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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 January 21, 2020

                                                        The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

                                                        The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

                                                        Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

                                                        your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

                                                          Why You Need a Vision

                                                          Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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                                                          How to Create Your Life Vision

                                                          Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

                                                          What Do You Want?

                                                          The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

                                                          It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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                                                          Some tips to guide you:

                                                          • Remember to ask why you want certain things
                                                          • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
                                                          • Give yourself permission to dream.
                                                          • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
                                                          • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

                                                          Some questions to start your exploration:

                                                          • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
                                                          • What would you like to have more of in your life?
                                                          • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
                                                          • What are your secret passions and dreams?
                                                          • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
                                                          • What do you want your relationships to be like?
                                                          • What qualities would you like to develop?
                                                          • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
                                                          • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
                                                          • What would you most like to accomplish?
                                                          • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

                                                          It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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                                                          What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

                                                          Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

                                                          A few prompts to get you started:

                                                          • What will you have accomplished already?
                                                          • How will you feel about yourself?
                                                          • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
                                                          • What does your ideal day look like?
                                                          • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
                                                          • What would you be doing?
                                                          • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
                                                          • How are you dressed?
                                                          • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
                                                          • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
                                                          • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

                                                          It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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                                                          Plan Backwards

                                                          It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

                                                          • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
                                                          • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
                                                          • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
                                                          • What important actions would you have had to take?
                                                          • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
                                                          • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
                                                          • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
                                                          • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
                                                          • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

                                                          Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

                                                          It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

                                                          Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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