We all enjoy unwinding with a good book. Did you know that each city in the world houses iconic bookstores? From its rich history, rare collections and ambience, each bookstore has its own unique charm ready to be discovered. There’s a new trend of sleeping among books in Tokyo and Koh Samui, Thailand has a resort dedicated to book lovers.
Here Unreserved uncovers our favourite bookstores from around the world.
Sinan Book Poetry Store – Shanghai, China
Designed by architecture practice Wutopia Lab, the former orthodox church built in 1932 has turned into a stunning sanctuary for poetry. The “church in church” concept incorporated 45 tons of steel into the derelict heritage building, a continuation of Wutopia Lab’s design style. The iconic store offers 1,000 poetry books in a range of different languages, meant to be the largest professional poetry salon in Shanghai.
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Wuguan Books – Taiwan
The Wuguan Books store is a warehouse-turned-art exhibition in Taiwan’s second-largest city. Created by the award-winning architecture and space designer Chu Chih-Kang, the unique bookstore offers a pitch-dark environment with dimly lit books to create the illusion that the books are floating. Its peculiar lighting design intends to heighten your senses to fixate on the books, without being judged. In total, there are about 300 books in the store that wait to be found, bought and read.
Livraria Lello- Porto, Portugal
The Livraria Lello located in Porto is one of the oldest bookstores in Portugal. The shop has had a handful of owners since its opening in 1869. The most unique feature of this bookstore is its architecture. The bookstore interior boasts murals, beautiful stained glass, natural skylight, a grand staircase and the exterior can be best described as neo-gothic or art nouveau. With tourists flocking to the store, Livraria Lello started implementing entrance fees for its visitors in July 2015.
The Last Bookstore, Los Angeles
The Last Bookstore is a bona fide book-selling powerhouse located at an iconic location in Downtown Los Angeles. It’s a cultural touchstone connecting the Age of Literacy to the Post-Information Age, and transcending its position to turn new, used and rare books into quasi art installations. More than just a bookstore, the design of their world-famous book tunnel is available for a wedding or event venue. Also, you should know that the bookstore has criminal significance as shown on Netflix’s “Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel” documentary, where it was the last known place the girl was seen before she disappeared.
Libreria Acqua Alta- Venice, Italy
Venice is sinking! The bookstore has redesigned itself to cater to the floods that occur in Venice. They keep books safe during floods by storing them in bathtubs and boats. This Instagram landmark is notably one of the most beautiful bookstores in the world, and its name translates to ‘Book Store of High Water.’ The store is whimsically cramped with books, leaving little space to walk around. And the atmosphere is even reflected in their fire escape, which is simply a door leading directly into the canal.
The Dominicanen Bookshop- Maastricht, The Netherlands
The Dominicanen bookshop is located in the city centre of Maastricht and is the perfect destination for those who love history and reading. Built-in the 13th century in gothic style, visitors can browse their extensive collection of books or enjoy a coffee within this historical building at their in-house café. The building was previously used as a bicycle storage shed, warehouse and printing house.
The Library – Koh Samui, Thailand
The library in Koh Samui was made for booklovers. If you ever dreamt of going on holiday and just spending the time reading, here’s a gem of a place. The resort, located at Koh Samui’s Chaweng beach, houses a stunning library of 1,500 books for guests to browse and read while on holiday.
Chongqing Zhongshuge Bookstore- Chongqing, China
The massive 36,000-square-foot store is located in Chongqing, a rapidly developing capital city of the Guizhou province in South Western China. Featuring mirrored ceilings turning things upside down, lampshade-shaped bookshelves and M.C Escher like stairs create a vertiginous surreal surprise for its visitors. The grand bookstore offers private nooks to relax, long tables for study and a coffee café for meetings.
El Ateneo Grand Splendid- Buenos Aires, Argentina
This unique bookstore is housed in a beautifully preserved antique theatre in the Recoleta neighbourhood of Buenos Aires. Original frescoed ceiling, ornate theatre boxes, elegant round balconies and grand red stage curtains are originally retained. During its glory days, the theatre hosted tango legends Carlos Gardel, Francisco Canaro, Roberto Firpo, and Ignacio Corsini.
Book and Bed- Tokyo, Japan
The concept of book and bed was developed with the idea of sleeping among books. Best described as a capsule hotel with communal facilities, guests beds are sandwiched between bookshelves. You can stay the night or opt to pay a daily rate to browse, relax and read in their lounge areas. Book and Bed features a good selection of Japanese and English books to feed your reading cravings.