Libraries may be temples of knowledge and wisdom, but a bookstore offers the luxury of keeping the wisdom to yourself, forever. It's the place you can go to after having read an amazing book that you want for the keeps. These bookshops got famous and are much loved not just for the books they offer, but also the ambience, and the history they share. So here are the most wonderful bookstores from around the world that'll charm you to them, one quaint little place at a time.
1. Libreria El Pendulo - Mexico City, Mexico
Mexico, it is said, resembles the city of Paris when it comes to bookstores and this one store will be your answer to why. It has a small bar, a cafe and a bookstore, all under one roof. You can also enjoy live stand-up comedy once in a while.
2. Polare - Maastricht, Holland
This bookstore opened its doors in the year 2007, and continues to attract people with its Gothic charm. Ranked as one of the most beautiful bookstores, this one is a 700-year-old church built in 1294, and still has all the grandeur it used to, back then. And yes, it's huge.
3. El Ateneo Grand Splendid - Buenos Aires, Argentina
Ah, this one. You can actually sit in old theatre boxes and read. That's because this used to be a theatre in the 1920's and has lost little or let's say none of its charm with the lusturous ceilings and ruby red curtains.
4. Kids Republic - Beijing, China
This is the first bookstore in China that specialises in children's books. But looking at the colours and reading cubicles, one can imagine being tucked away with a book here, for hours at a stretch.
5. Shakespeare and Company - Paris, France
For every friend who's visited Paris, I've had a simple request of buying themselves a book from here, so that I get to keep the wrapper in which the book arrives. Now I have a closet decorated with the same. This bookstore featured in the movie Midnight in Paris, and is one of the cosiest places in Paris to sell the kind of variety that they have.
6. Barts Books - Ojai, California
Richard Bartinsdale built a collection of bookcases in 1964, on which he showcased his collection of books so that people could have a look while passing by the California sidewalk. Now, this is the biggest open boostore, and has some of the rarest books present. And of course, it's beautiful.
7. Ler Devagar - Lisbon, Portugal
The name of the library translated to English means, 'read slowly', and it's the ambience of leisure that will prompt you into losing the mundane hurries of everyday life. This place used to manufacture thread and fabric in 1864, and when the machinery was moved out, this bookstore happened. Just two floors full of amazing. That's all.
8. Librería Acqua Alta - Venice, Italy
This one overlooks a canal and has a rowing boat inside filled with books, and Venice is the only place that can have it! Luis Frizzio is a 70-year-old man who owns a lot of cats that can be seen perusing the place. It almost overflows with books and is a wonderful place to sit sipping on tea, with a book in hand.
9. Livraria Lello e Irmao - Porto, Portugal
This bookstore is one that's familiar with Potterheads, because of all the times it has featured in Harry Potter movies. This bookstore gives you the feeling of an ancient palace, renovated and restocked with books. It's beautiful, with all it's ornate pillars and Gothic decor, and it will hold a special place in a Potterhead's heart, 'Always'.
10. Plural Bookshop - Bratislava, Slovakia
If you like quirk then this is the bookstore you need to visit. The floors are sandwiched between bookshelves and used by readers to sit and browse, and then manifests into an auditorium for talk shows and events. It also offers coffee, you guys!
11. Librairie des Colonnes - Tangier, Morocco
This historic bookshop has also been home to many famous authors. Famous for its brilliant architecture and design, it's a haven for booklovers.
12. Books Actually - Singapore
If ancient artifacts (I might be exaggerating) interest you as much as books do, then this is the place you need to get to. It offers a large number of books and also sells items like the typewriter. So go here, and you'll go back in time.
13. Librairie Avant-Garde - Nanjing, China
Once a bomb shelter, this bookstore has been awarded the most beautiful one in China, by CNN. Spread over a massive area of 4000 square feet, this is the paradise from which you can pick your favourite flowers.
14. Livraria da Vila - São Paulo, Brazil
This bookstore not just sells but also uses the merchandise to decorate the place. That's right. Even the atriums are decorated with books, something you can see when you look at the ground floor.
15. Bookabar Bookshop - Rome, Italy
One of the largest inter-disciplinary exhibition areas, it has dedicated two of its three floors to books. The third floor is a museum, and the cafe next to it has a menu that renames itself according to the items on display at the museum, and we cannot vouch for how appetising that would be.
16. John K. King Used And Rare Books - Detroit, Michigan
If the smell of old books entices you, then this bookstore will be everything you ever prayed for. Once a glove factory, this now sells old books. It's rustic, and beautiful.
17. Cook & Book - Brussels, Belgium
You're mistaken if you think they sell cook books. But located in the bustling city, this place offers good food, with good books, in a restaurant inside the store. So yeah, don't waste time and read while you eat. Also, it has books everywhere, even on the ceilings!
18. Barter Books - Alnwick, UK
This is the place where all the 'Keep Calm' slogans come from. Mary Manley opened this bookstore in an old train station and followed the barter system, where you could swap books. It made the headlines in 2001, when she found an old World War 2 poster that read, 'Keep Calm and Carry On', which has now turned into an international phenomenon.
19. Atlantis Books - Santorini, Greece
Nothing great ever happened over salad has been proved true once again. Two friends got together over wine, and decided to turn an old village house into magic. It hosts festivals and readings on the terrace, with the setting sun for a view on a Mediterranean island.
20. Brazenhead Books - New York, USA
When he could no longer afford the rent of his store, he moved it to his Upper East Side house. Most of his neighbours are unaware of it too. All you need to do to visit, is call him and set an appointment. If you ever find his number.
21. Le Bal Des Ardents - Lyon, France
You can call this place a voice for the voiceless, as it supports and promotes unknown writers, publishing houses and independent themes. The name means 'The burning ball' look at the entrance, and you'll know why.
22. Librairie Ptyx - Brussels, Belgium
If there's a building that screams 'Bookstore!' it's this. The wall carries a façade of a dictionary, with the name of famous authors and their bios.
23. Book Now - Bendigo, Australia
Once again, if you love the smell of pages that have crossed hands, this place offers it in plenty. It's difficult to come out with nothing, when it offers more than 60,000 hand me downs to choose from. Also, the old house feels.
24. Livraria Cultura - Sao Paulo, Brazil
Eva Herz had escaped the Nazis in Berlin, and arrived in Brazil, wher she started a bookstore in the spare room of her rented apartment in 1928. Today, it's a sprawling place that offers a dragon to play on, spacious areas to lounge and a four-floor dream stacked with books. Wow!
25. Powell’s Books - Portland, USA
It's so huge that you need a map to go through it, which is provided by the store, of course. Previously a car dealership, it now sells books old and new.