Bookshops We Want to Escape to
The ability that books have to transport us to another country, another time, or another world entirely, is something we all, as readers, can thoroughly appreciate. But what if we took that a step further, and transported ourselves in order to find books? Here at The Publishing Post, we have already highlighted our favourite UK bookstores. In this issue, we are broadening our literary horizons by taking a look at our favourite bookshops from around the World.
Powell’s City of Books, USA
Located in Portland, Oregon, Powell’s City of Books is the largest new and used bookstore in the World and even provides maps to help shoppers navigate the huge space. This incredible place emerged in a former car dealership in 1971 and soon occupied an entire city block. Spanning nine colour-coded rooms, three floors and offering more than one million books, it’s no surprise that the store is a popular Portland attraction. Powell’s City of Books also purchases thousands of books over the counter every day, all while serving a great cup of coffee in the café. Definitely not one to miss if you’re in town.
Ateneo Grand Splendid, Argentina
Opened as a theatre in 1919, stunningly preserved architecture has granted Ateneo Grand Splendid the title of the most beautiful bookshop in the World. Few changes have been made to the interiors of the building. This means visitors can sip their cortado from the stage that tango dancers soared on, or head to the private boxes above to browse a book or admire the view. Ateneo Grand Splendid sells three-quarters of a million books a year, though staff also welcome visitors who are coming simply to admire the immense grandeur and Latin history that the store exudes.
Shakespeare & Company, France
Do not fear – the store has more to offer than bookshelves of Shakespeare’s plays. Since opening in 1951, this English-language bookshop has arguably become one of the most famous independent bookstores in the World. Described by the former owner, George Whitman, as a “socialist utopia masquerading as a bookstore,” Shakespeare and Company has provided around 30,000 young writers and artists with a bed for the night. They have proudly been hosting literary events since 2003, with attendees including Zadie Smith, Carol Ann Duffy, Philip Pullman, and Hanif Kureishi. They even produce a podcast, and have recently set up their own publishing arm! (Is there anything they can’t do?) A literary institution rich with history, Shakespeare and Company should be a definite addition to your Paris itinerary.
Zhongshuge Bookstore, China
China is a country not often renowned for its love of books, with frequent and strict censorship of reading material. However, there are certainly some glorious bookshops to be found in almost every province. One such shop is Zhongshuge bookstore in Hangzhou. This shop is a truly immersive experience that takes book shopping to a whole new level. Featuring wrap-around shelving and mirrored ceilings, the number of books in this shop feels infinite (which is definitely something we can get behind!). There are seating areas integrated with the design, which means that if/when a book takes your fancy you don’t have to travel far to get comfy and dive right in.
The Jazzhole, Nigeria
The Jazzhole offers a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of Lagos’s city life. Recommended by the award-winning author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, this spot offers inspiration in many forms. Doubling as a bookshop and record store, The Jazzhole is a place to come to explore Nigeria’s rich literary and artistic history. The books on offer span a wide range of genres, from comics and cookbooks to best-selling fiction and coffee table tomes. With new and second-hand books on sale, there is something for everyone. They additionally host jazz evenings (living up to their name), performed by both local and international acts. Take advantage of the cute little café at the back of the store and enjoy coffee and cake as you bury your head in your recent purchases!
Hard To Find, New Zealand
With the slogan “hard to find but worth the effort,” Hard To Find second-hand bookshops are a treasure trove of the unknown. They stock plenty of stunning first-editions, elusive rare books, and antiquarian collector’s items – they are one of the largest buyers of antique books in New Zealand! If antiques aren’t your thing, you can spend hours browsing their collection of second-hand contemporary fiction. Hard To Find currently has two locations, one in Auckland and a second in Dunedin, so regardless of whether you’re on the north or south island, you could treat yourself to a visit. However, if you’re not able to make it there in person, they also have an extensive range of titles on their website; somewhere in the vicinity of 500,000… so hopefully, there will be something to take your fancy.
Whilst there aren’t many opportunities to buy books in Antarctica, they do sport an extensive library. McMurdo’s Library holds over 8,000 books that support the studies of scientific researchers stationed in the area. The library also stocks crowd favourites such as the works of Stephen King to keep you entertained, and literary classics such as Shakespeare. It’s the perfect place to cosy up with a book (away from the freezing temperatures!).