Best Book Stores In The World

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Best Book Stores In The World

“It is clear that the books owned the shop rather than the other way about. Everywhere they had run wild and taken possession of their habitat, breeding and multiplying, and clearly lacking any strong hand to keep them down.” Agatha Christie

I love traveling. Some things I don’t mind skipping out on. Base jumping is always a pass. Art and Architecture is always in. I wish I had more time for fashion. But there are few things more tragic than knowing I strolled through the streets of a far off city and walked right past a book attraction I may never get the chance to see again. This collection of bookstores includes many I have seen and some that got away. I write this blog with a hint of regret as I am moving and once again I have to narrow down my collection of books.

Shakespeare and Company, Paris, France

This independent bookstore on Paris’s left bank was originally founded in 1919 by Sylvia Beach, and became a popular gathering space for famous writers such as Ernest Hemingway, Ezra Pound and James Joyce. It might seem strange for an English-language bookstore to have such an important place in the history of literary Paris, but many notable English-speaking writers gathered in the City of Light during the 1920s to work on their craft. These writers and artists became known as the ‘Lost Generation’ and Shakespeare and Co was at the center of their world.  In the 1920s, this was not only a bookstore, but also a lending library. Another reason Shakespeare and Co is so well-known in literary circles is for its famous sleeping facilities. There are over 10 beds in the bookstore that have offered a place of rest to young writers since the 1950s. The present-day bookshop isn’t the original shop which was shut down by the Nazis during the French Occupation in World War II. It was reopened at its current address in 1951. In 1981 the owners daughter, named Sylvia after Sylvia Beach, runs the bookshop and is a wealth of knowledge about the history of the building and the writers that have passed through this famous door.

El Ateneo Grand Splendid, Buenos Aires, Argentina

The Teatro Grand Splendid  was built in 1919 as a theatre for top-tier tango concerts. What a wonderful name for a theatre. Tango legends such as Carlos Gardel, Francisco Canaro, Roberto Firpo, and Ignacio Corsini performed here. In 1929, the theater underwent its first transformation to become a cinema, with the distinction of being the first in Buenos Aires to show sound film. Its latest transformation is the El Ateneo bookstore. The painted ceiling, detailed balconies, and stage are all intact. The private boxes are now small reading rooms. The stage is a café. The shelves fit perfectly around the theater’s original shape. The book collection is pretty standard and mostly in Spanish. It is an amazing place to buy a book or have a coffee on the famous stage.

Livrario Lello, Porto, Portugal

Once upon a time Livraria Lello was an old beautiful book store. The Lello book store was built in 1906 in Porto, Portugal by the Lello Brothers (Antonio and Jose). Their book store is one of the most ornate book stores in the world, mixing Neo-Gothic and Art Deco elements. Carved wood ceilings, a stain-glass roof, an undulating, opulent red staircase, and even a built-in wheel-barrow on rails for moving the store’s 120,000 books all make the Lello seem like a bookstore out of some fantasy-world. One day some lady named J.K. Rowling lived in Porto while working on her first book. You might have heard of it- Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Livraria Lello is reputed to have inspired parts of Hogwarts. Since then, it has been inundated with Potter fans from around the world wanting to catch a glimpse and selfie of the bookstore’s interior.

Cook And Book, Brussels, Belgium

A unique restaurant that is also a bookstore… Or a bookstore that’s also a restaurant? The huge bookstore is located on the outskirts of the city. There are different bookstore entrances divided by themes. In the literature themed bookstore, the books are hanging from the ceiling and most of the books for purchase are in French. The cucina themed section has cooks behind the lunch bar and books filled in the salad bar. There are nine different bookstores and two restaurants. Be careful when hunger hits you while you’re caught in the middle of a good book reading. Bringing a book to the table while eating means that you’ll have to pay for the books and whatever else you consumed at the table.

Libreria Acqua Alta, Venice, Italy

This bookstore is close to St. Mark’s Square and opened in 2004. The name translates to “bookstore of high water” due to the store being plagued by Venice’s rising waters, which regularly flood the floors of the shop each winter. To combat the issue, the bookstore’s owner, Luigi Frizzo, piled all of the books into waterproof bins, bathtubs, canoes, and even gondolas in order to protect the literature. Books are everywhere possible and seem to have taken control of the space.

Selexyz Dominicanen, Maastricht, The Netherlands

This location of the Selexyz chain of bookshops occupies a thirteenth century Dominican church. The glorious interior is massive and includes an eating area.To maintain the integrity of the space, the architects built vertically, which means the three-story bookstore is not only impressively imposing, but also outfitted with neat walkways, staircases and elevators. A Frescoed vaulted ceilings soar over the book browsing activity.

