Bucket List Bookstores

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together. Each week, Jana @ That Artsy Reader Girl assigns a topic and then posts her top ten list that fits that topic. More about TTT.

So many great bookstores, so little time! I’ll probably never get to visit all these beautiful spaces and places, but here’s my Top 10 Bucket List Bookstores I’d love to visit!

10. Boekhandel Dominicanen, Maastricht, Netherlands

This 13th Century church has been everything from a religious site to a horse stable, concert hall, boxing center, slaughterhouse, and children’s carnival, among other uses, before becoming a bookstore in 2006. Its current incarnation, Boekhandel Dominicanen, was established in 2014.

9. Tsutaya at Daikanyama T-Site, Tokyo, Japan

The Daikanyama Tsutaya bookstore has a “Library in the Woods” theme, with three building wings connected by a long “Magazine Street” that runs across them on the ground level. From this tree trunk-like artery, six book departments branch out by category (Cuisine, Travel, Cars and Motorcycles, Architecture and Design, Art, and Humanities and Literature). The site also includes a collection of rare books and vintage magazines from around the world, stationery shop, and café.

8. Word on the Water, London, England

If you love books and love boats, how could you not love the London Bookbarge, Word on the Water?! It reminds me of my local library’s “bookmobile” bus, and I adore it!

7. Open House, Bangkok, Thailand

Described as “a house that is open for all from creatives, students, families, to explorers,” Open House is a mix of spaces including a bookstore, restaurants, lounges, workspaces, shops, pop-ups and more at the Central Embassy. The mix of spaces is intended to be “a community that unites inspiration and lifestyle altogether in one place.” The bookstore itself is beautiful, but it’s the concept as a whole – and some of the green spaces in particular – that puts this one on my list.

*Interesting to note: Both Open House and the Daikanyama T-Site in Tokyo were designed by the same award-winning Japanese architectural firm, Klein Dytham.

6. Atlantis Books, Santorini, Greece

Atlantis Books began with a dream, a little wine and whiskey, and a joke about building a place their kids would one day run. And what a little dream it has become! This bookstore is a charmer, inside and out, and wow – what a view!

5. El Ateneo Grand Splendid, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Does it get any more dramatic than a theater-turned-bookstore?! The Ateneo Grand Splendid is just jaw-droppingly stunning! “Having retained its original frescoed ceilings, ornate theater boxes, elegant rounded balconies, detailed trimmings, and plush red stage curtains, the interior of the building remains as stunning today as when it was first envisioned by architects Peró and Torres Armengol.” The space was a performing arts theater from its inception in 1919, a cinema beginning in 1929, and underwent its final transformation to become a bookstore in 2000.

4. Jazzhole, Lagos, Nigeria

“Serious books. Deep music. Cool vibes.” Jazzhole is more than just a hip bookstore; it’s also a music shop and venue, as well as a “calm enclave where one may discover and celebrate Nigeria’s rich literary history, and indulge in a moment of quiet reflection, before heading back out toward the hustle.”

3. Shakespeare and Company, Paris, France

This list just wouldn’t be complete without the iconic Shakespeare and Company, an English-language bookshop in the heart of Paris, on the banks of the Seine, opposite Notre-Dame. Since opening in 1951, it’s been a meeting place for anglophone writers and readers, becoming a Left Bank literary institution. The bookshop, originally named Le Mistral, was founded by American George Whitman at 37 rue de la Bûcherie, Kilometer Zero, the point at which all French roads begin. It was given its present name in April 1964 — on the four-hundredth anniversary of William Shakespeare’s birth — in honor of a bookseller he admired, Sylvia Beach, who’d founded the original Shakespeare and Company in 1919. Her store at 12 rue de l’Odéon was a gathering place for the great expat writers of the time—Joyce, Hemingway, Stein, Fitzgerald, Eliot, Pound—as well as for leading French writers.

2. The Open Book, Wigtown, Scotland

Ever dreamed of owning your own bookstore? If you’re reading this post, I’m prettttttyy sure your answer is YES! So, here’s your chance: The Open Book is a bookshop holiday rental in Wigtown, Scotland (known as “Scotland’s National Book Town”). Spend the week living in the upstairs apartment while running this charming little bookshop by the sea, supported by a team of friendly volunteers.

1. Libreria Acqua Alta, Venice, Italy

As soon as I saw the topic for this week’s Top 10, I knew in a heartbeat what my #1 pick would be. The Libreria Acqua Alta has been on my bucket list since I first learned of its existence while reading about my #1 bucket list city, Venice, Italy. “The self-proclaimed ‘most beautiful bookstore in the world’ is composed of a number of over-stuffed rooms stacked wall-to-wall with books, magazines, maps, and other ephemera. Due to Venice’s constant flooding, however, these picturesque piles are all placed inside bathtubs, waterproof bins, and in one room a full-size gondola,” Atlas Obscura says of the store. The name itself even means “Book Store of High Water.” 

What are your bucket list bookstores?

6 thoughts on “Bucket List Bookstores

  1. Wow! These are all amazing, but I like numbers 1 and 10 the best. They’re stunning. I’ve been by Shakespeare and Company, although I didn’t get to go in thanks to COVID restrictions that made for very, very long lines. I was willing to wait, but my family wasn’t. Bummer.

    Happy TTT!


    Liked by 1 person

  2. I talk about it way to much, but check out Topping and Co in Bath! It’s my favourite bookshop. They no longer have the little shop but expanded into a massive Grade II listed building that used to be owned by Quakers.

    Liked by 1 person

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