Books transport us to another world, and while the golden age of bookstores may have passed as the digital era takes over, there is nothing better than browsing a beautiful bookstore lined with tomes. From an exquisite former theater in Buenos Aires, Argentina, to a hidden gem in the heart of New York, here are some of the world’s best bookstores that will take you on a journey around the world.
1. Attic Books
Attic Books is one of the largest antiquarian independent and used bookstores in Canada. Located in London, Ontario, the bookstore was opened over 40 years ago and specializes in old and used books, along with ephemera, prints, and maps. The store spans three floors with hardwood maple floors, original tin ceilings, and a bright, spacious, and relaxed atmosphere and walls lined with rare and used books, prints, maps, postcards, ephemera, and book-related antiques. Friendly and knowledgeable staff on hand to prove information and help with any queries.
240 Dundas St, London, ON N6A 1H3, Canada, Phone: 519-432-7277
2. Barter Books
Set in a Victorian train station in the small village of Alnwick in England, Barter Books is a cozy and inviting bookstore with crackling fires in winter and miniature trains still moving around the shelves. Based in a former train station, the store’s architecture is reminiscent of this time with rounded ceilings, decorative lighting, and train-themed accents around the space. The second-hand bookstore features a variety of categories ranging from poetry and plays, and paperbacks and fiction to biography, business, history, philosophy, gardening, needlework, and transport. The bookstore has a casual café in the winter months that serves specialty coffees and teas and delicious homemade fare, and there is a children’s store with toys to keep the little ones occupied.
Alnwick NE66 1QQ, United Kingdom
3. Boekhandel Dominicanen
Located in a beautifully converted 13th-century Dominican Church in Entre Deux, Boekhandel Dominicanen is a significant bookstore that seamlessly blends rich and historic architecture with modern-day needs. Spanning two floors, the bookstore features over 200 feet of bookshelves filled with a vast collection of Dutch and English titles and uses the original alcoves of the church as cozy reading nooks for visitors. The national monument in Maastricht features spectacular Gothic-style ceilings and stone vaults and houses a cozy coffee shop in the choir section of the medieval church.
Dominicanerkerkstraat 1, 6211 CZ Maastricht, Netherlands, Phone: +31-4-34-10-00-10
4. Book and Bed Tokyo Ikebukuro
© Book and Bed Tokyo Ikebukuro
Book and Bed Tokyo Ikebukuro is a unique accommodation bookshop concept that sells bunks and shelves for a one-of-a-kind ‘night-in-the-bookstore’ experience. Located a short walk from the JR Ikebukuro Station, Book and Bed Tokyo Ikebukuro offers a bookshop-themed accommodation with a collection of 3,000 pieces of reading material in English and Japanese. Guest accommodations feature compact bunk beds with individual power outlets and reading lights and a shared lobby area where guests can select their favorite books from the vast collection. There is a casual café, a convenience store, and a pharmacy nearby.
Japan, ?171-0021 Tokyo, Toshima City, Nishiikebukuro, 1 Chome-17-7 ??????? 7?, Phone: +81-3-69-14-29-14
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5. Cafebreria El Pendulo
© Farknot Architect/stock.adobe.com
Part bookstore, part café, and part forest, Cafebreria El Pendulo is a unique concept bookstore chain around Mexico City with multiple stories lined with books and casual café facilities. The store features wooden floors, charming balconies with curvy green handrails, and living plants in around the store that sets a naturalistic mood. The store sells a wide variety of literature ranging from new titles or reprints of older books in both Spanish and English, and a selection of music available in both CD and vinyl format, along with Mexican and literary-themed designer items such as porcelain luchador-themed salt and pepper shakers. Cozy reading nooks with curling vines and leaves make visitors feel as if they are reading in the heart of a lush forest.
Alejandro Dumas 81, Mexico City, 11550, Mexico
6. Carture'ti Carusel
© Carture'ti Carusel
Set in a beautifully restored building that was constructed in 1903 by a wealthy family of Greek bankers, Carture'ti Carusel is an awe-inspiring bookstore in the heart of Bucharest that is thought to be one of the most beautiful bookstores in the country. Spanning 10,000 square feet across three floors, the bookstore features breathtaking interiors with elegantly curved balconies on each of the upper levels surrounding a triple volume open space and a charming teahouse on the top floor overlooking the store. The bookstore is extremely popular with tourists, so it is advised to visit in the morning to avoid crowds.
Strada Lipscani 55, Bucure?ti 030033, Romania, Phone: +40-7-28-82-89-22
7. Cook & Book
© Cook & Book
Situated in the heart of Brussels, Cook and Book offer a unique combination of a bookstore and a restaurant that provides visitors with a one-of-a-kind book shopping experience. Conveniently located on the Roodebeek line of the Metro, the store features nine rooms divided between two separate buildings, each of which has a different selection of books and unique character and atmosphere. The rooms are designed for reading and dining and boast different themes such as an old-school British Library, an entire English section, and sections of travel, cooking, music, fine arts, and lifestyle. A charming terrace offers alfresco-style dining and lovely spots for reading, and a playground is available for younger visitors.
