To look at bookstores, merely as structures of bookkeeping and book buying is a rookie mistake. These spaces have stories swirling within them not just because of their association with books but because of their own selves as well. How they came up to be, and why they come up to be is a fascinating exercise in understanding how the cultural and social atmosphere indulges in the ideal of creating and preserving history. Moreover, the smell of pages, the cracks in the spine of a hardcover, the multiple genres in the literary world, and many more, are reasons enough to explore these beautiful sanctuaries of community life.
Here are 5 bookstores that you must absolutely visit.
Boekhandel Dominicanen, Maastricht, Netherlands
“There is always something happening here.”
The Boekhandel Dominicanen is a 1,100-square-meter former Dominican church, converted into a bookstore in 2006. Built in the 13th century, this bookstore has been home to the Maastricht Symphony Orchestra, Carnivals and now, a bookstore. The Gothic structure is said to host about 140 events per year, besides serving the best coffee in town. Coffee, books and magic. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of this beautiful world?
Shakespeare And Company, Paris, France
Opened in 1951 and immortalized in Hemingway’s memoir, “A Moveable Feast.”, this bookstore is a must see destination for many tourists in Paris. What makes this space unique is its dedication to the art of writing and love for the written word. Housing a variety of books in different genres, Shakespeare and Company also provides a night worth’s stay to writers and travellers. The idea here was to welcome and host writers and share books through their reading room.
Librairie Avant-Garde, Nanjing, China
“It’s a place for people to have dreams in the city.”
Regarded as one of China’s most beautiful bookstores, the Librairie Avant-Garde is located inside a massive underground parking lot once used as a bomb shelter. The bookstores houses large crosses, a copy of Rodin’s “The Thinker” and a checkout counter built out of thousands of old books. The store also functions as a sort of public library, with more than 300 reading chairs.
Strand Bookstore, New York, USA
Back in the 1920s, six blocks of Manhattan’s Fourth Avenue were known as the “Book Row.” Of the 48 bookstores that gave the district its name, Strand Bookstore is the only survivor. Said to be one of the largest used books bookstores in the world, Strand is home to some of the rarest books too. They say that it is very easy get lost into books and within the bookstore owing to its size. What a wonderful way to be lost,eh?
Foyles Flagship, London, United Kingdom
This century old bookseller is the real deal. The space is said to be equivalent to the size of thirteen tennis courts combined! Moreover, Foyles’ space has its own interesting history as the former Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design building, where Alexander McQueen and Stella McCartney once studied. The stage where the Sex Pistols played their first gig in 1975 now houses the Foyles’ children’s department. (How cool does that sound?)