There's something about being surronded by books and finding complete piece and happiness. Entering the said establishment and getting hit by the smell of fresh print, and crisp papers bounded together. I could be speaking for myself and some other book lovers. But even if you're not an avid reader, one must admit the calming aesthetic and environment a good old fashioned library or well curated book shops create. A moment of order, of imagination, a moment to just stop and take your time to look around for stories yet to be told. No matter where you go, the invitation of wandering around between bookshelves is always so tempting, at least for me. So if you can relate and you're constantly on the look out to expand your bookshelf or just be surronded by books, or maybe you're just looking for a place to kill time and appreciate the aesthetics of a book haven, I hope you appreciate my humble bibliophile wishlist.
Established in 1986, Connemara Public Library basks in their old fashioned glory. Prided with Indo- Saracenic architecture, you'll be taken aback by the intricate woodwork, and the stunning stained glass windows. You'd feel as if you stepped into Hogwarts, focused on finding that right book of spells that's dated centuries ago, or you're keeping an eye out for Wong as your practice and learn your craft with Doctor Strange in the Library of Kamar Taj. Connemara brags of a hefty selection of prints from novels, journals, newspapers, braille manuscripts, even centuries old books (including a bible from 1608) that their team painstakingly sustains.
Pantheon Road, Egmore, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India
Desolate but calming. You've suddenly traveled back in time, to 13th Century Korea, and you're surronded by intricate and priceless blocks of wood, carved with the oldest and most complete version of Buddhist canon-- the Tripitaka Koreana. The archiceture is simple-- crafted specifically to care for the woodblocks to give it proper tempreture, moisture control, and air circulation. Monks, robed and serene add to the spiritual experience as they walk around between the aisle of wooden shelves, dedicated to the conservation of these Buddhist artifacts.
122, Haeinsa-gil, Gaya-myeon, Hapcheon-gun, Gyeongsangnam-do, South Korea
Sleek, minimalist, spacious, automated, environmentally friendly, community inviting-- Welcome to the future of libraries. Kanazawa Umimirai Library stands almost as an eye sore in the middle of residential areas. But this architectural feat brings in the 21st century to what once was considered the dying "business" of libraries. This "cake box" of a building not only holds shelves upon shelves of books (some of these shelves are automated, by the way!), and the typical reading/ study areas for both for those allowing themselves to be bothered, or isolated from the others, it also holds complex halls and meeting spaces, giving a more communal and neighborly feel to the typical library. The walls are punctured with around 6000 translucent glass holes, giving natural lighting to this 12- meter high building. By entirety, the library is crafted with the acknowledgement of giving a space for those who read for pleasure and those who read for work, keeping in mind the needed space for the community and the 400,00 books they house, the acoustics, the climate and tempreture (as they do rely on natural lighting) and even the smell. All of these are accounted to help create a healthy environment to stay, and be productive around the library.
I-1-1 Jichumachi, Kanazawa, Ishikawa Prefecture, Japan
You've definitely seen pictures from the Tainjin Binhai Library floating all over social media. Steps on steps, and shelves on shelves of books and nothing but books! You're literally surronded by books! Nicknamed as "The Eye", Tainjin Binhai Library's round-like architecture is is meant to stimulate the space for the use of reading, walking and even conversing. In the middle of the library-- completing the eye theme-- is a giant globe that serves as an auditorium inside. The building is 5 levels big, and though (sadly) not every book in this "book mountain" is real, there are other areas beyond the main atrium for you to locate the book of your choice.
Binhai District, Tianjin Province, China
It's like a rabbit hole: from the outside, it looks ordinary. But once you're in, you're suddenly falling into what appears to be another dimension. Before you know it, you're in Wonderland. Another notable book stop in China. Yangzhoe Zhongshuge invites you down their endless realm of books. The black mirror floors accompany their curved shelves to create an illusion of endless books. With soft lighting and arched halls, this library slash bookstore creates an atmoshpere enticing any book lover to stay and read a while.
9th Alley, Guangling Qu, Yangzhou, Jiangsu, China
Walk the halls of Strahov Monastrery Library like a regal-- gliding with elegance, sophistication and probably botching a European accent-- because it seems almost proper to do so. Baroque architecture, gilded wood carvings, intricate paintings on the walls and the ceiling, you really can't help but feel like you're searching for a book as part of your lessons to become the next royal ruler of the land. As it is a monastary, most if not all of their books are theological and philosophical. The main halls double as a museum with, showcasing curiosities such as remains or various sea creatures and corpses of sailors who were believed to have died by the hands of sea monsters. You can also find various sculptures of saints along the corridors, along with various finds from history, including a miniature coffee service made for the Habsburg empress Marie Louise in 1813.