Place du Temps Libre 1, 1200 WoluweSaint-Lambert, Belgium, Phone: +32-27-61-26-00
8. Daunt Books
© Daunt Books
Founded by James Daunt in 1990, Daunt Books is a well-known chain of used bookstores with stores around London. Based in a beautifully preserved building on Marylebone High Street in London, which was initially built in 1910 for antiquarian booksellers Francis Edwards, Daunt Books features exquisite interiors with a long, galleried main room lined with bookshelves and a magnificent arched stained-glass window. The store sells books from a variety of genres, ranging from fiction, non-fiction, history, and biographies to novels, travel guides, children’s books, cookery, and art, all of which can be found in all the Daunt Book stores around London.
83 Marylebone High Street, London W1U 4QW, Phone: 0-20-72-24-22-95
9. Dead Souls Bookshop
© Aris Suwanmalee/stock.adobe.com
Dead Souls Bookshop is a small bookshop in Dunedin that specializes in second-hand books. Named after a satirical novel by the Russian author, Nikolai Gogol, Dead Souls Bookshop houses around 20,000 books that cover a variety of subjects and genres, ranging from biographies, novella, and fiction to non-fiction, history, children’s books, cookery and art, and travel guides. The charming quintessential secondhand book is within walking distance of several coffee shops where you can enjoy reading your purchases over a good cup of coffee.
393 Princes St, Dunedin, 9016, New Zealand, Phone: +64-21-02-70-85-40
10. Dog-Eared Books
Dog Eared Books is a cozy bookstore in Pennant Hills in New South Wales, Australia, that specializes in new releases and paperbacks. Established over ten years ago, the bookstore has several sections of both fiction and non-fiction, including a small section dedicated to old and rare books.
2/7 Hillcrest Rd, Pennant Hills NSW 2120, Phone: 02-98-75-22-77
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11. El Ateneo Grand Splendid
El Ateneo Grand Splendid is a striking bookstore in Barrio Norte, Buenos Aires, that takes visitors on a literary journey through the ages. Based on a nearly 100-year-old theater that was designed by architects Torres and Peró Armengol and built-in 1919, and which has been lovingly restored to its former glory, the bookstore exudes opulent Beaux-Arts décor with a red curtain hanging across the stage, cozy balconies overlooking the central space, and high painted ceilings. The multilevel bookstore uses the former theatre boxes as tiny reading rooms for visitors to snuggle up in with a book and a licensed café where visitors can sip tea, coffee, or a glass of wines while reading their purchases.
Av. Santa Fe 1860, C1123 CABA, Argentina, Phone : +54-11-48-13-60-52
12. Leakey’s Bookshop
© Leakey’s Bookshop
Leakey’s Bookshop is a quintessential bookstore-in-a-church in Inverness, Scotland that sells a fascinating collection of new and used books and rare prints. Hailed as the most beautiful bookshop in Scotland, Leakey’s is based in a beautifully converted old Gaelic church with beautiful stained-glass windows, religious furnishings, two floors of stacked literature, and a cozy wood-burning stove. Leakey’s sells a variety of old and new books, rare prints, and other literary materials such as classic volumes and old maps.
Church St, Inverness IV1 1EY, United Kingdom, Phone: +44-14-63-23-99-47
13. Libreria Acqua Alta
Tucked away on a tiny, centuries-old canal in Venice, Italy, Libreria Acqua Alta is a beautiful old bookstore with ancient stone walls lined with thousands of books and literary items. The cozy store is centered around an old gondola piled high with books and has a small patio with a staircase made from books out the back, which overlooks the canal on which the store is set. Other quirky highlights of the store include piles of old and water-damaged merchandise stored in bathtubs and waterproof bins and curled up cats in every open space. The boat-themed bookshop sells a vast selection of new and used books across multiple genres, and a charming café serves light bites, coffee, and tea.
Calle Lunga Santa Maria Formosa, 5176b, 30122 Venezia VE, Italy, Phone: +39-04-12-96-08-41
14. flowBOOKS x LilyBookshop
Founded in 1997, flowBOOKS is a modest independent rare, and secondhand bookshop that collects sells and recycles books, music, and other literary items such as antique-caliber books, classic novels, benchmark titles, and mostly bound hardcovers.
Kai Fung Mansion, 1F-G, No.189 - 205 Queen's Road Central, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong, Phone: +852-92-78-56-64
15. Livraria Da Vila
© Livraria Da Vila
Livraria da Vila is a refreshing combination of a bookstore, library, and art piece with beautifully-lit, atrium-style interiors, and bookshelves covered in glass. The sleek and sophisticated store features pivoting bookshelves that function as doors and which are illuminated at night, so passers-by can have a look at what is on offer. Spanning three floors, the stark white interior has black bookshelves lining the walls and stairways packed with a vast collection of books, magazines, urging visitors to pick up a book and start reading. There is an English language section with a superb selection of titles in both hardback and softcover, and the closest metro stations are Oscar Freire and Consolação.
