6. Brattle Book Shop, Boston Massachusetts
Since we’re already on the northern east-coast, let’s take a hop on over to New York’s rival city, Boston. This is where you’ll find this casual outdoor bookstore, The Brattle. This bookstore (the oldest used bookstore in the country) was founded in 1825 and is considered by locals to have the most character out of the many famous Boston literary hot spots: such as the bronze Make Way for Duckling statues of the Public Gardens, or the John Singer Sargent murals of the historic public library.
Ken gloss, the current proprietor after inheriting the store from his father, makes sure to bring out the outdoor book carts every single day if it isn’t snowing or raining. The sale lot itself is lined with the murals of authors such as Toni Morrison and Franz Kafka. These murals were added after the original space burned to the ground in 1980. But if you aren’t inclined to sort through the various outdoor titles on display, you can head right next door to the three-story shop; which should hold your attention for quite some time.
5. Lutyens & Rubinstein Book Shop, London England
Taking a quick hop across the pond, we make our way to this chic London bookstore. The surrounding neighborhood is filled with white store and apartment fronts, which only adds a hint of delight to the stylish appearance of the shop.
With wall-to-wall bookshelves and paperback birds and mobiles hanging from the ceiling, it’s easy to see how one could feel entranced by the atmosphere of Lutyens & Rubinstein. It’s not only warm and welcoming, but there are two floors of wonderful books to keep you occupied for hours.
4. Libreria Acqua Alta, Venice Italy
Leaving London, we now find ourselves in the ever beautiful city of Venice. Libreria Acqua Alta is located canal-side and is only a decade or so old. But lack of age doesn’t take away from this shops charm one bit.
Whether it be the four house cats roaming about and judging your book choices, or the steps created from stacks of strung together hardbacks, you won’t be able to help but feeling at home here. With the countless books stacked all over the place, (even from old bath tubs and an actual canal boat) you’ll find yourself browsing their selection for a good bit of time.
3. Atlantis Books, Santorini Greece
Taking a quick trip across the Mediterranean Sea, we arrive at this hand-painted outdoor bookstore in Santorini Greece. Atlantis Books is a top tourists attraction in the area—and with its postcard looks, we can sure see why.
This small shop sits right on the seaside cliffs and is famous for hosting its yearly book festival every November. The festival is full of artist and writers, and visitors come from all around to get a glimpse of this picturesque shop. Atlantis Books is undoubtedly one of Santorini’s most special establishments.
2. Libreria El Ateneo Grand Splendid, Buenos Aires Argentina
Better get cozy on the plane, it’s going to take a while to reach our next destination. Libreria El Ateneo Grand Splendid is one of the, if not the grandest bookstore in the entire world. While many of the bookstores on our list have been quiet, sleepy little shops, this publishing company-owned institution shines the brightest.
This store isn’t exactly independently owned, but it certainly is any book lovers dream literary attraction. With a library-book palace vibe, this bookstore sits where a once ritzy Italian-style theater was located. The balcony and orchestra chairs are now replaced by thousands of rows of books throughout its two floors. And with its hand-painted ceilings and gold classical decor, it attracts up to 3,000 visitors a day. Maybe if you’re lucky, you’ll get to visit too.
1. Shakespeare and Company, Paris France
Finally, to end our trip we head off to the most famous book shop in the world, Shakespeare and Company in Paris. Situated along the Seine River, this store has been one of the biggest spots for some of literature’s most famous names. During the 1960s, swarms of popular authors frequented this shop. Such as, Allen Ginsberg, William Burroughs, Anais Nin, and James Baldwin. But if we go back a bit further in time, you’ll see that the writers who frequented the shop way back then weren’t just famous, they were some of the greatest authors of the 20th century.
Originally, Shakespeare and Company was opened by Sylvia Beach in 1919, and was located a few blocks away from its current position. It was at this previous location—and what started its historical significance—where writers and artist from the Lost Generation like James Joyce, Ezra Pound, Gertrude Stein, T.S. Eliot, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Ernest Hemingway hung out. Joyce even going so far as to make it his office.
Most famously, Beach would go on to publish Joyce’s controversial book, Ulysses, here in 1922 (controversial at the time because it was banned in the United States and Britain). It has been said that this original Shakespeare and Company was closed down in December of 1941 because Beach denied a German officer the last copy of Joyce’s Finnegans Wake during WWII.
Whatever the case may have been, its current shop was opened by George Whitman in 1951, and would be renamed once more as Shakespeare and Company after Beach’s death in 1964. Nowadays, the store is a great place to escape the busy streets of Paris and just relax, reading one of the many heavily used novels on hand. Of course, you may still run into the occasional famous writer while picking up some new or used titles—which completely fill the two-story shop.
Well, there you have it. We hope you found some new destinations to add to your bucket list. Until next time, write something worth reading, and read something that makes you want to write.
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List of bookstore websites:
- Caliban Book Shop
- Zhongshuge Bookstore
- City Lights Booksellers
- Scorpio Books
- Livraria Lello
- Ler Devagar
- The Strand
- The Brattle
- Lutyens & Rubinstein
- Libreria Acqua Alta
- Atlantis Books
- Libreria El Ateneo Grand Splendid
- Shakespeare and Company