Strahovské nádvoří 1/132, Prague, Czech Republic
Grab your ballgowns, your powdered wigs, your "best" English accent, and expect the Queen to ask for your presence, or a candelabra to start talking to you about a certain curse on a Prince. Biblioteca Joanina has been hailed as one of the most beautiful libraries in the world. And rightfully so, with it's exquisite Baroque stylings, built in 1717. You can't help but be breathless from the exotic woods and gold that support various books spanning in age from the 15th to the 19th century. These priceless books range from medicince, theologuy, philosophy, humanities, science, history, and law.
Largo da Porta Férrea, Coimbra, Portugal
From the outside, the Austrian National Library strikes you as a palace-- grandois Baroque architecture, and majestic detailings. Standing tall, front and center is a statue on horseback, accompanying the the building's grand arches, columns, and delicate carvings. Inside is just as marvelous. The State Hall is filled with round 200,000 leather bound historical books shelved two stories high, beautiful marble statues, and Ventian Globes. The Ceilings captivate your eyes with detailed paintings supported by ornate plaster work, golden finishings, and circular windows that allow natural lighting in the various halls of the library. Although the State Hall in itself is already an attraction, the National Library also hosts a Literature Museum, a Globe Museum, a Papyrus Museum, and a Esperanto Museum.
Josefsplatz 1, Vienna, Austria
It's definitely any book lover's dream to walk into a 2- storey, 65 meter long room, and it's filled with nothing but endless books on books on books-- sans the alternating white busts of philosophers and writers that welcome you into every wing at the bottom level. And this could also be a Star Wars fan's dream as it resembles the Jedi Archives in Episode II: Attack of The Clones.
The Library of Trinity College Dublin, Dublin 2, Ireland
A traditional and humble take on a library. Bristol Central Library serves the public as any straight to the point library should. The Baroque stylings of the past are still seen, but for the most part, the library has taken a more modern approach, blending in with the rest of common English buildings. In addition to keeping up with the modern era, the library prides itself with their interactive hexagonal book display that highlights people's physical presence among books. With over 400 books attached, a sensor recognizes human movement, and then the books will move along with you. It's the library's way of showing the world that physical books can coexist with the technology and that library have a future with the current generation.
Deanery Road, City Centre, Bristol, UK
Still waiting for your Hogwarts acceptance letter? Jump the gun and go there yourself via The John Ryland Library. Maintained and part of the University of Manchester, the tourists can easily feel like they stepped into the magical world created by JK Rowling, sans the second floor that's a working research library. Opened in the 1900's, the library boasts of grand neo- Gothic architecture with ribbed vaults, vast stone staircases and intricate arches. Each wing has a collection of dense stack of old books on dust- resistant bookcases. The library's book collection is believed to be the largest in the United Kingdom, including medieval illuminated manuscripts and examples of early European printing, including the first edition of James Joyce's Ulysses. They also house pieces of papyrus fragments. The most notable is the St John Fragment, believed to be the oldest extant New Testament text, the earliest fragment of the text of the canonical Gospel of John.
150 Deansgate, Manchester, United Kingdom
A social media and photography darling, The Last Bookstore is no stranger to pop culture. Famous for their sculputures, nooks and caves all made out of overstocked and damaged books, and creatively shelved books (like books arranged by color to mimic a rainbow), the store has become a go-to for patrons who wish to curate their Instagrams or make a bookish themed photoshoot. But despite the artistic attention, the store is still made to be a haven for genuine book lovers. From opening the door, the musty decadent smell of old print and well- worn pages immediatley hits your nose upon entrance-- every bibliophile's favorite scent sensation. The bookstore mainly houses reasonably priced second- hand books, and well- kept vintage publications. The building used to be a bank, explaining the high ceilings and marble pillars. The space allows books to be hidden on purpose in unseeming places, motivating readers the pleasure of hunting and searching. Every corner of this Los Angeles gem is made for the true book lover and coming from a mainstream standpoint, it seems to be working.More details
From the outside (like, outside the actual store) it looks like any other bookstore, with a few bookshelves displayed on every side, including beside the entrance door. Each shelf has it's own assortment of books. Through their door you step... outside. The patio is practically a labirynth of bookshelves and books, each section properly labeled. In the middle of the yard is a sitting set, if you ever want to cool down with your found titles under an umbrella. Not a fan of al fresco book hunting? The bookstore has an indoor area that literally houses more books. Because it's an actual house. Books are placed and catergorized according to the room of the house (Looking for cookbook? Kitchen!). Adding to its charming quality, the book store also heavily relies on the honesty of its patrons. Should you spot a book you'd like to take home at the end of the day, payment is done by putting the rightful amount into the store's money slot.More details
Yale University's Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library is the world's largest library dedicated solely for the containment, preservation, and open use of rare books, manuscripts and other publications. The architecture was made with delicate care of the titles in mind. The lighting specifically had to consider ample reading light for students and researchers, whilst limiting it enough that it won't affect the texts. With this in mind, the exterior of the building is made up of translucent marble panes, one and one-fourth inches that allows light to difuse into and illuminate the library. In the middle of the neo- gothic styled building is a glass tower that holds 180,000 of the millions of books the library carries. The tower houses the most valuable in the collection. These books are generally off- limits or exclusive to libriarians. But a marble staircase allows patrons to move around the glass tower. The mezzanine level of the library is an open area for students and other patrons to use for reading and studying. The library also has a classroom, reference and catalog room, reading room, staff room and a sunken room for use.