Carturesti Carusel, Bucharest, Romania

Literally translated as the “Carousel of Light” in English, Cărturești Carusel is situated in a restored 19th-century building in the very heart of Bucharest’s Old Town. It has six floors, over ten thousand books and a bistro on the top floor. Built in the 19th Century by the Chrissoveloni family, the impressive columns and spiral staircases were once the headquarters for their banking dynasty. A few decades later, it was transformed into a general store. In the 1990s the structure had become unstable and the building was abandoned. It was later restored and opened as a bookstore.

Barter Books, Ainwick, UK

Barter Books in Alnwick is the most magical place for book lovers. It was opened by Mary Manley in 1991 and is now one of the largest second-hand bookshops in Europe. The store is situated inside a Victorian railway station which is a beautiful building with so much character. Those with a particular interest in the station’s history and architecture can take a walking tour. There are books everywhere and comfortable chairs, sofas, fires and even a train running on tracks above your head. Amazing quotes join bookcase to bookcase and there are beautiful murals to enjoy.

Livraria Da Vila, Sao Paulo, Brazil

The front door of Livraria de Vila is made of revolving bookcases. Once you get inside, you’ll notice books on every surface – on shelves from floor to ceiling, on nooks and crannies, and even on shelves carved into holes between each floor. In fact, this bookstore seems to be made of books.

City Lights,San Francisco, USA

As a reader, City Lights is one of my favorite bookstores. It is heavily associated with the Beat movement and its writers – Neal Cassady, Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg and store co-founder Lawrence Ferlinghetti. The big story behind the store is the obscenity trial surrounding Ginsberg’s Howl And Other Poems, which City Lights published and sold in 1956. I wasn’t a huge fan of the poem but it was deemed obscene and the poem went on trial. Lawyers were interrogating academics over the literary merit of a graphic work. City Lights grew to occupy all three floors of the building with an outstanding selection of world literature, poetry, and progressive nonfiction that is as significant today as it was in the ‘50s. City Lights gives us a physical reminder that ideas and words will always be challenged because they are powerful. Of course I bought a copy of Howl.

Fly safe,
JAZ

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Things I Have Learned In Argentina

Things I Have Learned In Argentina

“I am not sure that I exist, actually. I am all the writers that I have read, all the people that I have met, all the women that I have loved; all the cities I have visited.”

―Jorges Luis Borges (Argentine writer)

An asado in Argentina is every carnivore’s dream. Gather  your friends, drink wine and coca cola and stuff yourself with meat.

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Futbol (soccer) is a passion of the Argentine people. Every pueblo has at least one soccer field.  When you fly into Buenos Aires you will see many.

Carlos Gardel is to tango what  Elvis Presley is to rock and roll.

Art Graffiti is not exactly illegal in Argentina. You can paint on street walls in broad daylight. Graffiti artists from all over the world come here to paint.

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Cristina Kirchner  (Presidente of Argentina) takes a helicopter to work everyday from her house in the suburbs of Buenos Aires. You can see the Argentine tax dollars at work.

Argentina is considered to be the most literate country in South America. They were the first to publish Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years Of Solitude when others turned him down. (It is one of my favorite books so I thought I would mention it)

In Peru, I learned about what the Spanish did to the Incas. In Argentina I learned about what the Incas did to the tribes living there. Conquerors are never all that innocent. (Pucara of Tilcara- pre Inca fortification)

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Driving on unpaved roads for hours in Jujuy-not so much fun; seeing the salt flats in Salinas Grandes -priceless.

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A mechanical saint will come out of a door in the town  hall of Humahuaca  at 12:00 pm. He will wave his arms, music will play and you will be blessed. Sometimes religion is that easy.

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Birds eat the parasites off animals. When you see a bird on a horse, he is working.

There are at least twenty-four legal holidays in Argentina. There is Flag Day.. There is the day to celebrate the person who made the flag. There is Friend’s Day. There is the day to celebrate the moon landing. I get the feeling Argentines’ don’t like to work so much.

Ruta 40 goes throughout Argentina like Route 66 goes through the United States.

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Chile and Argentina have their problems but things are better in the last few years. It is usually about borders and waters.

Most of the tobacco grown here. Is for export to the US and China.

Argentina charges an entry fee of one hundred and sixty dollars to all visitors from the  U.S.  It must be paid online before the date of entry or they may not let you in when you get there.  According  to Argentines,  this is because of all the Argentines who have paid visa fees and been denied visas. i don’t know if this is true but it sounded good.

Argentina is the largest producer and consumer of Yerba Mate. (mate cups – number one Argentine souvenir)

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Eating kidneys (rimones),intestines (chinchulines), ribs, testicles, black sausage, any glands and sweetbreads is delicious to someone other than me. (intestines, etc)

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It is mandatory to vote in Argentina.

