World Book Day is just around the corner on April 23. To celebrate this, we put together a list of 10 of the coolest bookshops around the world. Some of them are in unusual places, some of them have a unique atmosphere, others are cool just because. Since most of them aren’t that well-known, you probably haven’t visited any of them… or have you?
1. El Ateneo Grand Splendid – Buenos Aires, Argentina
In what other city of the world would you find a bookshop in a converted Tango concert hall? This old place used to host famous tango artists such as Carlos Gardel. Walk under its grand cupola or into its wonderful original balconies. There’s a tiny café where you can listen to the piano being played occasionally.
2. La Casquería — Madrid, Spain
Deep in the Lavapiés neighbourhood, you’ll find a very special bookshop in the San Fernando Market. La Casquería values recycling and encourages the exchange of used books. As the bookshop doesn’t believe culture has a price tag, the books are sold purely based on how much they weigh: 10€/kg.
3. Word on the Water — London, England
This quirky bookshop-barge floats around London, moving its precious cargo and a number of cats from place to place along London’s canals. Usually you’ll find it in North London, around Little Venice, Paddington or Camden, but last we heard of it, it was actually moored in Hackney!
4. Polare Maastricht — Maastricht, Netherlands
This bookshop is in a really special place: an old 18th century Dominican church. The church was abandoned for over 200 years — ever since Napoleon’s invasion! In 2007 it was divided into 3 floors lined with bookcases. Gothic and oh so cool.
5. Livraria Ler Devagar — Lisbon, Portugal
We’ve raved about Ler Devagar before, and we’ll do it again. In old factory grounds, Ler Devagar (meaning, “read slowly”) is Lisbon’s coolest bookshop. The walls are stacked with books all the way up to the roof and strange contraptions like a man on a flying bicycle are hung from strings as decoration. There’s a good café on the ground floor and the city’s best cake shop on the upper floor!
6. Barter Books — Alnwick, England
This awesome bookshop used to be a train station in the 19th century. You can buy and exchange used books here and there’s a room for children to play games in. If you haven’t heard of Alnwick before, it’s a small town in Northumberland, the far far north of England.
7. Atlantis Books — Santorini, Greece
It’s a tiny place, stacked with books, in a beautiful Greek island. What more could you ask for? Poetry readings, small plays, cultural events? Maybe a view out to sea? Yeah, these guys have all of that — and a cat.
8. Librería El Péndulo — Mexico City, Mexico
El Péndulo is a unique bookshop/café which the owners call a Cafebreria (Bookafé?) where you can enjoy the best coffee with the best books! The sofas are among the most comfortable in the world. Wherever you’re from, if you like books, you’ll find yourself right at home.
9. Cook & Book — Brussels, Belgium
Cook & Book is definitely one of those places in the world that justify existence. It’s huge, it’s awesome and it’s really, really random. You’ll find eight different sections, each of them with an eating section. From flying books, a glass caravan or an almost life-size car, I think it’s fair to say that the decor is way out of the box.
10. Another Country — Berlin, Germany
Another Country is an English language bookshop in Berlin that sells used books. It doesn’t work as every other bookshop, though: you buy the book, but if you return it after finishing, you get your money back! And considering most books are priced at under €1.50, all the great books that you want will fit a students’ budget!
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What other cool bookshops have you found around the world? Let us know in the comments. And remember: if you need student accommodation, you’ll find the student home you’re looking for on Uniplaces.