Stacked with rows and rows of books, stories around every corner, and a lingering aroma of pages that tickle the nose, visiting bookstores is an enchanting encounter that never disappoints. Dream-like spaces packed with fantastical reads for everyone, here are five unique bookstores around the world that not only sell a distinct collection of books but are so characteristic in their appeal that they have become must-visit destinations for bibliophiles.
The peculiarly named The Monkey's Paw in Toronto might seem like a typical bookstore from afar, but inside, its obscurity shines through a compilation of rare and often absurd titles from the past. You'll find Penguin orange, green and blue covers here, a historical dictionary of slang, and something utterly fascinating like a book on bread sculptures by Ann Wiseman. So magical is the place that on their website they boldly boast, "Here you'll find the book you didn't know you were looking for." What's even more wondrous about The Monkey's Paw is their Biblio-Mat, the world's first book dispenser of old books. Random and filled with unconventional reads, the machine bestows upon the curious reader a different book each time, perfect for those who believe in the notion that it is not us who pick a book, but a story that somehow finds us.
Address: 1067 Bloor St W, Toronto, ON M6H1M5, Canada
Photo Credit - www.monkeyspaw.com/53304/
Operational since 1991, Barter Books in Northumberland has an unusual home inside an old railway station, giving it a genuinely inimitable look. Visiting Barter Books is no less than a bookish adventure. The bookstore houses a coffee shop, offers free WiFi, and has a children's room for kids to play while adults browse through a massive selection of secondhand books, including first editions and hard to find titles. Moreover, its vintage aura, bare stone walls, gorgeous skylight, a warming fireplace, high ceilings, and impressive murals make it an idyllic spot for book lovers to explore leisurely. Barter Books, as the name suggests, is a place where readers can bring in their old books and exchange them for something else. The bookstore is also famous for having discovered the Keep Calm and Carry On poster, which started a worldwide trend.
Address: Alnwick Station, Wagon Way Rd, Alnwick NE662NP, United Kingdom
Photo Credit - www.flickr.com/photos/blahflowers/
Situated in Ojai, California, Bart's Books is the "largest independently owned and operated outdoor bookstore in the U.S.A." Started by Richard Bartinsdale, in 1974, it stocks an enormous collection of new, secondhand and rare books. Bart's Books is a local institution known not only for encouraging the art of reading but for its honour system wherein customers coming in at odd hours can pick one of the cheaper books and drop the money in a coin box. The best part about the bookstore is that it occupies ample open space, allowing bookworms to move around and discover exciting and unknown books.
Address: 302 W Matilija St, Ojai, CA 93023, United States
Photo Credit - www.bartsbooksojai.com/about/
The Book Cellar is a quaint old shop situated in the "convict cellars" of a1830s coaching inn in Tasmania called the Foxhunters Return; a historically significant setting that gives it a magical personality. The books here, both old and new, are a hearty mix of diverse genres, with a particular interest for regional titles. Since The Book Cellar is in a relatively small area, they have a sister concern located five minutes down the road called The Overflow Bookstore. Here readers can immerse themselves into a more comprehensive and equally assorted selection of books from around the globe.
Address: High Street, Campbell Town TAS 7210, Australia
Photo Credit - www.bookcellar.com.au/
Even though it is among the smallest bookstores in the entire world, Livraria do Simão in Lisbon still manages to store over 4000 books in its compact space. Don't get fooled by the slightly unkempt, sometimes graffitied walls outside what was earlier a tobacco shop, as the bookstore is a treasure-trove filled to the brim with great Portuguese literature featuring authors such as José Saramago, Miguel Torga, and Fernando Pessoa. While the majority of the titles are in Portuguese, there are several books and translations in English, Spanish, Italian, and French. The owner of the bookstore is always around to help with suggestions, and if required, he will gladly move out of his shop to give you more space to browse comfortably.
Address: Escadinhas de São Cristóvão 18, 1100-213 Lisboa, Portugal
Photo Credit -www.facebook.com/LivrariadoSimaoLisboa/