Ten Quirkiest Bookstores in the World
Laced with the love letters of great men, the musings of brilliant minds and literature of monumental importance, the walls of bookstores are home to more than just the books that populate their shelves. Bookstores are home to the stories of the people who visit them, of the memories that have been lived there and the discoveries that have been made there. With the numbers of independent bookstores throughout the globe dwindling they are now, more than ever, a destination in themselves. We have made a list of 10 bookstores that are so beautiful that it is hard to believe that such monuments to literature exist. The perfect marriage of books and scenery at its most spectacular, these book nooks are worth crossing oceans for as you are likely to find more of your story on the journey.
1. Atlantis, Santorini
Possibly the world’s most beautiful bookstore, Atlantis Books in Santorini offers a classic book shop experience with one incredible difference; the backdrop. Atlantis is a destination that should populate every bucketlist, reminiscent of something only seen in movies. From the quotes that adorn the front of the shop through to the self-started publishing house at the back of the shop, travellers and bibliophiles will become intoxicated with the undeniable magic of this place.
2. Book Town, Norway
Set near the largest glacier in Europe, Norway’s Book Town spans 4km over numerous types of buildings that have been converted into book shops. Old sheds, pigpens, houses, a hotel – Book Town is up there with the quirkiest bookstores of them all. During the winter, book sellers and visitors travel between stores by kick-sleds and toboggans. The Book Town in Norway is a must for travellers who want to immerse themselves in the peculiarities of a country and experience something completely out of the box.
3. Bart’s Books, California
There is much more to this bookstore than its inaugural title of being the largest outdoor, independent bookstore in the whole of the United States. An outdoor maze of shelves filled with books, Bart’s is a mystifying venue that stays with you long after you leave its doors. Comfortable outdoor settings are laced among the sun-kissed shelves making for one of the most beautiful book browsing experiences imaginable. Bart’s Books is humble and honest, and the eclectic décor and continued use of the honour system only adds to what has to be one of the most unique bookstores in the world.
4. Libreria Alta Acqua, Venice
If ever there was a store that encouraged reading as a sensory experience, Libreria Alta Acqua is it, in its most perfect form. With books escaping the confines of their shelves and a gondola perched in the middle of the store, there is something to fall in love with in every corner of this quaint bookstore. A beautiful chaos, there are piles of books stretching towards the ceiling throughout the store and yet nothing feels out of place. Alta Acqua is a hidden refuge, a sanctuary. Head to the back of the store and you will be met with open double doors, the water from the canal beyond lapping at the edges of the doorstep and the perfect place to perch yourself for a long afternoon thumbing through the pages of whatever treasure you have found.
5. Tell A Story, Portugal
Tell A Story is based in a van, free to travel and roam the world. It could be parked at the end of the main road, or just around the corner because the Book Van was designed to take stories anywhere and everywhere. This quirky bookstore was created specifically to take authentic Portuguese literary pieces and books, translate them, and make them available to the greater public. What began as a desire to enlighten tourists and travellers alike on the great writers of Portugal has quickly become a passionate philosophy.
6. The Montague Bookmill, Massachusetts
With large windows that frame the Sawmill River, scuffed floorboards and décor that will make you feel like you have arrived home, The Montague Bookmill offers “books you don’t need in a place you can’t find.” There isn’t much more of a magical promise out there. The converted mill is home to over 40,000 publications and one rushing waterfall. Year-round, visitors browse the warren of bookshelves before perching themselves in an armchair, or on a bench overlooking the valley for the afternoon. The Montague Bookmill is one of those rare places that genuinely feel like a home away from home, whether you are a regular there, or simply a regular nomad.
7. The Old Butcher’s Bookshop, Paris
“Blink and you’ll miss it,” the old homage goes, and it is true of The Old Butcher’s Bookshop. Nestled on the corner of one of Paris’ longest streets, what was once a butcher is now a beautifully maintained boutique bookshop. Piles of antique books brush the original meat hooks from its first life that hang from the ceiling. Undoubtedly Parisian, The Old Butcher’s Bookshop opens from lunchtime until midnight adding to its allure. Within its walls, there is almost too much to take in what with details like the original butcher’s tiles and a spiral staircase that looks to lead to nowhere. This bookshop is one for the Pinterest boards.
8. The World’s Smallest Bookstore, Toronto
Spanning only 3.5m², The World’s Smallest Bookstore sits at the end of a road that is several times longer than the shop itself. Employing the honour system, this beautifully tiny space is home to books that are only $3 a piece. The scenery on the way to the bookstore is worth crossing oceans for, and you are guaranteed to leave with more than you expected.
On your way out of the cabin, visitors can pick up handmade sheets titled, “Why I Love Books” which lists the simple pleasures that books can bring. You will want to add your own reasons just to feel a part of the charming World’s Smallest Bookstore.
9. The Last Bookstore, California
The Last Bookstore is far more than its ironic name suggests. A hub of activity, The Last Bookstore is a welcoming space for creative souls and literary folk alike to collaborate and inspire one another. The books are a collection of new and pre-loved, with many of them playing a role in the structure of the building itself. A curved archway of books, a labyrinth of $1 publications and a section of hardbacks arranged by colour, The Last Bookstore completely engulfs you in its magic. Instilling curiousity and wonder in its visitors, the majority of the shelves are a beautiful mess inspiring visitors to peruse the shelves in search of titles.
10. Gertrude & Alice, Sydney
A block up the road from Sydney’s Bondi Beach, lays Gertrude & Alice, arguably one of the most beautiful marriages of café/bookstore in existence and our own local fave. With the backdrop of the beach, the café welcomes locals and travellers alike. As soon as you walk through the doors, you are transported into the world of every book that sits upon the shelves. The interior is warmly lit; lounges and armchairs are squeezed into the corners of the shop where you can lose yourself for hours on end, the generous stock travels through to the back of the store including every nook and cranny. Whether you are searching for a particular title or happy to browse the floor to ceiling shelves, Gertrude & Alice will have you feeling nurtured and nourished within its walls, and this is where lots of hours were spent designing both our own BUCKETLIST & WANDERLUST journals!