Ah, books... Some are 'allergic' to them, some don't mind them, and then there are those who are simply too attached!
If you consider yourself a bookworm, you'd understand that feeling of excitement and thrill rushing through your veins when you discover a good bookshop!
You know that's your spot. You know you'll be a frequent visitor. Heck, you can already see yourself standing there between the bookshelves, browsing through the variety of reading materials they have, flipping through the pages of one publication after another until you lose track of time.
If that sounds like you, well, brace yourself, fellow book lovers; we present to you a list of must-visit bookshops all around the world that will make you go gaga!
With the rich collections they have to offer to fulfill your reading desire and the unique style of their shops -- be it gorgeous architecture or cosy setting of their place -- these are the places where the experience of book-hunting sessions is taken to a whole new level!
Who knows? Those of you who are not bibliophiles yourselves may turn into one by visiting these places!
1. El Ateneo Grand Splendid, Buenos Aires
El Ateneo Grand Splendid is a bookshop located in Buenos Aires, Argentina. However, one should note that this is no ordinary bookshop. The history of the building goes way back.
Back in the day, almost about 100 years ago, the building functioned as a theatre known then as Teatro Gran Splendid.
Impresario Max Glücksmann, the man whom the building was initially designed for, had acquired the expertise of architects Peró and Torres Armengol to execute the task. Not only that, he even had the ceiling frescoed by Italian artist, Nazareno Orlandi.
Troiano Troiani's caryatids were also featured there. It's safe to say that it was a case of everything made grand! From opera shows to movie screenings to radio broadcasting, it has all been done at this majestic building.
Fast forward to the late 90s, due to the unfortunate state of Argentina's economy, the long-standing structure was set to be demolished.
However, with Grupo Ilhsa, the owner of the Ateneo bookshop chain, deciding to rent it, the building remains. They did their part in renovating and restoring the place to convert it into a bookshop.
While the cinema seats have been replaced with bookshelves, the loges, lighting, thick curtains and fine details constructed in the past remains.
While you're there, you should check out the cafe too! It takes the place of where the stage was before. In the afternoons, a live piano performance takes place. You will definitely get the vibe of a grand theater when you visit!
Just for the record, the amphitheater's space, which at one time was a seating area that could cater to 1,050 people at a time, is now home to approximately 120,000 book titles! How splendid!
Av. Santa Fe 1860, 1123 CABA, Argentina
Fri & Sat: 10am—12am
2. Books for Cooks, London
Calling all food lovers and/or cooking enthusiast! This is the place to be!
Established in 1983, Books for Cooks has made their mark as a well-known cookbook shop. The fact that they do ship their books all over the world helps them grow their clientele on a global scale.
Besides the regular recipe books, they also offer books on history, art, nutrition, chemistry, and the list goes on! You'll also be able to find gourmet cards and posters here.
They boast over 8,000 titles in their collection, but what makes Books for Cooks so special is the practice of such a brilliant concept like no other.
They have a test kitchen at the back of the shop where the in-house chefs will whip up dishes that are based on the recipes of the cookbook chosen from their shelves!
They get their ingredients from none other than the nearby Portobello market. It's like making a dream come true!
One minute it's the ingredients based on words in the cookbooks with its how-to explanation, the next you see the final product come to life. They are meant for you to sample too.
With different menus every day (which they always post on their Twitter account), the possibilities of gastronomic delights one could try here is endless. Many have dubbed Books for Cooks as 'the best smelling shop in the world'.
Well, if this whole concept doesn't get you all excited, we don't know what will!
They also conduct cooking workshops. From French to Indian dishes, their workshop consists of international flavours. Yes, as participants, you’d get to taste the food too. Yummy!
4 Blenheim Cres, Notting Hill, London W11 1NN, UK
Tue-Sat: 10am —6pm
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3. Libreria Acqua Alta, Venice
As a bookshop owner, how do you deal with maintaining your business when flooding is an event that hits your place on a yearly basis? Well, you keep all the reading materials you possess in bathtubs, waterproof basins, rowing boats and a gondola, of course.
And that's exactly how they do it at Libreria Acqua Alta in Venice, arguably one of the most recognisable bookshops in the world.
Their wide collection of art books, biographies, history books magazines, dictionaries, maps and oh, you name it, are kept (or rather, stuffed) in several rooms.
They have new materials and used ones too. Books of all sorts of languages can be found here. There is something for everyone. You just need to search for it.
It could be in the room where the books are stacked on the normal-sized gondola or in the other room where the books are filling in the bathtub -- you get the picture.
This peculiar way of presenting their products come in handy when a flood hits the area. The publications stored at Libreria Acqua Alta would be unharmed, as they float above the water. How brilliant!
This bookshop is also furnished in a truly unique way. Old encyclopedias, which are no longer purchased by the masses, are given a new purpose.
