Wednesday, March 18

Inspiring Bookshops Around The World

My mother shared her love of reading with me. I grew up loving to read. I married a man who loves to read. We gave birth to two children who love to read. We are a family of readers and bibliophiles — book lovers. I am extremely grateful for this. 

A good date night for Mr.P and me is dinner, a trip to one of our favorite independent bookstores, a little late night music and maybe a trip to a coffee house or the frozen custard shop — depending on the weather!

 When books began to become available over the Internet, on a Kindle, iPod and Smart phones, it made me just a little bit nervous. Would the written word vanish? Bookstores disappear? Are there to be no more libraries? What would we do if one day there were no more books to hold in our hands, flip through and breathe in either the newness or the musty smell of an old book? I know I am NOT alone in my passion for books. 

While traveling I keep my peepers peeping, on the hunt for charming bookstores. Mostly independent sellers. I collect old editions of beloved novels from the lands we travel to. They are a constant reminder of the places we've been, the book shops we visited and the delightful people we met while there. 

If you are planning a trip soon, and are a lover of book shops as well, below are some shops that sell books I think are worth crossing oceans for…  ENJOY!


Libreria Alta Acqua, Venice

A little sign outside says, “Welcome to the Most Beautiful Bookshop in the World”. And it just might be. Step inside and find a full-sized gondola smack in the middle of the shop, overflowing with books — how cool is that? Head to the back and take a seat in front of the open doors; the canal at your feet, water gently splashing against the doorstep as you flick through a book. Believe it or not, during winter, the shop floods as the owners work vigorously to stack books high and deep! Alta Acqua is not a place you’ll find in your average guidebook and most visitors to the floating city will come and go without ever finding this treasure trove. Make sure you’re not one of those visitors!
Alta Acqua, Sestiere Castello, 5176/B  30122 Venice, Italy.


Bart’s Books, Ojai, California

Founded in 1964, Bart’s Books is a beautiful outdoor bookstore located in Ojai, CA. Where else but in California would someone open an outdoor bookstore?? You can sip lemonade in the courtyard surrounded by a maze of bookshelves, play a game of chess in the shade or read a short story under the apple tree. Not just a desirable al fresco space, Bart’s Books has heart. Gathering here for art shows and weekly community events is a bit of a local tradition.
Bart’s Books, 302 W. Matilija St., Ojai, California 93023.


Atlantis, Santorini, Greece

Without a doubt, Santorini is one of the most beautiful islands in the Mediterranean, but not exactly the place you’d think to go looking for a charming English bookshop. Located in the basement of one of Santorini’s traditional white houses, Atlantis Books was conceived after two friends spent a week on Santorini and decided to open a bookshop and not go home! A good bookstore was the one thing missing from their paradise. It has become a haven for readers and writers alike. A sort of 'in-the-know' meet-up place for travelling book lovers, Atlantis Books hosts festivals and sunset readings on their terrace overlooking the sea. It just doesn't get any dreamier for this bibliophile and her sweetie — now that's a date night!
Atlantis Books, Main Marble Road, T.K. 84702 Oía, Kikladhes, Santorini, Greece. Check out their Facebook!


Word on The Water, London

London’s famous floating second-hand bookshop, Word on the Water is a Dutch barge turned book carrier that travels the canals for two weeks at a time, stopping at various locations such as Camden Lock, Angel, Hackney and Paddington. The books are donated by the public and charity bookshops but that’s not to say you won’t find some great classics, contemporary fiction, and some quirky stuff you might never find anywhere else. You never know what you'll find; a small jazz band, cats, pink flamingos and something to drink as you wander this kitchy book barge.
Find Word on the Water's location via updates on their Facebook.


The Abbey Bookstore, Paris 

The Shakespeare & Co in Paris is world-renowned for its old charm, its Hemingway connection and that magical feeling you get while ducking and squeezing through its nooks and crannies. There’s just one problem: it’s always flooded with tourists. And that’s where the Abbey Bookshop comes in. Tinier, equally charming and nostalgic, this Canadian, English-language bookstore is your off-the-beaten path alternative. Beautiful books piled haphazardly to the ceiling, warm lighting, jazz music playing in the background  Mr.P and I can easily spend an afternoon in this wondrous shop. Cozying up with an old treasure found tumbled from a shelf, listen to jazz in Paris....be still my heart. The little-known neighborhood gem is funnily enough just a few blocks from the Shakespeare & Co  but don’t tell anyone there! 
The Abbey Bookshop, 29 Rue de la Parcheminerie, 75005 Paris.


