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Jacksonville is home to the country's largest urban park system — with 80,000 of parks spread around the city, there are countless places to lay down a blanket and dig in to a good book. Before you set your plot of land aside for the afternoon, swing by one of these book stores to pick up a classic or that New York Times bestseller that's been on your reading list all year:
Ron Chamblin is the city's literary hero. His labyrinthine bookstore, Chamblin Bookmine, is a maze of books in every genre that are piled high in stacks and bookshelves that practically reach the ceiling. Ask an employee at the front desk for assistance if there's a specific title you're looking for — but if you have time to spare, revel in the experience of getting lost in the bounty of new and used titles. It's a hobby that local book lovers have held since the store first opened in 1976. Chamblin's Uptown, the bookmine's sister store, is located just off of Hemming Plaza in Downtown. It doesn't have the volume of options that its older sibling carries, but it does feature a charming cafe with fresh coffee and great food.
Beachcombers in the know stop by The BookMark in Neptune Beach before walking over to the shore. Owner Rona Brinlee has a sharp eye for the best up-and-coming authors and established writers, and she carefully stocks her shop with their best work. Check the store's calendar during your visit — authors are always stopping by for lectures, book readings and book signing events.
Rare first-editions are a specialty at San Marco Bookstore, a small shop that packs an impressive range of titles into its shelves. This is a particularly great place to read up on Jacksonville or Florida history, or pick up a military history volume (Jacksonville is a military town, after all). Kids' books and classics also get their fair share of real estate.