Alameda Lorena, 1731, São Paulo, 01424-002, Brazil
16. Livraria Lello
Designed by renowned architect, Francisco Xavier Esteves and owned by bibliophile brothers, José and António Lello, Livraria Lello – also known as the Lello Bookstore - is a spectacular bookstore in Porto that is both a functional store and a work of art. Lined with walls of books, the store features elaborate wood and carvings busts of famous Portuguese writers, as well as stained-glass windows and a beautiful wooden staircase. Founded in 1869, Livraria Lello is one of the oldest bookstores in Portugal and has been featured in several scenes in the Harry Potter films.
R. das Carmelitas 144, 4050-161 Porto, Portugal, Phone: +35-12-22-00-20-37
17. Plural Bookshop (82 Book & Design Shop
© New Africa/stock.adobe.com
Opened in 2010, Plural Bookshop is a fun and whimsical bookshop in the heart of Bratislava in Slovakia that boasts an ingenious design and modern décor. Spanning only 1,800-square-foot, the small shop features several stepped platforms which double as seating, two continuous bookshelf walls packed with tomes, and auditorium arrangement that is ideal for readings, lectures, workshops, and concerts. The shop also has a casual coffee bar on the top level serving hot and cold drinks and light bites and a gallery with a skylight that flood the interior with natural light for reading.
Štefanovicova 2972/10, 811 04 Bratislava, Slovakia, Phone: +42-19-48-10-91-07
Readings is an independent bookstore with seven shops operating in Melbourne, Australia that sells books, magazines, music, and film. The chain has stores in Malvern, Carlton, Hawthorn, Doncaster, St Kilda, and the State Library Victoria, along with a specialty children’s and young adult bookshop in Carlton. In addition to selling a wide variety of literary material, the stores are a gathering place for literary minds to come together as events such as book launches and readings, author signings, lectures, symposiums, and more. The bookstore also offers three annual literary prizes for emerging Australian authors.
309 Lygon St, Melbourne, Victoria 3053, Australia, Phone: +61-3-93-47-66-33
19. Shakespeare and Company
Often described as the most famous bookstore in the world, Shakespeare and Company is a world-famous bookstore that was opened by Sylvia Beach in 1919 on the Rue de la Bûcherie in Paris and was a regular hangout for Ernest Hemingway, Ezra Pound, and James Joyce before World War II. The store was closed during the war as Sylvia Beach refused to sell books to the Nazis and was reopened in 1951 by George Whitman. Now, one of the most famous literary attractions in Europe, Shakespeare and Company is the only entirely English-language bookstore in Paris and is known as a mecca for English-speaking authors seeking Parisian inspiration. The store sells everything from first editions of timeless to poetry, fiction, and children’s books and hosts a variety of literary readings, workshops, and an annual festival throughout the year.
37 Rue de la Bûcherie, 75005 Paris, France, Phone: +33-1-43-25-40-93
20. Star Cat Books
Nestled in the Upper Valley of the Connecticut River in Bradford, Vermont, Star Cat Books is an independent bookstore that has been selling a variety of literary material for the past two decades. The store specializes in children’s books, science fiction, and local authors and hosts several events throughout the year, such as book launches and readings, author signings, lectures, symposiums, and more. Star Cat Books also sells its wares over the Internet with a collection of exotic and rare books and other materials available.
157 S Main St Box 924, Bradford, VT 05033, Phone: 80-22-22-58-26
21. The Strand
The Strand Bookstore in New York is a great independent bookstore that sells an excellent selection of both new and random second-hand bargains, rare books and hard-to-find collectibles. Located next to Union Square, the iconic store boasts beautifully curated aisles and shelves that are packed with an enormous selection of new, used, and rare books, and recently published titles, as well as one of the most diverse collections of art books in the city. The store also hosts a range of events throughout the year, such as book launches and readings, author signings, lectures, and its famous ‘books by the foot’ sales.
828 Broadway, New York, NY 10003, Phone: 21-24-73-14-52
22. Zhongshuge Bookstore
Located in the Zodi Plaza in the Binjiang District of Hangzhou, the Zhongshuge Bookstore is an awe-inspiring space that takes bookstore design to a new level. Spanning 1,300 square-meters across four levels, the strategically designed bookstore has quirky details such as optical illusions, zig-zagging stairs along the walls of books, shapes inspired by Chinese lanterns and lampshades, and mirrored ceilings to create an impression of an infinite space made up of books. Lower-ceilinged reading nooks offer cozy spaces in which to relax and read, and a welcoming children’s area also features floor-to-ceiling shelving and mirrored ceilings.
Shop 101 Building 4, Star Avenue, Binjiang District, Hangzhou, China
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