121 Wall St, New Haven, CT 06511, USA
To say the least, Shakespeare & Company isn't just a second- hand book trove for the avid reader. Shakespeare & Company is literally a sanctuary for writers, housing (yes, housing) more than 40, 000 writers in over 50 years. These boarders are (struggling) writers who sleep in between of the bookshelves of the store. In return, they are required to read one book a day, help out around the store, and write a one- page autobiography for the shop's archives. These writers are called "Tumbleweeds". The original store, opened by Slyvia Beach was a historical literary landmark in its own right, having writers such as Ernest Hemingway, James Joyce, Scott F. Fitzgerald and more as frequent visitors to the bookshop. It had to close during the second World War. In 1951, George Whitman opened "Le Mistral", modeled after Slyvia's orginal bookstore. And much like it's predecessor, it became a bohemian haven for book readers and writers, including Richard Wright, James Baldwin, Betrlolt Brecht, William S. Burroughs and more. With Slyvia Beach's permission, Whitman changed the renamed the store Shakespeare & Company after Beach's death on and the 400th birthday of William Shakespeare, in 1964 Today, George Whitman's daughter manages the shop, and host annual literary festivals. They've partnered with a bake shop that allowed them to open a cafe next door.
37 Rue de la Bûcherie, 75005 Paris, France
If you were to search for this unique bookshop while strolling the street of Italy, you were probably expecting to find its entrance by the canal via gondola ride. You'd seen the photos of it's open doors that led to the waters. Unfortunately, the spot that made this bookstore so famous isn't an entrance. It's actually their fire exit-- a tongue in cheek, wink- wink joke (I assume). You'd probably almost miss the entrance door by the amount of knick- knacks sold at its storefront, practically crowding their walkway. A handmade sign would say "The most beautiful bookshop in the world" in front of the stacks and racks of post cards, magazines, calendars and pins. You'd think you were about to step into a rackety souvenir shop or a crowded antique store. The inside is just as crammed and stuffed, this time, it's mostly books, stacks on stacks of them, haphazardly arranged in every nook and cranny. Adding to what makes it unique is the gondola in the middle of the sea of books carrying more (guess what?) books. You'd also spot some bath tubs serving the same purpose. Scattered around are beaded chandeliers, Venetian mannequins, and oars. It's so eccentric and curious, but also cozy. Most of their books are new, ranging from best sellers, comic books, cook books, Venice travelogues and more. They also come in different languages. Aside from the odd fire exit that leads to the canals that Instagrammers favor, the shop also has a courtyard where a flight of stairs made out of old encyclopedia's let you take a peak to a different canal.
Castello, Calle Longa Santa Maria Formosa 5176/B, Venice, Italy
Apparently, there aren't a lot of Anglophone bookshops in Greece, which made two American tourists set up Atlantis Books: a charming bookstore in the middle of Santorini, blended into their iconic white- washed homes kissed with blue. Inspired by the Parisian bookstore, Shakespeare & Company, inside is just as crammed, bohemian and cozy. The store mostly carries new titles, but they also sell pre- loveds and rare first editions. They have nooks for reading, a terrace to watch/ read by the sunset, and even a space to host their literary, music, and film festivals. To make it more homey, patrons are allowed to bring their dogs inside, rent a cat even, and adopt a second- hand book.More details
New York City, United States • Wishlist •
A true bookish landmark, and in no need for an introduction. The New York Public librabry is the second largest library in the United States (behind the Library of Congress), and the third largest in the world. Immortalized in several films, most notably in the classic film, Breakfast at Tiffany's and the cult favorite, Ghostbusters. The library has branches in Manhattan, the Bronx, and in Staten Island, but it's more notoriously know for it's main branch building, along with its Rose Main Reading Room.
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