Bookstores are a specific type of wonderland; one that cures, excites, inspires, and ignites. When asked how long one could stay wandering through shelves and perusing a potential next read, the answer is always limitless.
These 10 bookstores can offer that meditative state that comes with finding your literary adventure. While books give us immense pleasure and comfort, a bookstore is where the magic begins. The brick and mortar experience will always be at the epicenter of any book lover’s dream.
With that, here are 10 transportive book stores for the cultural bookworm:
1. McNally Jackson Books in Manhattan, New York
McNally Jackson Bookstore in Nolita, Manhattan is a New York City literary gem. Not only is it a full, two-story bookstore with a large collection of coffee table magazines and a plethora of events featuring author readings, McNally Jackson also has a connecting coffeeshop with books hanging from the ceiling and pages tacked up and covering the surface area of the coffee shop walls. Buy a book, grab an espresso, and start page one.
To continue the literary culture, McNally Jackson also has a functioning book printing and binding station. Calling all self-publishers: print your book at McNally Jackson and sell it in their self-publishing library.
A 360 book-loving experience!
Visit McNally Jackson here.
2. Book Soup in Los Angeles, California
Book Soup is a classic Los Angeles staple. Located on the famous Sunset Blvd, Book Soup is no stranger to celebrities and Hollywood’s finest. With over 60,000 books, Book Soup also houses custom collector items and autographed books.
These floor-to-ceiling bookshelves will have you exploring for hours. Not to mention the book sellers are some knowledgeable book lovers. Ask them for a recommendation and you will be sure to uncover new authors to fall in love with.
Visit Book Soup here.
3. Powell’s Books in Portland, Oregon
Powell’s Books is taking over Portland, Oregon with their five locations across the city.
Let’s just talk about the fact that their flagship store pictured above has over one million books – aka BOOK HEAVEN.
In addition to the volume of books that Powell’s Books calls home, this chain of book stores sells both used and new books. If you love home and garden books, one of Powell’s Books locations is dedicated solely to that genre.
Time to go sell some old books at Powell’s!
Visit Powell’s Books here.
4. Shakespeare and Company in Paris, France
Shakespeare and Company opened in 1951 in the Left Bank of Paris and quickly became a literary institution. This English bookstore has been visited and frequented by some of the literary giants of the 20th Century. The bookstore was named after bookseller Sylvia Beach’s original Shakespeare and Company bookstore from 1919, which served as a home base for writers such as Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Eliot, and Pound.
When the bookstore first opened in 1951, it also doubled as a literary commune. In total, 30,000 writers and artists at one point stayed at the bookstore. These vagabonds were called the Tumbleweeds. The rules of crashing at the bookstore included reading one book a day, helping out at the shop, and writing a one page autobiography. These one page autobiographies have been collected and preserved into a robust archive.
5. Moe’s Books in Berkeley, California
Moe’s Books is a staple of Berkeley culture. The bookstore opened in 1959 by Moe and Barbara Moskowitz on Shattuck Avenue and was moved to historic Telegraph in 1960. Needless to say, this bookstore has sat first row to some of the Bay Area’s most classic days of free love and Vietnam protests.
Visit this Berkeley landmark and grab a book here.
6. Parnassus Books in Nashville, Tennessee
Parnassus in Nashville Tennessee has roots in authorship. Co-owned by novelist Ann Patchett and publishing veteran Karen Hayes, this “independent bookstore for independent people” was born with a book loving touch.
The bookshop was named after Mount Parnassus in Greek Mythology which served as the home of literature, learning, and music.
Visit Parnassus here.
7. Warwick’s in San Diego, California
Perhaps the most exciting historical aspect about Warwick’s is that it stands as the oldest family-owned and operated bookstore in the United States. It is located in the heart of downtown La Jolla, San Diego. A sunny stroll could land you in Warwick’s picking out your next beach read.
Other than books, Warwick’s has a complete gift shop next door where you can find notebooks, pens, stationary, jewelry, and more.
Visit Warwick’s here.
8. Unabridged Bookstore in Chicago, Illinois.
Unabridged Bookstore is known for a few things. In 2015 it was voted “Best Bookstore in Chicago” by Chicago Magazine, they have an award winning children’s section, and have been the go-to in Chicago for LGBTQ literature for 37 years.
This bookstore even has a #ReadingIsResistence weekly series where they recommend books “relevant for one to remain informed, engaged and sane in these crazy political times.”
9. Foyles in London, United Kingdom
Foyles Bookstore is a UK institution. With four London locations and three locations throughout the UK, Foyles has quite the English history dating back to 1903. You can join their Foylalty program where you can redeem points as you rack up those novel purchases.
You can visit this iconic London bookstore here.
10. The Last Bookstore in Los Angeles, California
Imagine 22,000 square feet of books, books, and more books! That is the reality of The Last Bookstore located in downtown Los Angeles. In addition to their gigantic collection of new and used books, The Last Bookstore has a magical quality to it with book archways, twisted turns, and secret nooks.
Featured Image: From Vanity Fair: LITERARY ESTATE George Whitman and daughter Sylvia in front of Shakespeare and Company, circa 1985. Inset, Sylvia, now 33, outside the 63-year-old shop, 2014., Large photograph by Deborah Hayden.