This week I decided to do something a little more fun instead of a regular chit chat. My parents are trying to plan a cruise to Hawaii for their 25th Anniversary next year, and it’s given me a serious case of wanderlust. In honor of this, I’ve decided to start Wanderlust Wednesday! As the title of this post suggests, this week’s post is about cool bookstores I want to visit. I’m borrowing the title “Bookstore Bucketlist” so thank you! There are some from all over the world, and I even managed to squeeze one in from right here in Chicago! I narrowed the list down to the top 10 that looked/sounded the most interesting to me. I might end up doing a follow up post, because this list isn’t everything I wanted to mention (my original plan was 14 stores). Grab your passports and hang on, because we’re jumping right in!
The Last Bookstore | Los Angeles, California, USA
I believe the store was started in the owner’s loft as an online retailer, but then grew into a warehouse-style store. It has awesome columns that have been used a backdrop for a fashion shoot in Esquire magazine and a really tunnel of books you can walk under. The space they have is huge and I could easily spend hours looking through the used books and records they sell. Choosing just two pictures was so hard (as I think it’s going to be for this entire post).
The Strand | New York, New York, USA
In case you haven’t heard of The Strand, it’s the sole survivor of New York’s book district. It was founded in 1927, and boasts about having over 18 miles of books. I’d love to go here because I feel like it’s a New York staple. I’ve read/watched/heard about people making trips into the city just to go to this store.
Powell’s City of Books | Portland, Oregon, USA
This store is the original Marshall Field’s of bookstores. It’s a huge bookstore that spans over an entire city block and their online presence is just as incredible. With all that space and the title of largest bookstore in the world, they’ve definitely got something for everyone.
John K. King’s Used & Rare Books | Detroit, Michigan, USA
What’s cool about this bookstore is that the building it’s in used to be a glove factory. The outside of it isn’t very pretty, but I like that they have over 1 millions books and 900 categories to choose from. Not to mention, Michigan is a lot closer than about 95% of the places I’m going to mention in this post, lol.
Bookman’s Corner | Chicago, Illinois, USA
I happened to stumble upon this little gem when I was searching for independent bookstores in Chicago. I’m tired of doing the same old thing every time I go down there, and I figured, “Why not look up so cool independent bookstores?” This place is an absolute mess, and there are books stacked from floor-to-ceiling. One of the reviews on Yelp said that if you don’t have cash to pay with, the owner will send you to the Walgreens around the corner and as that you buy him a candy bar. He’d then take the cost of the candy bar out of your total, but I thought it was kinda cute. I love when owners are personable. I’m trying to get down there ASAP once mother nature figures out what she wants to do.
Cafebreria El Pendulo | Mexico City, Mexico
This one is probably my favorite out of all the bookstores on the list. It’s just so darn beautiful and look at all the books! They host a ton of live events such as live music, poetry readings, stand-up comedy, and other events. I’ve found tons of different pictures of this shop with beautiful vines, tall shelves, and gorgeous architecture. Maybe one day I’ll get to it.
Shakespeare & Co. | Paris, France
This store has a similar vibe to that of Bookman’s Corner, in that there are stacks of books upon books. When I searched for photos, it totally reminded me of Beauty and the Beast because it’s cozy, in France, and has so many books. What’s different though, is that they house writers for days or weeks at a time in exchange for work around the shop. They also host book readings, writers’ meetings, and Sunday tea. Sounds like my kind of store!
Ler Devagar | Lisbon, Portugal
Not gonna lie, what initially sucked me for this bookstore was the flying bicycle and the white aesthetic in the pictures. The whole thing just gave me a calm, relaxed vibe, and paired the meaning of the name, “Read Slowly,” I think I nailed it, haha. In addition the awesome bicycle, Tales of a Brit Abroad also said that an old printing press has been re-purposed as a cocktail bar. If that’s not your thing, they also have a cafe where you can chill and hang out while enjoying the introspective atmosphere of the store.
Polare Bookstore | Maastricht, Holland
This bookstore is absolutely gorgeous. It’s an old Dominican church that was converted into a bookstore in 2007. It’s got little alcoves where you can sit and read, as well as a cafe set up where the choir used to sing. It looks like most of the old architecture is still in place, and when you visit the aforementioned cafe, you can sit and eat the altar (or at least a cross-shaped surface of some sort). I love the stark contrast of the black shelves with the white marble of the pillars, arches, and roof. It’s gorgeous!
Livararia Lello | Porto, Portugal
This store was originally designed as a library and was converted into a bookstore. (Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong. My sources are conflicting.) Inside, you’ll find ornate carved wood, gilded pillars, and ornamented ceilings. There’s a large red, gorgeous staircase that’s settled under a stained-glass atrium. They’ve got over 100,000 titles in both Portuguese and English in addition to CDs, antiques books, etc. The store has become so popular with tourists, they had to start charging an entrance fee last July!