“Books are the plane, and the train, and the road. They are the destination, and the journey. They are home.” — Anna Quindlen
Books have the power to transport, but in case you’re taking your travels literally, here are some of the best bookstores around the globe.
Also known as the “Carousel of Light,” this beautiful bookstore opened in the heart of Bucharest in 2015. Located inside the snow-white caverns of a classically restored 19th-century space, the bookstore holds over 10,000 books, as well as over 5,000 albums and DVDs. There is a bistro located on the building’s top floor and an art gallery and media space in the basement.
A former printing warehouse, Ler Devagar is a bookstore that doubles as a cultural space that hosts concerts and art exhibitions. The large space is filled with sculptures (note the large, metal, flying bicycle) and antique printing presses, and also houses two fully-stocked bars. There’s plenty of space for book lovers to relax, enjoy a cup of coffee (or a drink), and peruse all the shop has to offer. And don’t rush! “Lev devagar” literally means “read slowly.”
Buenos Aires, Argentina
El Ateneo Grand Splendid
Constructed in 1919, the Grand Splendid has been a theater, a cinema, and, most recently, a stunning bookstore. Its charm is due entirely to its ornate architecture, paintings, balconies, and general glitzy atmosphere. Visit for the space itself, but also for the selection of books — though you’ll generally have to know Spanish to understand many of the titles at the Grand Splendid!
Located in a bustling commercial center in the Binjiang District, Zhongshuge Bookstore is a notable facet of Hangzhou’s Star Avenue. The exterior is made of transparent glass, through which shoppers can see seemingly endless walls of books, while the interior is a mix of innovative architectural structures — pillars of books rise throughout the space, and mirrors reflect the walls of books to create an infinity-like view.
Travelers to London will be doubly delighted by what they find at Daunt Books. The space is beautifully designed and decorated with a fantastic teal-colored wall, so visitors should snap a few shots down the central aisle of the bookshop from its balcony view before perusing its extensive inventory of travel books. This Marylebone High Street shop is also peppered with classic William Morris prints and charming geographic maps.
Livraria Lello was founded in 1869, though it has changed hands many times in the years since. One of Portugal’s oldest libraries, it also retains its status as one of the country’s most beautiful buildings. Grand staircases, decorative wooden accents, and stained glass windows make this bookstore’s interior church-like, and the building alone draws literary devotees from far and wide — it’s regularly named one of the world’s most beautiful bookstores.
Dominicanen Bookstore / Selexyz Bookstore
Not many bookstores have as storied a history as the Boekhandel Selexyz Dominicanen bookstore, located inside a 700-year-old Catholic church in Holland. It actually wasn’t until 2007 that Dutch architects Merkx and Girod decided the crumbling church had potential to be something great. Now, the space houses three stories of books, renovated glass windows, and impressive frescoes. Needless to say, it’s a top destination for anyone visiting Maastricht.
Shakespeare & Co.
Stroll along Paris’s Left Bank and visit the famed Shakespeare and Company bookstore, opened by Sylvia Beach in 1919. When it first opened in the 1920s, the shop was a mecca for established and aspiring writers, including Ernest Hemingway and James Joyce. It was closed during the German occupation of 1941, but another bookstore in the 5th arrondissement was opened in 1950 as a tribute to Beach’s original shop. Today, you can not only visit for the store’s wide assortment of books, but for the mystique hidden in its cramped, but lovely walls.
New York, New York
Rizzoli was once located in the famed St. James Building, where its interior was widely lauded as nothing short of spectacular. But in 2015, the bookstore’s lease expired, leaving Rizzoli to move to a new space on Broadway in NoMad. The new location is filled with general interest titles, illustrated novels, and foreign language books. Stop in for the photo opp, but leave with a handful of novels.