When we travel, each corner we turn holds a history of its own. And, as travelers, each corner we turn presents an opportunity for discovery, a chance to fold into a particular place’s timeline and even become inspired. As John Steinbeck wrote, “… we do not take a trip; a trip takes us.”
So, take a wrong turn, or stroll around a corner and into a local bookstore during your travels, where you can fall in love with heartening words while learning more about the culture and history of a place. Not sure where to go? Whether you’re a bookworm or not, these three unique locales might just spark your interest or stir you to pick up a new read.
Countless travelers and publications note Livraria Lello (featured above) as one of the most beautiful bookstores in the world. Built in 1906, the former library features a neo-Gothic façade, a handsome, curvy red staircase and a grand ornament-carved and stained-glass ceiling.
Along the walls of the art nouveau interior, travelers will discover more than 100,000 titles in multiple languages. Find antique books as well as a large selection of readings that relate directly to the town of Porto—perfect for any out-of-town travelers searching to get in touch with the area’s history and culture.
Visitors browse the titles surrounding the courtyard at Bart’s Books. Photo courtesy of Kent Kanouse, Flickr.
When Richard Bartinsdale’s book collection outgrew his space in 1964, he constructed a few bookcases outside for anyone walking by to browse and leave money in a coffee can. Today, what started as a simple overflow of literature has grown to be the largest, independently owned outdoor bookstore in the U.S.
Travelers can discover literary treasures by picking up a 35-cent special, which can still be obtained on the honor system, or stumble upon rare first editions. Find a good book and sit under an umbrella in Bart’s courtyard, or play a game of chess with your family after you’ve each picked up a new read.
With books lining its tall walls, Cafebrería el Péndulo offers a wide variety of selections for passersby looking
to spend the afternoon engrossed in a book. Photo courtesy of Aquiles Carattino, Flickr.
Cafebrería el Péndulo
Named after the giant pendulum hanging from its ceiling, Cafebrería el Péndulo is filled with not only books but also entertainment. Enjoy performances by comedians and poetry readings as you sit or meander through this bookstore that is, literally, lined with books from floor to ceiling, and on its balcony level, too!
Inside, you’ll also discover Bukowski’s Piano Bar, named in honor of novelist and poet Charles Bukowski. Sip a cup of coffee or glass of wine, or enjoy breakfast (to live music on the weekends) in this Mexico City gem.
*The photo featured at the top of this article is of Livraria Lello. Photo courtesy of diegoperez74, Flickr.