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30 Most Beautiful Bookshops Around The World

30 Most Beautiful Bookshops Around The World

With the ease of acquiring e-books in one click, the brick and mortar bookstores seem to be sadly reducing in popularity. However, book lovers argue that a traditional temple of books can be an eclectic atmosphere that propels discovery, fantasy, entertainment, solitude and social networking. These spectacular bookstores encourage readers to put aside technology and enjoy the pleasures of the printed word on page.

1. Libreria El Pendulo, Mexico City, Mexico

Besides browsing through the shelves, you can sip a mojito, munch on food, enjoy live music or stand-up comedy at this cross between a cafe and a bookshop. It even offers valet parking, elevating the cafe/bookstore concept exceptionally well. Be sure to give a nudge to the sand-filled pendulum that sways back and forth making patterns as customers give a gentle push.

Cafebrería el Péndulo

    2. Polare, Maastricht, Holland

    Transformed from a 700 year old Catholic church to an ornate bookstore, the Polare (formerly Selexyz) is indeed a class apart. It houses a massive three storey bookshelf with staircases, elevators and walkways. Strangely enough, before the Amsterdam based architecture firm, Merkx+ Girod, designed the current structure, it used to be a bicycle shed.

    Polare

      3. Librería El Ateneo Grand Splendid, Buenos Aires, Argentina

      El Ateneo Grand Splendid is a gorgeous renovated movie theater, that is now home to a variety of books. It retains the 1920s glamor using theater boxes for reading rooms, painted ceilings and crimson stage curtains. It is believed that over a million people visit this majestic bookstore every year.

      ElAteneoGrandSplendid

        4. Kid’s Republic, Beijing, China

        Opened in 2005, Kid’s Republic is the first bookstore in China to specialize in children’s books. The bold and bright rainbow colored design makes it a fun and comfortable place for kids, encouraging them to enter their realm of imagination. Although it is a haven for kids, I can’t help imagining myself tucked away in one of their reading cubbies, with a book in hand of course.

        KidsRepublic

          5. Shakespeare and Company, Paris, France

          For those who love books stacked over books in narrow hallways, don’t look further than Paris’s left bank. Hiding behind the shadows of Notre Dame, Shakespeare and Company is an English language literature bookstore opened in 1951 by George Whitman. It was featured in Woody Allen’s film, Midnight in Paris.

          ShakespeareCompany

            6. Bart’s bookstore, Ojai, California

            Overwhelmed with his collection of books, Richard Bartinsdale built a collection of bookcases in 1964 by a California sidewalk so that passers-by could browse through them. Today Bart’s is the largest outdoor bookstore in the world. Not only that, it boasts of an extensive collection of rare books.

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            Barts

              7. Ler Devagar, Lisbon, Portugal

              This state of the art modern bookstore occupies multiple stories of a former factory in Lisbon, a building built in 1864 to manufacture thread and fabric. Readers can delve in Portuguese and international paperbacks on various subjects while a bicycle with wings overlooks them.

              LevDevagar

                8. Librería Acqua Alta, Venice, Italy

                Only in Venice, can you find thousands of books inside a rowing boat, gondola and even bathtubs! Its owner, Luis Frizzio, a 70 year old Venetian, has many cats who love to roam through the books. The shop overlooks one of Venice’s famous canals.

                LiberiaAcquaAlta

                  9. Livraria Lello e Irmao, Porto, Portugal

                  For Harry Potter fans, this bookstore may seem familiar, as it has been featured several times in the movie series. The neo-gothic façade, heavily decorated walls, stained glass ceilings along with ornamented pillars are sure to impress you.

                  LivariaLelloIrmao

                    10. The American Book Center, Amsterdam, Netherlands

                    The American Book Center or simply ABC, plays an important role in the promotion of English literature in the multicultural city of Amsterdam. For a book lover, ABC is more of a department store with an organized selection of books and magazines, in the backdrop of a pleasant interior. Their Treehouse section witnesses many events, conferences, workshops, courses and performances by upcoming artists.

