Thursday, March 5, 2015

Top 10 Bookstores in the World


Livraria Lello, Porto, Portugal 
The neo-Gothic façade of this former library barely hints at the grandeur inside of carved wood, gilded pillars, ornamented ceilings, and a gorgeous red staircase lit by a stained-glass atrium. The century-old bookshop features more than 100,000 different books in many languages, including English translations of Portuguese talents. 

Last Bookstore, Los Angeles
If the Last Bookstore Downtown was really the last bookstore, we'd be ok. Currently housed in what used to be an old bank building with marble columns and giant doors, the store first began in a loft apartment and has since expanded to include a record shop, coffee bar and mezzanine level solely dedicated to $1 books. It is the largest independent bookstore in Southern California. You can sell or trade old books here, pick up new ones, grab a record or a cup of coffee, and attend a myriad of events including readings, book signings, writer's groups, open mic nights and concerts. 

Barter Books, England

This bookstore attracted attention for its role in discovering and producing the now famous Keep Calm and Carry On poster. Housed in an old Victorian railway station, Barter Books has a living room vibe, complete with rugs, a crackling fireplaces in the winter, toys for kids, a model railway acting as a link between the book columns of the central room, and comfy seats. A vast selection of secondhand books makes it even more irresistible.

Cafebrería El Péndulo, Mexico City

Shopping for books is almost beside the point at Cafebrería El Péndulo, which hosts live music, poetry readings, stand-up comedy, and other events in a beautiful space with balconies and lush plants. There are many locations throughout Mexico City, its Zona Rosa shop stands out for its huge selection of English titles. 

Shakespeare and Co., Paris

Gertrude Stein, Ernest Hemingway, and their literary contemporaries famously hung out at this Left Bank bookstore overlooking the Seine. Shakespeare & Co., one of Paris’s many icons, continues to be a bohemian refuge, attracting tourists and expats. Writers can even bunk here for a few days or weeks, in exchange for a couple of hours’ worth of work around the shop. The bookstore also hosts book readings, writers’ meetings, and Sunday tea.


Books & Books, Coral Gables, Florida
This Miami-area bookstore is especially known for its great selection of art titles and is housed in a stunning building from the 1920's. No local author considers himself “made” until he’s read at Books & Books, which has endless special events and book signings. 


Books for Cooks, Melbourne

Indulge your inner MasterChef (or at least light the spark) at this indie bookstore with a mix of new, secondhand, antique, and out-of-print classics as well as the latest celebrity-chef blockbusters, biographies, and collections of food criticism. Anything you want to read about food can be found here. The cherry on the cake is the wonderful service, which should be no surprise. Books for Cooks is owned and run by food lovers and chefs.

Bart’s Books, Ojai, CA
When owner Richard Bartinsale’s collection of books became so large that there was no room left in his house, he began arranging them as a few shelves on a footpath. Customers left payment in coffee cans. That was in 1964. Nowadays, he runs a full-fledged open-air bookstore, with courtyards, couches, coffee, and sunny weather to boot. It’s a labyrinth of mostly used books, including the delightful “kitchen” area of Bartinsale’s former home (for cookbooks, naturally) and a “gallery” with art books.

Dominicanen Bookstore, Maastricht, Holland

This heavenly bookshop-in-a-church is truly an inspiring space, with soaring grand stone pillars, alcoves set up as reading nooks, and views from the top shelf along the nave of the church. Settle in with a good book at the café (where the former choir sang)—just be prepared to be distracted by the ceiling’s ornate medieval frescoes.


El Ateneo Grand Splendid, Buenos Aires

The poetry of Jorge Luis Borges and the rhythms of the tango come together at El Ateneo, which has played many roles: first a theater that hosted tango legends like Carlos Gardel; then a cinema; and now a seller of books and music. The majestic interior of the nearly century-old building retains its original rounded balconies, ornate trimmings, frescoed ceiling, and a stage (now a café) with plush red curtains.