Belletrista Blog

The Lonely Planet has published their list of the best places in the world to shop for books. It’s a bit Euro-centric, but I agree that Daunt Books in London is fabulous and well worth a visit!

I always keep an eye out for bookshops when travelling. I can’t remember of the names of the ones I visited in Mysore, India, but there’s one on the outside of the main market that was great.  And a few years ago I spent a couple of happy hours frittering away the last of my holiday money in Dymocks in Sydney, Australia.

What bookshops have you visited, outside of your own country, that you can recommend?

9 Comments for this entry

  • Joyce

    When I travel I usually have my whole family in tow, so I don’t get much of a chance to browse book stores. But I sneak in what I can . . .

    Okay, right off I’m going to break your rule of listing only bookshops outside of my own country. Hey–lots of people visit Canada, and I want to help them enjoy their time here! First off, my all-time favourite book store is Munro’s, right in the centre of everything in Victoria, British Columbia. Great selection, knowledgeable staff, fabulous atmosphere–what else could you ask for? They particularly have fabulous Canadiana, children’s and classics sections. And a great sale area.

    Almost four thousand miles east of Victoria, in Montreal, Quebec, my favourite bookstore was at McGill university. And I spent a whole afternoon browsing in the small but elegant Nicholas Hoare in Ottawa, Ontario. If you visit the city, the shop is easy to find somewhere between Parliament Hill and the National Gallery of Canada.

    Probably the best bookshop that I’ve visited outside of Canada was Blackwell’s Bookshop in Oxford. The day I was there in 2009 was some Lewis Carrol anniversary, and there was an Alice tea party going on in the children’s department, and I got a free copy of Alice in Wonderland with my purchase (the Oxford Classics edition, naturally). And talk about a classics department! I think they had in stock every Penguin and Oxford classic ever published.

    Ah, memories. Unfortunately I live in a city that’s positively dry when it comes to bookstores. But when I get away . . .

  • Char

    It wasn’t really a rule, I was just trying to stop myself waxing lyrical and boring everyone about all the London bookshops I love!

    Thanks for the Canadian bookshops. I’m hoping to get there for a trip in the next few years so maybe I’ll get to visit some of them.

  • Amber

    I was recently in Sydney too and there’s a neat second-hand bookshop in Bondi called Gertrude & Alice. One of those typical situations where I am travelling light so I definitely CAN’T buy any books…and then the selection is so great I bought three things. (and they have amazing coffee and cake. And the image on their bags – Gertrude and Alice in profile silhouette – is worth a purchase). And of course Sydney has the smashing independent, Gleebooks, too (adults’ and kids’ books) – the staff are unique and knowledgeable booklovers all.

  • Jana

    I often stop in bookshops wherever I go but seldom can remember the name or street where I have shopped. Will do a little research and see if I can come up with the names…

  • Jana

    The little shop I was in in Australia was “Ariel” on George Street in “The Rocks” section of Sydney. It was a tiny place but seemed to feature Australian authors. I picked up a couple older of Kate Grenville’s no longer in print in the states. It had to be really worth it though to pay those kind of prices! I also went into a used bookshop in No. Sydney somewhere near the train station (OK, and a book/music shop in Alice Springs.

  • Char

    Damn, I missed those shops in Bondi and The Rocks!

  • Rachel

    One that sticks in the mind is the Tattered Cover bookshop in Denver, Colorado, which I visited about ten years ago. I think there are a couple in Denver; this one’s the Lower Downtown one – light and airy restored building, huge collection of books over several floors, comfy old sofas all over the place, great coffee shop…heaven!

  • Char

    I forgot to mention earlier Skylight Books in the Los Feliz neighbourhood of Los Angeles. I visited with some friends about 4 years ago and we still talk about how wonderful it was! It’s a lovely, chilled out space with friendly and knowledgable staff – the perfect bookshop really.

  • Joyce

    I just thought of another wonderful bookstore I visited in my travels: The Elliot Bay Book Company in Pioneer Square in Seattle, Washington. I could have spent the whole day in there, but my daughters thought that 45 minutes was excessive. They’re used to me buying a lot of books, but they even said “Mommy, are you really buying all of those?!”

    On the same day we also visited the Seattle Public Library’s downtown branch, which has spectacular architecture and is well worth a visit. It also has a small gift shop and some very friendly librarians.

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