                    TheAmericanCookCenter

                      11. Plural Bookshop, Bratislava, Slovakia

                      Plural Bookshop may be smaller in size than more established stores, but its smart and innovative design makes it well worth the visit. It has a climbing wooden floor sandwiched between bookshelves, that serves as seats for browsers as well as an auditorium for spectators during talks and events. There is also a coffee shop at the floor’s peak.

                      PluralBookshop

                        12. Librairie des Colonnes, Tanger, Morocco

                        Oozing French charm, this historic bookshop is a famous landmark boasting of wonderful architecture. It is long associated with authors that made Tanger their home permanently or for a few months. The owners, Pierre Bergé and Simon-Pierre Hamelin, often organize events such as book signings, film screenings and musical evenings.

                        13. Books Actually, Singapore

                        Specializing in fiction and literature, this independent bookstore deserves a visit. Although it is relatively new (opened in 2005), it has already make a mark for itself as one of Singapore’s most beautiful places. In an inviting and warm setting, you can lust over a treasure of books as well as retro items such as typewriters.

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                        BooksActually

                          14. Librairie Avant-Garde, Nanjing, China

                          In 2013, CNN named Libraririe Avant-Garde as China’s most beautiful bookstore. It is located at a mammoth parking lot spread over 4,000 square feet, which was once used as a bomb shelter. Instead of a shelf for best-selling books, visitors are welcomed by a replica of Rodin’s “The Thinker” sculpture.

                          LibrairieAvantGarde

                            15. Livraria da Vila, São Paulo, Brazil

                            What really makes the design of Livraria da Vila unique is how it utilizes books not just as a product to be sold, but as a decorative element. Isay Weinfeld has beautifully designed every corner of this store, including atriums on the ground floor so that visitors can peek at other floors.

                            LivrariaDaVila

                              16. Bookabar Bookshop, Rome, Italy

                              The Bookàbar is located in Palazzo delle Esposizioni, the largest inter-disciplinary exhibition area in central Rome. It has three large, airy rooms, two of which are devoted to books, catalogues, DVDs and CDs, while the third contains a stylish museum store. Next to the bookstore is a café, with a menu inspired by current collections on view at the museum.

                              Bookabar

                                17. John K. King Used And Rare Books, Detroit, Michigan

                                This houses more than a million books in an abandoned glove factory in Detroit’s industrial wasteland. Need I say more? You can spend hours here, finding one gem after another. The cardboard signs and musty paperback aromas add to the industrial feel of the store.

                                JohnKing

                                  18. Barter Books, Alnwick, UK

                                  Back in 1991, and in the face of a rather large overdraft, Mary Manley decided to open a secondhand bookshop in an old train station – one that would be based on the swap system and called Barter Books. It hit the headlines in 2001, when the owner discovered an old World War II poster with the slogan, “Keep Calm and Carry On”, and the simple design has turned it into an international phenomenon.

                                  BarterBooks

                                    19. Cook & Book, Brussels, Belgium

                                    Conveniently located on the main line of the metro in Brussels is a whimsical bookstore cum restaurant. Don’t be confused by the name, Cook and Book, does not specialize in books on cooking. Instead, it is a unique combination of good food with good books, following the motto read while you eat.

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                                    CookandBook

                                      20. Atlantis Books, Santorini, Greece

                                      A neglected old village house was converted to a magical place,  when two young friends decided to open a bookshop on the island over a bottle of wine. It was the only thing the Mediterranean island was missing – a haven for readers and writers. Atlantis hosts festivals and sunset readings on their terrace with sea views. They even started their own publishing house in the back room of the shop.

                                      AtlantisBooks

                                        21. Brazenhead Books, New York, USA

                                        After the rent at his Brooklyn retail space shot through the roof, Michael Seidenberg moved his secondhand bookshop to his Upper East Side apartment, where it exists under the radar, unknown even to many who live in his building. To visit, all you have to do is call him and make an appointment. Good luck finding him in the phone book, if you have one.

