I’ve devised a bucket list of bookstores from around the world that I am dying to visit someday, each unique with endless room for exploration and imagination. Despite the ever changing technologies of the book world and many independent bookstores closing down, there are still an abundance of well-known and cherished bookstores. I look forward to ticking off each one as I visit them, updating you with snippets of secrets and insights into these wonderful places. If there are any bookstores you have visited or want to visit one day that are on your bucket list, please feel free to comment and share them with us and I might just add them to my list! Or if you have visited any of the bookstores on my bucket list, I’d love to hear about it!
1. Shakespeare & Company. This stunning jewel can be found in one of the most romantic cities in the world, Paris. It’s by far at the top of my bookstore bucket list and with a name like that, there is no wonder why it has been so successful. Their website consists of an old fashioned frame with clippings and pictures to click on and play with; it will have you amused for hours. I also follow the bookshop on Facebook and Twitter and receive interesting bits of information on its day-to-day activities. Shakespeare & Company buy and sell books including rare titles, they host an annual literary festival, workshops, podcasts, events and publish their very own literary magazine. This store is far beyond ‘just a bookstore’, it is the celebrity of all bookstores that I can’t wait to visit someday.2. Selexyz Dominicanen Bookstore. Minus an e, l and z and you’ve got one sexy bookstore. Selexyz is an architects dream, quite literally. Architect Merkx + Girod converted this 13th century Dominican church in Maastricht, Netherlands into a stunning contemporary bookstore. Cathedral ceilings and wide pillars give it a sense of awe while modern bookcases and units remind you that you’re living in the 21st century. A bookstore as large as this wouldn’t be complete without its coffee shop which reviewers rave about, claiming it’s the best coffee that they’ve ever tasted! The Book Barge. Now this next bookshop can be a little hard to track down as it moves around a lot. Yep, that’s right, it’s a floating bookshop! This barge is England’s only floating bookshop, making it extremely unique and a must-see if you can locate it’s arrival destinations. “We live in times where young people have Debussy mustaches, and listen to Sixties and Seventies music. They are interested in the past. The book barge’s popularity is a side effect of Amazon coldly dictating books for us “to consider”, and the Kindle-dazzled masses losing touch with tangible novels.” [The Telegraph] Take your time to visit their website that lists dazzling details of upcoming events under ‘Ports of Call’ along with Curiosity Shop, Ark and Reading Room. The barge also offers unique services that can be found under ‘Writing Shed’ which includes creative space if you are stuck for a place to escape and write. The hipster-style services are difficult to pass up as they offer a tea caddy, typewriter, warm socks, a nearby pub and sharpened pencils. For book lovers, writers, authors, publishers and adventurers, The Book barge is a floating dream! 4. Livraria Lello. Consistently listed as one of the top bookstores in the world, this glorious building first opened in 1906 in Porto, Portugal. “In 2010, Lonely Planet named Livraria Lello the “Third Best Boosktore in the World!” The pictures are beautiful but I don’t think they portray the breathtaking feeling you would experience walking into such a place with a facade of art nouveau architecture and yes, finally, a bookstore that has those sliding ladders on the bookshelves that you always see in the movies. Unfortunately, they are for staff use only but still a great sight to see. It’s cosmetic beauty, especially the embellished staircase is quite incredible, not forgetting it’s wide selection of Portuguese titles as well as a selection of English and French books too. This is not a quick stop bookshop but a place to relax and kick start that new book of yours that you’ve been dying to read, while perhaps enlightening your taste buds with a delicate coffee, port wine or cigar from the upstairs cafe.
5. The Bookworm. Located in China’s capital, Beijing, is a magical restaurant-style bookstore where the world unites for a unique experience. An illusion of floating candle sticks bedazzle the air, filling you with that same magical sensation that the Harry Potter films give you. At the last count, this bookstore had 16,112 titles on their library shelves. Whether you are a member or not, The Bookworm offers a myriad of happenings that are updated weekly and can be found via their website. Activities include music gigs, pub quizzes, book talks, debates, book launches, live poetry and captivating discussions from well-renowned journalists, travel writers and novelists. Don’t forget to check out their international literary festival and spend an informal night wining and dining at the shop. I feel like I would have to stick around for a week to really soak up all that this westernized bookstore has to offer.
6. Buenos Aires’s Librería El Ateneo Grand Splendid. Listed in the National Geographic and Lonely Planet, there is no wonder The Guardian listed in the ‘top ten bookstores in the world.’ Located in downtown Buenos Aires, Argentina, this bookstore was once a 1920’s movie palace who’s story can be told through it’s ornate ceilings and carvings along with its original balconies and stage curtains. If this majestic space doesn’t inspire you, I’m not sure anything will.
7. Bart’s Books. Big is not necessarily better, but in this case, it is! Bart’s Books is recognized as the largest independent and outdoor bookstore in America located in Ojai, California. It’s doors are open 7 days a week until sunset, but don’t worry if you can’t make it in time, this bookstore operates using the ‘honor system’ excluding the rare and first edition titles worth thousands of dollars located inside the walls of this bookworm’s playground. Bart’s Books has become host to nearly one million books, an unfathomable number. Trust the Americans to go big or go home!8. The American Book Center. Despite its name, this bookstore is actually located in Amsterdam, Netherlands in a 300 year old building (another dutch favorite for book lovers). We all love a family business and this store takes the win as it contains the largest independent source of English language books in Europe. It also contains a tree inside its walls, known as the ‘treehouse’ that plays host to book events, courses, workshops, meetings, book groups and more. It is a book paradise located right in the heart of the city. 9. Atlantis Books. I kick myself for only finding out about this hidden jewel in Santorini, Greece now, as I visited the island just two summers ago. It looks like I’m going to have to re-visit it to explore this unusual and brilliant Greek tavern bookshop. White and Blue are the consistent colors on the island in the sky and on land. The full story can be read on the official website of how this bookstore came about. Another interesting fact and unusual for a bookstore of this nature is that when the store was born, so was it’s publisher Paravion Press. In the backroom of the shop, the publisher assembles editions of their favorite short works and sends them to their consumers. Don’t forget to check out the picturesque terrace overlooking the Aegean Sea! 10. The World’s Smallest Bookstore. The reason for adding this bookstore to my bucket list is in the name – ‘The World’s Smallest Bookstore’. It is so small that there is no official website for it. It is located a few kilometers east of Kinmount, Ontario on Regional Road 503 and is open 24 hours a day as it too works on the ‘honor system.’ All books are $3 each; you just write down what book you’ve purchased and insert the cash into the money box. The bookstore measures approximately 10ft by 10ft, that’s it! The trick to the store is that there is actually a warehouse located just beyond the little bookstore that offers customers more choice of titles.