Best of Phoenix is a special occasion. Let's be honest: Fifty-one weeks a year, we're in a bad mood over here at New Times (if we're doing our jobs right) — bursting bubbles, dashing dreams, reminding you what a godforsaken, politically backward, culturally deprived hellhole you've chosen for a home.
Ahem. Sorry, we got carried away there for a moment. Point is, once a year we take the time to celebrate the things we love about Phoenix, our very favorite things. And one of those is Changing Hands Bookstore. In a town where chains rule and originality can be all but impossible to find amid rows of sun-baked little pink houses and white church spires, this bookstore makes our job easy, for it simply is the best. Not just the best bookstore in town, but the best independent bookstore in the country. Not the biggest, no, but certainly the best, because Changing Hands is not just a business. It's a community. Whether you're selling books or looking for new ones, running into old friends or making acquaintances at one of the many workshops, readings, and other events the store offers, you can't help feeling included here, and just a little bit smarter. You can buy a book anywhere (except Border's — sorry, couldn't resist) but there aren't many places left where you can get advice about what to read next from the clerks; displays that point to genres you didn't know you love; and piles of sale books that are practically free. There's nothing automated about this place, and that's what we love. We know more than one Kindle owner who reads the e-book and buys a hard copy, just to have a reason to come to Changing Hands. That's love. That's the love.