                                        22. Le Bal Des Ardents, Lyon, France

                                        French for “the burning ball”, this is a quant little bookstore with an eye-catching arch entrance. Born in 2003, it is committed to defending unknown authors, publishing houses or independent themes, that are little prized by traditional stores.

                                        LeBalDesArdents

                                          23. Librairie Ptyx, Brussels, Belgium

                                          La Libraire Ptyx is famed for its dictionary-esque façade featuring images and brief bios of some of authors whose books are held within. It offers a wide variety of literature, with a focus on facilitating conversation and exchanging of views.

                                          LibrairiePtyx

                                            24. Book Now, Bendigo, Australia

                                            Old books are packed tightly onto shelves, laid out on tables and categorised into little alcoves. Creaking, timber floorboards and stairs lead up to a book-filled mezzanine. It would be difficult to come into Book Now and not find something of interest among the 60,000 or so secondhand titles that they carry.

                                            25. Livraria Cultura, Sao Paulo, Brazil

                                            Livraria Cultura was founded in 1948 by Eva Herz, who had left Berlin in 1938 to escape from the Nazis. She started by using a spare room at her house as a rental library, and eventually paved her way to Brazil’s largest bookstore. There are massive dragon statues to play on, areas to lounge, and four stories of pure book-filled aisles to wander through.

                                            LivrariaCultura

                                              26. Brattle Bookshop, Boston, USA

                                              Founded in 1825, this is one of the largest antiquarian book shops in the country. The store got its name from Brattle Street in Boston, where it originally was located. Today is stands on West Street in downtown Boston. The vacant parking lot next to it serves as an outdoor wing of books, weather permitting of course.

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                                              BrattleBookShop

                                                27. Powell’s Books, Portland, USA

                                                Powell’s is enormous and you will need a map to find your way around (the store provides one). It was previously a car dealership that has now become a Portland landmark selling old and new books.

                                                PowellsBooks

                                                  28. Daunt Books Marylebone, London, UK 

                                                  Books arranged in elegant style line the walls of this Edwardian building, providing the perfect setting for one of London’s most treasured, independent bookshops. A glorious mezzanine and a quiet ambience give the building an air of academia, like an old university library.

                                                  DauntBooks

                                                    29. Munro’s Books, Victoria, Canada

                                                    Munro’s Books has been described by journalists as the most magnificent bookstore in Canada, and possibly in North America. Since 1984, the store has been located in the centre of Victoria’s Old Town, formerly a Royal Bank of Canada building.

                                                    MunroBooks

                                                      30. Liberia Altair, Barcelona, Spain

                                                      The largest travel specialist in the world is possibly one of the most beautiful bookstores too. For decades they have been inspiring travelers to start their next adventure. Take a guidebook, sit on the couch below their ornate iron columns and let your imagination take flight.

                                                      LiberiaAltair

                                                        Pictures in this post are sourced from Creative Commons.

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                                                        Last Updated on March 13, 2019

                                                        How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

                                                        How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

                                                        Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

                                                        You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

                                                        Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

                                                        1. Work on the small tasks.

                                                        When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

                                                        Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

                                                        2. Take a break from your work desk.

                                                        Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

                                                        Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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                                                        3. Upgrade yourself

                                                        Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

                                                        The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

                                                        4. Talk to a friend.

                                                        Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

                                                        Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

                                                        5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

                                                        If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

                                                        Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

                                                        Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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                                                        6. Paint a vision to work towards.

                                                        If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

                                                        Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

                                                        Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

                                                        7. Read a book (or blog).

                                                        The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

                                                        Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

                                                        Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

                                                        8. Have a quick nap.

                                                        If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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                                                        9. Remember why you are doing this.

                                                        Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

                                                        What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

                                                        10. Find some competition.

                                                        Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

                                                        Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

                                                        11. Go exercise.

                                                        Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

                                                        Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

                                                        As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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                                                        Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

                                                        12. Take a good break.

                                                        Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

                                                        Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

                                                        Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

                                                        Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

                                                        More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

                                                        Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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