Like most people I have a bucket list of things I would like to do before I die: visit every continent, watch the northern lights, see a moose in the wild….et cetera, et cetera! But unlike most people, I also happen to have a bookish bucket list too! From books I want to read before I die, to bookish events I would like to attend, and authors that I want to meet, my bookish bucket list is actually quite huge!
Today I’ve decided to focus on my bookstore bucket list! One of the things I always do before I travel to a new city is look for an awesome new bookstore to visit! There is just something about visiting bookstores (especially new and unexplored ones) that I find absolutely thrilling! My bookstore visits usually end up being the highlight of my trip! So…without further ado…here is the list of bookstores I would like to visit before I die!
Shakespeare and Company, Paris, France
This is probably my greatest bookish regret! I actually visited Paris when I was a teenager, but at the time I had never heard of Shakespeare and Company (nor had I started my tradition of visiting bookstores during my travels), so I didn’t end up getting to see this gorgeous store! The original store was opened in 1919, and was the gathering place for famous writers like Ezra Pound, Ernest Hemingway, and James Joyce in the 1920s. The store was closed during WWII, but was reopened by George Whitman in 1951 in a new location. Long story short, I need to go back to Paris before I die so that I can check this store off my bucket list!!
Waanders in de Broeren, Zwolle, Netherlands
Ever since I saw photos of this breathtaking bookstore online, I have been DYING to visit it in person!! A 15th Century Cathedral, architects were tasked with the job of transforming this 547 year old building into a modern bookstore while maintaining it’s historical details and design. If the real thing is anything like the photos I’ve seen, then I would say that they did an AMAZING job! Waanders in de Broeren is officially at the top of my bookstore bucket list! Check out some more photos here!
The Strand, New York City
This is actually a bookstore that I’ve been able to cross off my bucket list! I visited The Strand during a trip to New York last May, but unfortunately forgot to check their store hours before I went. As a result I arrived at the store about 45 minutes before they were closing, which, for a booknerd like me, was barely enough time to explore even a corner of the store, let alone the entire thing! As a result, I would LOVE to visit the The Strand again someday! If it doesn’t happen, at least I can say I’ve been there once, even if it was for a short amount of time!
Bart’s Books, Ojai, California
This outdoor bookstore is definitely one of a kind! Opened in 1964, Bart’s Books grew so big that the owner constructed a series of bookshelves on the sidewalk so that people passing by could peruse the shelves. In the place of a cash register, the store simply placed coffee cans on top of the shelves for customers shopping after hours to leave their change. I love the fact that this store works largely on the honour system, and I find the fact that it’s outdoors absolutely irresistible!
El Ateneo, Buenos Aries, Argentina
The first time I saw a picture of this bookstore online, I mistakenly thought that it was the Runnymede Chapters in Toronto! While the Runnymede sadly closed this past year (luckily I got to visit it before it was gone), the El Ateneo is alive and flourishing in Buenos Aries! Like the Runnymede Chapters, this bookstore has found a home in an old theatre that was originally constructed in 1919. The lighting in this space is stunning, and you can even sit on the stage and have a cup of coffee! How cool is that!
As much as I would LOVE to visit any of these bookstores, one of my favourite things is still stumbling upon a bookstore by pure chance. No matter where a bookstore is, or what it looks like, they always fill me with a sense of wonder and magic! For me, visiting a bookstore is like getting high on life. I always feel so amazing after!
What bookstores have you fallen in love with? Is there a bookstore that you are dying to visit?