Many Argentines did not like Eva Peron.

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Argentines have an amazing ability to mobilize a protest. They will stand up for what they think is right or wrong and let it be heard. Late November to early January is protest high season where many of the unions will demand raises due to the out of hand inflation that takes place here every year. Drop by Plaza de Mayo or Plaza Congreso. I was there on May 25th  Argentine Independence Day. They were protesting.

Paraguay is the largest producer of Marijuana.  Canada is the largest exporter to the United States.

Argentine Polo players are among the best in the world. Serious polo tournaments are held here. From September to December the best polo players play in Argentina.

An altitude of 4170 meters means 13,682 feet above sea level and a headache.

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An estancia is a ranch or farm with a big hacienda. They are usually many hectares. We visited many estancias for lunch. They all served asado.

Anything can be made from salt. (like this table)

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Llamas and alpacas are domestic animals. Vicunas and guanacos are wild and usually cannot mate in activity. ( wild vicunas)

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There are exceptions. (Coquenos, el refugio de las vicunas )

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Vicunas are the Princes and Princesses of the Andes.

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The Argentine government has a list of names for new babies.  If the name you choose is not on the list, you cannot legally use it. Today,  people can petition the government to add more names.

Gay marriage has been legal here for about year. Recently they have had their first gay divorce.

The new Pope is from Argentina.

Argentina has close affection for cinema. They have the highest rates of movie viewing in the world. They like watching both locally made movies and Hollywood flicks.

For all those who love animated films – The world’s first animated films were created and released in Argentina, by a person named Quirino Cristiani in 1917.

Argentines pronounce the LL as a soft G. They say Ja-ma for llama and pa–ree-ja  for Parilla. In Salta they sometimes pronounce their R as a soft G and say peh-jo for perro.  It sounds a littler Portuguese sometimes.

Argentines can smoke and own Marijuana but they cannot buy it or sell it.

Argentines can chew and posess Coca Leaves but it is illegal to buy and sell them. (Look for the Bolivian women in the square in Humahuaca, the leaves help with altitude sickness).

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Condors mate in the air and mate for life. if the female dies, the male commits suicide. If the male dies, the female takes another mate for the procreation of the species. There is a lesson here.  I am not sure  what it is.

If a person in Argentina is carrying an iPad or IPhone, he probably bought it on the black market or he is not an Argentine.

Argentines have a coffee and a sweet around 6:00pm. Dulce De Leche is always a good choice. As I have gained a few kilos on this trip , I wish I had chosen it less.

Restaurants do not open  for dinner until nine o clock. Most people eat dinner after ten. I did not understand that until  I had been here for a week and eaten that huge lunch every day around two o clock. I did not get hungry  till ten.   You can be like the Argentines and eat meat again or be like the Americans and have soup, bread and cheese.   I also completely now understand the need for the siesta till five. Having wine, meat and potatoes at  lunch makes you sleepy in the afternoon.

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Most public schools go from eight to twelve or one to five. They have  less hours of school than we do. Their literacy rate is 97.5 per cent. Some people feel it is ok and others feel that it is too little and save for private school. Their school uniform is a white lab coat.

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A dog’s best friend is his llama (pronounced jama).

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Police in Argentina are known to be corrupt.

In Argentina you can dry your own red chilies in the sun.

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They say that Argentina got the Iguazu Falls and Brazil got the view. I don’t know about that. They are pretty spectacular in Argentina. (complete with a real rainbow)

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It takes ten minutes by rowboat to get to Paraguay from Misiones, Argentina. (view of Paraguay across the Parana River from our house)

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Argentina is one of the largest producers of wines since the 16th century and has around 1800 wineries. Malbec is their most planted grape. The irrigation system was started centuries ago by Indians. It is the fifth largest wine-producing country.

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Studies have shown that red wines are much better than white wines in preventing heart disease. Scientists believe that the polyphenols in red wine seeds and skins are the reason for this.  High altitude wines are particularly rich in polyphenols. This is because UV radiation increases at higher elevations and results in a greater concentration of polyphenols in these wines. We visited many high altitude vineyards in Salta province.(Colome)

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Torrontes is a white Argentine wine grape which produces a  wine with moderate acidity and a smooth texture. I like it.

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Cars have the right of way on the road. (from front of van – goats running to the side of the road – big deal for the city kid.)

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Cows move slower.

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Everything can be made out of cactus.

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If you are planning to change pesos back into dollars at the Argentine airport as I was, don’t. Christina doesn’t allow you to give back pesos at the airport. What you change in Argentina, stays in Argentina.

Buen Dia and Fly Safe

Jayne