Nowhere is home to a writer more than a favorite bookstore, filled with inspiration, wonder and intrigue. Sometimes it can be the dazzling architecture, or the grand interior design, while other times, it is specifically what is on the shelf that makes the difference. As a writer, one might even be lucky enough to have their works on the shelves. Either way, we know that these bookstore recommendations are important in how they influence the following notable writers, and maybe they can provide us with more insight and inspiration in reading their works, or comprising our own.
1. Eso Won Books – Los Angeles
Ta-Nehisi Coates’, author of Between the World and Me, favorite bookstore, Eso Won Books, is home to black authors and black politics, and is an important community resource since 1987. A bedrock of critical race thought, Eso Won Books is an independent bookstore that is integral to diversifying the literary scene. Says Coates, “Eso Won is one among a long tradition of black bookstores that sprang up to water those roots. It is part of the larger community of independent bookstores that writers celebrate, but its specific mission is to make sure black authors always have a home.” A place full of recommendations and knowledge, this is a must visit bookstore.
2. Boekhandel Van Rossum, Amsterdam
Located in the Beethovenstraat area in Amsterdam, Boekhandel Van Rossum is Russell Shorto’s, author of Amsterdam: A History of the World’s Most Liberal City, go to bookstore that began its life in 1929 and continues today, though under a different owner. Re-designed and constantly putting life into the shop, Boekhandel has an art-deco design, and a cozy feel. Trying to bring quality books to the Amsterdam literary scene, Shorto enjoys the stores ability to “broad[en] [the] horizons in a world where people only want to have one opinion and no one to challenge them to view a situation from another perspective.”
3. The Strand, New York City
No list would be complete without New York City’s own, The Strand, and Dwight Garner, author of Read Me: A Century of Classic American Book Advertisements puts his finger on why this is not any ordinary bookstore. He says of the popular bookseller: “[It feels like] I can get through any kind of bleak day in Manhattan, as long as there’s a visit to the Strand planned for later.” Also founded in 1927, The Strand remains independent, family-owned, and a vital literary institution, complete with used and new books, as well as fashion and art for all book lovers. In a vastly rich cultural city such as NYC, this store provides 18 miles of books for that journey.
4. Hatchards, London
Though owned by mega-chain Waterstones, Pamela Paul, editor of By the Book: Writers on Literature and the Literary Life from The New York Times Book Review, still loves this London bookstore hideaway off of the Piccadilly Circus station. Walls lined with author quotes, Paul loves how “it retains an Old World feel and a determinedly British cast, with wooden banistered staircases and a carpet bearing the design of a book spine published by Hatchards in the Victorian era.” Themed tables that are labeled by quotes, book displays that are sure to entice any reader, and a comprehensively well stocked book selection makes Hatchards a stop that one needs to make in London. Not to mention the lively table that is devoted to drinking!
5. The Jazzhole, Lagos, Nigeria
With books and African music for sale, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, author of Americanah, celebrates this easy to miss bookstore that is a Nigerian gem. With a large span of genres, one can get the hottest new popular fiction or a rare book on African history. They have it all, including a traditional drum adorning the wall, along with framed images of important historical figures and books. She appreciates how “its casual, lived-in charm encourages browsing, and I have discovered beloved books there — books about Africa, in particular.” The owners and staff keep the store well stocked with books that explore a variety of cultures and genres. In addition to the books and music, they host live events and have a cafe in the back for any needed down time. In Adichie’s own words, “It feels human, it feels like a place warmly welcoming of all kinds of people.”
What is your favorite bookstore in the world? What are the reasons why?
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Featured image via Wikimedia
h/t New York Times