photograph by Millie Holloman Photography

Driving south along the sand-swept pavement of Topsail Island’s N.C. Highway 50 is a journey of routine. For miles, it’s just cleverly named houses and glimpses of glittering waves and wind-bent trees. Although it’s only six miles from Surf City to the boundary of Topsail Beach, the ride stretches like one long run-on sentence. But the punctuation mark at the end is a true oasis — a colorful outpost where locals and tourists gather to unwind and enjoy a heady concoction of coffee, books, and wine.

This is Quarter Moon Books & Gifts, equal parts café, bookstore, hangout, and boutique.

“Bookstore is a bit of a misnomer,” says Lauren Westervelt, daughter of the store’s owner, Lori Fisher. “It’s a store that sustains my mother’s book habits.”

And, happily, the book habits of many others. For 20 years, Quarter Moon Books has given beachgoers a literary escape, stocking best sellers and indie titles alongside flowy dresses and flip-flops. The store has evolved over the years, riding the ebb and flow of economic tides. Clothing, smoothies, sandwiches made by a local baker, live music, earthy malbecs, and even to-go cans of champagne share the stage with the original fare of novels and greeting cards. Residents and visitors alike linger here to sip chilled glasses of wine on the outside deck or lounge inside with Socks the cat while listening to an acoustic guitar show.

Quarter Moon manages to be all this without being kitschy. “Being a bookstore is where our heart is,” Fisher says, “but we also love what the place has become.”

It’s an honest, no-fuss kind of place at the end of a long barrier island. A place to find a great suggestion on a good read. A place to settle into.

Quarter Moon Books & Gifts
708 South Anderson Boulevard
Topsail Beach, N.C. 28445
(910) 328-4969

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Claire Parker lives and writes in Wilmington, where she enjoys reading a good book with a little bit of sand between her toes.