Some are utilised to make mesmerising steps in the staircases while others are used for their colourfulness to cover the walls of the outer courtyards, creating an interesting sight for all. Instagram-worthy too!
Not only is the bookshop located in an area that gets hit by flood every now and then, it is situated in a city where water is what makes the road. It definitely sounds risk, but the people at Libreria Acqua Alta (it literally means Library of High Water) sure know how to keep their business staying afloat!
If you're ever in the area, you should totally drop by and check it out for yourself. They have got some cute cats too!
Calle Longa S. Maria Formosa, 5176/b, 30122 Castello, Venezia VE, Italy
Mon-Sun: 9am —8pm
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4. Mr B's Emporium, Bath
Nic and Juliette, both lawyers then, were on their honeymoon when the thought of setting up a bookshop occurred to them. The Elliot Bay Book Company, the bookshop they had just visited on the previous day had inspired them.
In 2006, they began their new venture in the world of books with the establishment of their bookshop, Mr B's Emporium.
Today, many would agree that Mr B's Emporium is the definition of book haven. To date, they have been recognised as the UK's best independent bookshop - twice!
In 2015, they made it on The Guardian's list of best bookshops in the world. Impressive feats indeed. Surely, they must be doing many things right!
To begin with, the cosy setting of their place is sure to give you that warm and fuzzy feeling of comfort.
Yes, they do have many books from many different genres. Think you could do with some recommendations? Not to worry! Their staffs are more than willing to help.
In fact, a Reading Spa is among the services they offer. In case you have no idea what that is, well, it is a service that allows you to get a personalised recommendation of books that suits what you seek!
You will sit down with their team of booksellers over coffee or tea, and of course, some good, yummy cake in the bibliotherapy room.
From the conversation, they will learn and understand what you are looking for. Soon after, you will be presented with books that are carefully chosen to meet your preference.
The Reading Spa package also includes a £55 (RM293) token for you to spend on the books as well as a £5 (RM27) gift card for the next time you visit the shop.
In addition to that, you'll also be going home with a Mr B's mug and cloth bag. Sounds like a great deal to us!
14-15 John St, Bath BA1 2JL, UK
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5. Livraria Lello, Porto
If you're ever in Porto, Portugal, Livraria Lello is a must-visit destination!
Also known as Lello Bookstore, and Livraria Chardron, this bookshop has been around for more than a decade now.
The credit of the building's design goes to Francisco Xavier Esteves, a Portuguese engineer. The exterior is of Neo-Gothic style. At the main entrance of the building, you'll be greeted by a mural of two figures, which represent Science and Art. José Bielman was the man who painted the figures.
Step inside and you'll see that Art Nouveau is what it's all about: magnificent works of art.
From the stained glass skylight to the painted plasters, which realistically imitates sculpted wood surfaces, the interior decorations are indeed fascinating.
The sweeping red staircase is a major attraction too. It is without a doubt, one of the most -- if not the most -- beautiful bookshops in the world!
If you are a hardcore 'Harry Potter' fan, you probably have heard this rumour before. But for those of you who haven't got a clue, well, it is said that J.K. Rowling, who used to reside in Porto during the 90s, was a regular at this bookshop and that Hogwarts Library was inspired by this place.
There certainly is some resemblance, if you ask us.
It is not a surprise that a vast collection of Portuguese fictions and non-fictions are available here at Livraria Lello. But it's worth to note that they also carry many English, French and Spanish titles. Translations of Portuguese compositions and poetries are also being sold here.
Livraria Lello is where you can enjoy both architectural and literary masterpieces.
R. das Carmelitas 144, 4050-161 Porto, Portugal
Sat & Sun: 10am—7pm
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6. Bart's Books, Ojai
Richard Bartinsdale founded Bart's Books in the year 1964 when he realised he had way too many books.
He started off by stationing bookshelves along the sidewalk of his place to allow passersby to conveniently browse through the collections he has. If they'd like to buy any, they can just drop their payment in the coffee cans placed on top of the bookshelves. Yes, the honour system was and still is practiced here.
Bookshelves are also still placed on the sidewalk to this day. It is very handy to execute business transactions even when the shop is closed. Today, however, instead of coffee cans, they have coin boxes at their door.
Besides the unique tradition, Bart's Books is also known for its reputation as 'the largest independently owned and operated outdoor bookshop in the United States of America'.
Since its inception, Bart's Books has been home to almost one million books! They have both new and used books for sale.
The prices of the books sold here range from thirty-five cent (yes!!!) to thousands of dollars. Come check them out for yourself!
302 W Matilija St, Ojai, CA 93023, USA
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7. Poplar Kid's Republic Bookstore, Beijing
As the name suggests, Poplar Kid's Republic Bookstore is a bookshop that specifically caters to children.
Looking at the colourful and whimsical interior design of the place, the inner child in us is getting all hyped up!