Selexyz Dominicanen, Maastricht, Holland

This fantastically gorgeous bookstore is housed in a 13th-century Dominican church in the center of Maastricht, Holland. The beautiful of sanctuary was abandoned and left to ruin in 1794 when Napoleon Bonaparte invaded. After two centuries of neglect, it has spent time as a warehouse, an archive and most recently used as an indoor bike pound by the locals. This once forgotten church is now the holiest of book sanctuaries, and beautiful to boot, with much of the original artwork and architecture restored. Many have a problem with a church being used as a place for commerce but I could not disagree more. It's not the building that makes a church, it's the people  and besides, who's looking at the books when they could be looking up. Stunning surroundings, it's a must see!
Selexyz Dominicanen, Dominicanerkerkstraat 1 , Maastricht , 6211 CZ , Netherlands.


Barter Books, Alnwick, England

Located in the perfect setting, an old English train station, Barter Books is a second-hand bookshop located in the historic English market town of Alnwick, Northumberland owned and run by Stuart and Mary Manley. It has over 200,000 visitors a year, 40% of whom are from outside the area, and is one of the largest second-hand bookstores in Europe. It is considered a local tourist attraction and has been described as "the British Library of second-hand bookshops". Barter Books has a cozy living room vibe, thanks to rugs, 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 amid a vast selection of secondhand books on a variety of subjects. Barter Books hit the headlines in 2000 when the owner discovered, in a box of old books bought at an auction, an old WWII poster from 1939. The slogan, "Keep Calm and Carry On" and the simple design has turned it into an international phenomenon. It has graced the walls of this treasured bookstore ever since.
Barter Books, Alnwick Station, Northumberland NE66 2NP, England. Find them on Facebook.


Livraria Lello, Porto, Portugal

One of the oldest bookstores in Portugal, Livraria Lello has been classified as the third best bookstore in the world. Featuring a staircase to heaven, beautifully intricate wooden panels and columns and a stunning stained glass ceilings, Livraria Lello is definitely a must-see in Porto. The century-old bookshop features more than 100,000 different titles in several languages, including English translations of Portuguese writers. You’ll also find magazines, CDs, antique books, and a large selection on Porto itself. One of the best-kept secrets in Porto is the four-table coffeeshop on the second floor of the Livraria Lello – there’s coffee, port, and cigars. It’s the perfect place to stop for a moment before returning to the bustling downtown life outside; or to spend a long time browsing a few books and soaking up the opulence this bookstore has to offer.
Livraria Lello, Rua das Carmelitas 144, Porto, Portugal.


Leakey's Bookshop, Inverness, Scotland

With such a peaceful purpose for an unused church, Leakey's is Scotland's largest second hand bookstore. Opened in 1972 in Inverness, and formerly home to St Mary’s Gaelic Church (built 1792), the historic premises are a perfect environment to browse through rows of tall wooden shelves stuffed haphazardly with books on every subject imaginable. From the moment you walk into this bookstore it's an experience of all senses. In the middle of the shop is a wonderful fireplace which heats the shop as it adds to the feel of the place. Make sure to climb the spiral staircase to the lovely little café where you can have lunch or a snack while you enjoy reading your book. 
Leakey's Bookshop, Church Street, Inverness, Highland IV1 1EY, Scotland. Find them on Facebook.


John K. King Used and Rare Books, Detroit

If you're a bookworm from the good old US of A you are most likely aware of John King — king of the used book world! This hulking Detroit warehouse is a treasure trove, boasting a collection of “one million books, give or take a dozen” in more than 900 subjects. The store’s hand-painted sign and giant glove (housed in an old glove factory) are iconic sights for those taking the freeway in downtown Detroit, and the store has a reputation the world over. Not only do they buy out estates and libraries, but from individuals walking in selling old books. If you can't find it here you're most likely not going to find it anywhere — seriously, it is that grand! 
John K. King Used & Rare Books, 901 W. Lafayette Blvd., Detroit, Illinois. Find them on Facebook.

There are so many more wonderful bookstores out there. Do you have a favorite? Share with us in the comments below. I'm always looking for a prized book shop to wander through. ENJOY!


THE DOMESTIC CURATOR
RONDA

2 comments:

  1. I don't know which on is my favorite. They're all beautiful. I'd love spending time in any of them, but maybe Greece the most. Inverness is on my bucket list, so I'll be sure to visit that bookstore too.

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    Replies
    1. Oh Christina, the bookstore on Santorini is my favorite as well. Not because of it's vast inventory, but the setting is just so stinking beautiful!

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