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Best bookstores around the world

Discovering the joys of bookstores in new cities.

Books and travel are inextricably linked. Passing time in transit, inspiring adventures in cities and taking you someplace else when you’re already somewhere else… While what you read is forever connected to the experience of discovering somewhere new, where you buy a book while travelling can be just as powerful.

Heading to an independent bookstore is a perfect way to spend time in a new city. Well-thumbed, pre-loved books with foreign inscriptions, best selling new releases that reflect the pulse of the city and passionate staff to help you pick out something memorable. Take some time out on your travels to hang out in a bookshop – and don’t forget to mark the purchase with your own inscription for someone else to find one day.

best world bookstores, La Belle Hortense, Paris

La Belle Hortense, Paris

The shelves are lined with wine bottles and books in this lively neighbourhood establishment in the heart of Le Marais. Coupling the very best of two concepts, a bookstore and a wine bar, La Belle Hortense gives you a window into the dreamy Parisian experience of the likes of Amelie and Midnight in Paris. Grab a seat at the bar, order a drink and pluck a book off the shelf for an hour of bliss. The neighbourhood is full of excellent local restaurants, including two nearby by the same owners as La Belle Hortense – L’Etoile Manquante and Le Petit Fer à Cheval. Your evening is set.

best world bookstores, Powell’s Books, Portland, Oregon

Powell’s Books, Portland, Oregon

Ah Portland, city of Stumptown coffee, Voodoo Doughnuts and the largest independent bookstore in the world. Powell’s Books first opened its doors in 1971 and has since expanded to six locations around the city. Its flagship store, in the city’s Pearl district, is an ode to all things literary, occupying a whole city block between NW 10th and 11th Avenues and between W. Burnside and NW Couch Streets. Grab a coffee and settle in for some serious browsing – the building covers over one and a half acres of retail floor space.

best world bookstores, Readings, Carlton, Victoria

Readings, Carlton, Victoria

In a time when bookstores are under serious pressure, Readings is doing something right. With six stores across Melbourne, they’ve cracked the formula of what people want in a local bookshop and a visit to their Carlton store will show you why. The heart and soul of its chain of stores, the Carlton location opened in 1969 and has become a local icon amidst the frenzy of Lygon Street. With staff passionate about all things film, music and books, it’s easy to spend hours indulging in their offerings. Pick up a title and flop down at the nearby Carlton Gardens for a good long read.

(Image: Flickr: Snipergirl)

best world bookstores, Greenlight Bookstore, Brooklyn NY

Greenlight Bookstore, Brooklyn NY

The brains behind this bookstore are two women, Rebecca Fitting and Jessica Stockton Bagnulo, with a shared passion for the world of publishing and bookselling. With over 26 years of industry experience, Greenlight Bookstore came about in the Brooklyn neighbourhood of Fort Greene and offers a wandering traveller a neatly curated offering that goes well beyond the best sellers. Comfortable and with a community spirit, it’s a place you feel good supporting.

(Image: Flickr: Rik Panganiban)

best world bookstores, Shibuya Publishing Booksellers, Shibuya, Tokyo

Shibuya Publishing Booksellers, Shibuya, Tokyo

While many Japanese titles fill the shelves of this hip Tokyo bookstore just a stone’s throw from Shibuya station, there is plenty to be gleaned from dropping in and checking out their varied selection. Curated according to theme, the mix includes some English books and the staff is only too happy to help you discover something that takes your fancy. Perusing the shelves, you quickly realise how universal the appreciation of good books can be, even if you may not be able to understand all that’s written.

(Image: Flickr: Naoya Fujii )

(Main image: Flickr: Alexandre Duret Lutz)

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