No two bookshops are created equal. Some are simply cooler than others, and these bookstores exist to prove just that fact.
1. Librería Acqua Alta – Venice, Italy
Librería Acqua Alta, which literally means “library of high water,” is a nautical-themed bookshop with a massive selection of new and old books, all quirkily stashed in old gondolas, canoes, bathtubs, tanks, and other items that you never thought of storing books in. And yes, the boats do float when the waters of the famous Venetian canals flood the shop!
2. Shakespeare and Company – Paris, France
Shakespeare and Company is revered as Paris’ most iconic bookshop and is considered the world’s most famous independent bookstore. Facing the Seine River, opposite Notre Dame, it provides any guest the ultimate literary experience at the heart of Paris with its cozy interiors and shelves, well-stocked with English-language books.
3. Daikanyama T-Site – Tokyo, Japan
This award-winning complex of interlinked buildings is a visually stunning, modern bookshop that no literati would want to miss. Made up of three building wings that meet along a 55-meter aisle tagged as Magazine Street, Daikanyama T-Site houses a jaw-dropping collection of books, movies, and music.
4. Cafebrería El Péndulo – Polanco – Mexico City, Mexico
This bookstore cum café in Mexico City sure knows how to bring the outdoors in. Plants give the Polanco branch of Cafebrería El Péndulo a burst of green, exuding a rustic, homey vibe that will compel you to stay a bit longer in the company of good books and great food. They serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner, which you can enjoy while listening to live music, poetry, or stand-up comedy–depending on what the show is during your visit.
5. Librería El Ateneo Grand Splendid – Buenos Aires, Argentina
Buenos Aires is quite proud of their Librería El Ateneo, and here’s why: it might just be the grandest, most stunning bookshop you’ll ever visit in your lifetime. A theater converted into a bookstore, it marries the concepts of the stage and literature. The place has kept most of the theater’s original design and elements, including the velvet curtain, the carvings, balconies, and painted ceilings. To accommodate guests, the former theater boxes have been turned into reading rooms. A café can also be found on the stage, where a pianist plays music to complete the theatrical mood.
6. Atlantis Books – Santorini, Greece
The brainchild of two friends who noticed that Santorini didn’t have a bookshop, Atlantis Books can be found in an abandoned village house that has since been transformed into a sun-kissed book haven overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. Every now and then, the bookshop hosts events like poetry readings and open-air cinema film viewings.
7. Bart’s Books – Ojai, California, USA
Remember that cute bookstore in the Emma Stone flick Easy A? Well, it’s called Bart’s Books and you can find it in Ojai California. To date, it is the largest independently owned and operated outdoor bookstore in the U.S. If you want a good deal, pick up one, or a couple, of the books that line the outer part of the shop. They don’t cost more than a dollar and are for sale on the honor system.
8. Waanders In De Broeren – Zwolle, The Netherlands
Located in a small municipality northeast of Amsterdam, Waanders In De Broeren takes the guise of a 15th-century gothic cathedral from the outside. Inside, it serves as a three-story sprawling home to rows and rows of books. In respect to the church, the structure’s original architecture and ornaments, such as its sophisticated ceiling paintings and an organ dating back to the early 1800s, were preserved.