee in the Atlanta History Center. The café has such a great vibe, and I’m addicted to their oat milk cappuccinos. Before I leave, I like to pop into the museum shop tucked in the back, with its great selection of books by local and regional writers, cookbooks, and works on history, antiracism, and social justice. My younger daughter is a passionate baker, so on my next stop, I’ll be picking up a copy of Cheryl Day’s “Treasury of Southern Baking.” Day was part of the History Center’s excellent reading series last year, and her family stories are as memorable as her recipes are delicious. I’m also going to buy a copy of Amanda Gorman’s new poetry collection “Call Us What We Carry” for my own library and two copies of “How the Word is Passed” by Clint Smith, which cracked me open when I listened to the audio edition last fall. One for my husband, the other to donate to the Little Free Library on my street. The more people who read Clint Smith, the better.
3. H Mart Extravaganza: For the foodie in your life, here’s what I’d suggest: Head over to the nearest outpost of the famed Asian grocery store chain and load up with an armful of goodies. Rice cakes, Wagyu beef slices, maybe even a Cuckoo rice cooker. The sky’s the limit! Then, pick up a copy of “Crying in H Mart,” Michelle Zauner’s celebrated memoir of losing her Korean mother to cancer, that also explores the connection between food and identity. Present this bounty along with a Spotify link to the new album from Michelle’s band Japanese Breakfast, which is nominated for two Grammy Awards. (“Posing for Cars” is the most moving song of the year, in my opinion.) Read, eat, listen, repeat. It will be a true feast for the senses.
4. I went to Emory for undergrad, so I love to support the writers in their English and Creative Writing department. Jericho Brown, Tiphanie Yanique, and Tayari Jones are three of my current favorites—Tiphanie’s third novel, “Monster in the Middle,” just came out to rave reviews. You can find their books anywhere, of course, but I’ll be purchasing copies for my best friend at For Keeps Books, a remarkable bookstore+boutique+reading room+oasis founded by artist Rosa Duffy. Last I checked, For Keeps also had a signed collector’s edition of “Kindred” by Octavia Butler, among many others.
5. For the ultimate splurge: A gift certificate to dinner at Lucian Books and Wine. You saw that one coming, right? Atlanta’s hottest restaurant opening of the year merges three of my favorite things: books, wine, and French fries with horseradish mayonnaise (actually, I’m sure everything on the menu is delicious). What could’ve come off as a tad pretentious is instead a space that you’ll want to linger in for… eternity. If you’re looking to spoil the super special person in your life this holiday season—the hip lawyer who solves all your legal woes, the cool assistant who saves your bacon, the fashionista babysitter who loves to finger paint with your kids—here’s your answer. Happy Holidays!