This place started operating in October 2005 with the purpose to use illustrated books as a medium to nurture cultural awareness among the little ones. You can find thousands and thousands of illustrated storybooks here.
The bookshop features reading area and play area for the comfort of the patrons. On the weekends, storytelling session and arts and crafts activities are conducted too.
Unlike your regular bookshop, here, children climbing the shelves are not an issue. They're allowed to do so! Where was this when we were at the appropriate age to act like crazy excited kids when we visit? Oh well, we're still going!
39 E 3rd Ring Rd Middle, GuoMao, Chaoyang Qu, Beijing Shi, China
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8. Book and Bed Tokyo
Book and Bed Tokyo goes by the theme 'accommodation bookshop'. However, do not make the mistake of going there to buy books.
Book and Bed Tokyo is not actually a bookshop. In their words, the phrase of their theme is "just an expression". Lodging is their main business.
However, they do not provide the usual comfy setting that makes up for a good night sleep. No, there is none of those spacious room with pampering mattresses or soft pillows.
Instead, they have capsule beds and in each cubbyhole, a reading light, electrical outlet, a depository and a curtain are provided. But don't turn away just yet.
Book lovers should be able to appreciate this place. With books surrounding the area, they are determined to create that sensation of falling asleep as you are carrying out your hobby.
Simply picture yourself reading and reading up to a point where you feel sleepy and yet, you still continue reading. Eventually, you'll just fall asleep.
It's that experience that they are trying to create for you with during your stay here.
Manga fans, they have a lot in store for you! They also have books by Murakami, some English publications as well as classic Japanese pieces.
You can also visit their place during daytime even if you are not staying over for the night. Their outlets are located in Ikebukuro, Asakusa, Kyoto and Fukuoka.
Go on and book your bed!
(Ikebukuro) 1-17-7, Lumiere buillding 7th floor, Nishi Ikebukuro, Toshima-ku Tokyo, Japan 171-0021
(Asasuka) Pagoda Asakusa 6th FL 16-9 2-Chome Kaminarimon Taito, Tokyo, Japan 111-0034
(Kyoto) 9F Kamogawa Building, 200 , Nakanocho-Nishiiru Higashiyama-ku Kyoto, Japan 605-0075
(Fukuoka) FUKUOKA NEW PARCO 6th Floor 2 Chome 11-1 Tenjin, Chuo-ku, Fukuoka, Japan 810-0001
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9. 10 Corso Como Books Design Shop, Milan
Famous for its reputation as a sophisticated shopping complex in Milan, Italy, 10 Corso Como certainly has a lot to offer to its visitors.
It is, after all, a one-stop destination with a fashion boutique, cafe, gallery, small hotel, and yes, even a bookshop all under one roof!
The bookshop, which started operating in 1991, is situated on the upper level, adjacent to Galleria Carla Sozzani.
The chic design of the bookshop's interior will no doubt elevate your book-hunting session to a deluxe experience. The reading materials one can find here are mainly those that fall under the art, architecture, literature, design, graphics, and fashion category.
Photography and music from all around the globe are also their forté. Feel free to survey their goods for "browsing is encouraged".
So, to all of you artistic folks out there, this bookshop has got to be on your bucket list!
Corso Como, 10, 20154 Milano MI, Italy
Mon-Sun, 12-2.30pm and 7.30pm-11.30pm
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10. BookXcess, Cyberjaya
Once upon a time, there was a car park. Today, however, the car park has transformed into a spacious bookshop, which is home to over 250,000 books!
This bookshop is called BookXcess.
For those who are wondering, yes, it is from the same company that owns the bookshops in Amcorp Mall, Fahrenheit 88 and The Starling mall.
This one, however, is located in Tamarind Square, Cyberjaya, and it is open throughout the day and night. No joke, y’all. It is, in fact, Malaysia’s first 24-hour bookshop!
The bookshop also features a studying/reading area which the public could utilise for free! Of course, they have event spaces and children’s area too.
The café should also be opened by July of this year.
The genres available here seem endless! On one corner, you’d find yourself flipping through the pages of Elvis Presley’s biography, and a few steps forward, you’d find yourself reading about the anatomy of the human body.
It is also worth to note that there is a whole section dedicated to books on architecture and design. With that said, you’ll definitely need all the hours you could get to browse through their full collection!
If you were to roam around the whole place, you would stumble upon a classic Italian beauty that is the Alfa Romeo GTV!
Yes, the gorgeous display relates to the automobile books they offer – they have plenty of ‘em. Car enthusiasts, this is your calling!
Staying true to their mission to get everyone to “read more for less”, the books they offer here are brand new and just like at their other branches, they are sold at 50-80% off their normal prices!
The perfect reason to go for a book shopping spree!
BookXcess, Persiaran Multimedia, Cyber 11, 63000 Cyberjaya, Selangor, Malaysia.
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