There’s nothing quite like the smell of a fresh, new book or the feel of a watermarked cover on an equally lovable used one. Whether new or old, all books are beautiful in their own, and there’s nothing better than seeing them lined up and ready for devouring in your favorite bookstore. At the risk of sounding cheesy, every bookworm can agree there’s something magical about strolling through aisles of books. You can pick up a book or two (or twenty), find a cozy corner to hide out in, and tuck into the folds of a whole new world. Given our undying love for bookstores, it’s tragic to think that bookstores could be a dying breed. Thankfully, there is hope. These bookshops opt for a truly unique book buying experience. Between cell phone free book bars and shops that provide an echo of another era, these places defy any waning bookshop culture.
Libreria in London, England
Image courtesy of Cool Hunting
London is home to an endless number of amazing bookstores, many of which house more tourists than books. Libreria, the newest noteworthy bookstore in town, opened just shy of a week ago. Inspired by a short story by Jorge Louis Borges, the store is unique in both its composition and culture. Here you won’t find cut and paste categories like fiction and fantasy. You also won’t find lattes or Wi-Fi. Instead, you’ll browse through intriguingly vague sections like “enchantment for the disenchanted” and sip whiskey, pinky up high. This bookshop creates a culture that goes against the grain of an in-and-out, search-find-buy philosophy. Here you can slow down, mull about, and enjoy the free drinks.
Selexyz Dominicanen in Maastricht, Netherlands
Image courtesy of Urban Ghost Media
Looking for a ‘religious’ book experience? Look no further. In the heart of the Netherlands, and the heart of a 700 year old church nonetheless, the Selexyz Dominicanen houses shelves upon shelves of books. The church has been appropriated to serve as a bookstore with newly built staircases and elevators, but much of the architecture is still intact. If it suits you, you’re more than welcome to pray to your favorite authors as you rediscover your faith in bookstores.
Word on Water (The London Bookbarge) in various places around London, England
Image courtesy of Barncott Press
You don’t want to rush through a great book, so why would you rush through the place that houses them? Instead, you should probably get lost at sea with both your book and your bookstore. Word on Water gets us. Floating somewhere in England, this bookstore makes you leave land behind, gussy up those sea legs, and enter the watery, wobbly terrain of a boat. On board you’ll find an array of carefully curated and affordable books, live jazz music, poetry slams, and maybe even a cute little pup named Star. Pretty much all the ambience you could dream of to enjoy a book at sea.
Bart’s Books in Ojai, California, U.S.A.
Image courtesy of Chasingtheturtle
Books and sunshine makes for a happy bookworm. Like many of the previously listed book venues, this store offers a unique landscape for reading and encourages visitors to slow down and enjoy. Serving the California clichés all too well, the bookstore has organic wine and celebrity sightings a plenty. It also boasts the title of “largest outdoor bookstore in the U.S.” So, buy a book (the store goes by the honor system), sip some locally grown grapes, and absorb all the vitamin D you can get before hitting the highway and coasting down the 101 freeway. Mmm, paradise.
Montague Book Mill in Montague, MA, U.S.A.
Image courtesy of The Apron Archives
Keeping it U.S. domestic for the time being, let’s move East to Massachusetts. Here you’ll (hopefully) find the Montague Bookmill. With a tagline like ‘books you don’t need in a place you can’t find,’ what’s not to love? The store offers hidden gems in an even more hidden location, and wary website directions that could just as easily lead you to Dwight Schrute’s Beet Farm. Specializing in Academic books and secluded spaces, this one is definitely a gem worth searching for.
Coney Island Book Store and Barber Shop in Brooklyn, NY, U.S.A.
Image courtesy of Library Thing
Just a little further East we hit the Coney Island Book Store and Barber Shop. Although much of this list incites us to be the best lazy readers we can be, this shop is about efficiency. Haircut and a good read? Two birds, one stone. For whatever reason, this funny kind of symbiosis feels natural to Coney Island. Here you can pick up an affordable read while your barber trims those luscious locks. If you have an exceptionally tangled mess, you can probably even get a few chapters deep before paying!
Libreria Alta Acqua in Venice, Italy
Imge courtesy of Creative Boom
Yes, yes ‘ooh’ and ‘ahh’ away – this shop has been called one of the most beautiful bookstores in the world and were not about to disagree. It’s hard to complain in any bookstore, let alone one that sits on the sun-drenched canals of Venice and carries ruminating smells of the sea, old peeling books, and…pizza? I think that’s Italian pizza we’re smelling. The shop sells books new and old, and across all languages. Just don’t get your hopes up for any kind of Dewey Decimal system here. It’s a messy, glorious free-for-all.
Wild Rumpus in Minneapolis, MN, U.S.A.
Image Courtesy of Chalsey Falk
Although it may not have the foreign charm of Italy, Wild Rumpus does house a life of its own. This widely unknown bookstore is home to bunnies, chinchillas, cats, and a giant scary tarantula named Thomas Jefferson – naturally. The bathroom is secretly a glow in the dark aquarium when you dim the lights, and don’t be surprised if something happens to scurry past you while you’re in there. After all, the store is home to roughly 20 animals. It’s a petting zoo and a bookstore, all wrapped up in one, so make sure to bring your reading glasses along with the anti-histamines.
Pop-up bookstores on the beach, Everywhere!
This one can’t exactly be google mapped, but it is definitely something that should be a staple in every beach town. After all, when you finish your book but you aren’t ready to leave the beach, wouldn’t it be great to have a shelf full of literature to come to the rescue? One of our favorite pop-ups was the Ikea sponsored pop-up on Bondi Beach, Sydney. Since this one-day appearance of books on the beach in Australia, other cities have taken up the same idea, creating beachy bookstores in Abu Dhabi, Tel Aviv, and Siene-Maritime.
(Sydney)Image courtesy of Falv
(Abu Dhabi) Image courtesy of Roustourisnnews
Want a more permanent store? Head over to Venice Beach’s Small World Books in California for a near-beach experience. It’s about as close to the beach as you can get!