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11 Cool Libraries and Bookstores Around the World

Can’t resist that brand new book with the shiny red cover? Well, Amazon may deliver it without any extra shipping cost. But when you live your life waiting on packages in the mail, you miss out on the beautiful buildings to be found on every corner. Here are 11 cool libraries and bookstores around the world.

1. Ler Devagar (Lisbon, Portugal)

Ler Devagar, which means “read slowly”, is a beautiful, hip bookstore filled with stacks of books. This bookstore, brimming with books piled all the way to the ceiling and a bicycle that flies through the shop, is surely one that will excite your imagination.


2. Shakespeare & Company (Paris, France)

This famous bookstore is known not only for its impressive architecture of marble ceilings and statuesque pillars, but rather for its narrow hallways jam-packed with books upon books. If you’re interested in the sheer number of books a store can hold, this is the perfect place for you.


3. The Honesty Bookshop (Hay-on-Wye, Wales)

The legendary town of Hay-on-Wye, known as the world’s secondhand book capital, is on the top of my “Places to Visit” list. In particular, the Honesty Bookshop is a quaint, outdoor shop that allows customers to grab a book and pay using the honor system, via a collection box, at any time of day.


4. Livraria de Vila (Sao Paulo, Brazil)

There doesn’t seem to be many parts of this bookstore that aren’t made entirely of books. Even the front doors are made of giant bookshelves that pivot as you walk through.


5. Selexyz Bookstore (Maastricht, Holland)

This once-Dominican church is now an elegant bookstore adorned with refined arch ceilings and beautiful pillars. Its gothic architecture cannot be appreciated without an actual visit. I hope you’re booking your plane tickets to Holland right now!


6. The Library Hotel (New York City, NY)

Who wouldn’t want to stay overnight in a giant library with over 6,000 books? Manhattan’s Library Hotel is organized based on the Dewey Decimal System, where the 10 floors each honor one of the DDC categories, and each room is adorned with books and arts of its retrospective topic. Sign me up!


7. Bart’s Books (Ojai, California)

Besides being the largest outdoor bookstore in the world, Bart’s Books is known to host nearly one million books, ranging from thirty-five cent specials to out-of-print editions worth thousands of dollars. This beautiful store is one that every book-lover should visit.


8. Poplar Kid’s Republic (Beijing, China)

I don’t know about you, but I have never been to any house that has such creative and comfortable reading nooks. This is definitely one store that is worth visiting in person, for kids and adults alike.


9. Librería El Ateneo Grand Splendid (Buenos Aires, Argentina)

This 1920s movie palace-turned-bookstore is a one-of-a-kind tourist attraction. It uses old theatre boxes as reading rooms, and even has a music section as well as a café. El Ateneo’s crimson stage curtains and original balconies are a sight that every tourist should see.


10. The American Book Center (Amsterdam, the Netherlands)

The American Book Center is one of the most beautifully designed shops I have ever seen. Not only does it have a tree or two hidden in the midst of the store, but it also contains ingenious nooks and crannies that leave its visitors with wonderful, secluded places to read.


11. Plural Bookshop (Bratislava, Slovakia)

With stairs that span the width of the store, this shop’s unique architecture represents the upward climb of books throughout the centuries. Even with the recent success of e-books and delivered paperbacks, it’s impossible not to appreciate the smell and feel of books in such a beautiful environment.


In the renowned movie “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” Ferris tells the audience: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” In this busy world we inhabit, it seems much easier to have books delivered to you. Why waste time driving to a bookstore when you can have any book you want sent to your house? However, visiting bookstores is not a waste of your time. Don’t let life move by you so quickly. Stop. Look around. Smell the roses. Feel the smooth leather of hardcover books and read every precious word. We challenge you to visit as many cool libraries and bookstores worldwide as you can, and to buy a book at every one!


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