For bookworms, no amount of books is sufficient amount of books. Put them in front of a pile of books, and they will gobble them up in a few days; let them loose in Alladin’s cave strewn with literary jewels and they will devour that with great relish; line the Grand Canyon with reading matter and a bookworm will dive into them with a hoot of joy and surface, their thirst for more as yet unquenched.
For bookworms, the need to find new and interesting book stores is essential, crucial, vital…you get the picture. People who don’t read will never understand this passion and those who do are all too consumed by it to explain coherently. As a gift to all booklovers, here are the 3 greatest bookshops on this planet. Hopefully, your quest for more will take you to these amazing places in this lifetime.
Librería El Ateneo Grand Splendid, Buenos Aires, Argentina
The El Ateneo bookstore wasn’t always a bookstore. In another life it was the Teatro Grand Splendid – home to opera singers and tango performers. In 1929, it was converted into a cinema and the first ever movie with sound was screened here. It wasn’t turned into a bookstore until 2000, but I have to say they have done a fabulous job of it. The library is a magnificent place, probably one of the grandest in this world.
The erstwhile auditorium’s luxurious furnishings have been retained and you get to read against a backdrop of stage lighting and plush curtains. First comers almost always forget to pick up a book and read here since they are pretty busy gawping at the ornate interiors; but once the thought comes back to you, you can make your way to one of the former theater boxes that have now become intimate reading rooms. Oh, and the library remains open round the clock. You can literally spend your days and nights here.
Livraria Lello, Porto, Portugal
Livraria Lello brings back memories of the study rooms in rich Victorian households where the master of the house, dressed in a silk dressing gown would sink into an armchair with a glass of port, a cigar, and of course a book. This century old art nouveau gem makes you want to do just that, and interestingly, cigars are sold in the library’s coffee shop; and port too. Perfect!
Neo-Gothic shells wrap around the entire library and a massive central staircase adds further drama to the room. Completing the décor are gold accents, wood paneling, stained glass, and red carpets. The aforementioned café is on the 4th floor, under a beautiful stained-glass skylight and it is a cozy place with only four tables. If you are like me and reading makes you hungry, there are some lovely baked goods accompanied by a pot of fresh coffee.
Shakespeare & Company, Paris, France
Of course when you have a library that is named after one of the most prominent contributors to English literature, you simply have to check it out. In addition, when you learn that this library was the hub of American beat poets in Europe who gathered here to share coffee, cigarettes, and intellectual insight into all matters of the world, it becomes all the more interesting.
Even today, as you step through the door of this iconic bookshop, you can feel it alive and pulsating with creative spirit. The writer’s room has a piano for the patrons and one of the back rooms hosts regular readings by poets. There’s always something happening at Shakespeare & Co.
Livraria Lello, Porto, Portugal Livraria Lello, Porto, Portugal Livraria Lello, Porto, Portugal
Livraria Lello, Porto, Portugal Librería El Ateneo Grand Splendid, Buenos Aires
Librería El Ateneo Grand Splendid, Buenos Aires Shakespeare & Company, Paris Shakespeare & Company, Paris
Shakespeare & Company, Paris