Last night I surfed the internet for hours looking for a bookshop or bookshop tearoom photo that conveyed something close to how I imagine Biblio, both outside and in. I searched in vain, much to my surprise. Either people aren’t taking photos of a certain kind of bookshop or there aren’t any that look and feel similar to the way I imagine Biblio to be.
What I did find, though, were many articles and posts documenting the best bookshops in the world or in a person’s particular city.
While I lived in Hamilton for about five years, my ex and I would plan Saturdays as second-hand bookshopping days, mapping out the stores and cafés along the way and spending the entire day searching for treasures. We walked in all manner of shops; one in particular sticks out in my mind because it was a complete firetrap. I was afraid to touch a book for fear the precarious piles might tumble down around me. There, however, I saw my first leather-bound antique copy of a Dickens volume, which the Fagan-like shopkeep kept squirrelled away in his back room. He brought it out to show me because he heard me exclaiming about some other copy of Dickens. This man’s stool was a pile of books. The whole store was piles of books. I don’t even remember there being shelves!
Although I have a certain vision for Biblio, I can also appreciate bookstores that are nothing like it. “The World’s 10 Best Bookshops,” an article written for the Guardian, showcases incredible places to buy books, not least of all because of their stunning architecture.
Paris’s Shakespeare and Co usually ends up on lists of favourites, but not on this one, and I have to confess I found that refreshing. Admittedly, I’ve never been, but from the pictures I can tell it’s not a place I’d enjoy all that much. I’m too claustrophobic and it’s a bit too eclectic for my taste. Not to say I’d never visit, but going upstairs to see Jeremy Mercer’s bed and such wouldn’t be on my priority list.
“The World’s 6 Coolest-Looking Bookstores” overlaps the Guardian article a bit, but with the addition of a very exciting kids’ bookshop in Beijing. I love kids’ books and have a nice collection of my own. And I love this store’s design, especially the nooks for people to curl up in. I have similar plans that stem from childhood, when I would hole up in nooks and crannies around the house (usually on the floor) or in the library (I lived in the library, especially since my mom worked there), squeezed under mounted shelves devouring Nancy Drews.
From these above articles, my very favourite, a place I must visit at some point, is Portugal’s Livraria Lello. Check out number 3 on the “Coolest-Looking” list and tell me you’re not in love!
My personal favourite bookshop is one I’ve visited in Ottawa. There are several about, in Toronto and Montreal as well, but Ottawa’s is the only one I’ve been to. It’s called Nicholas Hoare, and it’s beautiful. This is the closest I’ve found to Biblio, come to think of it. Scarily close. I totally forgot to look there last night while searching for a photo to use for my previous post.
If you’ve got a favourite bookstore, I’d love to see or hear about it. In fact, I’ll post it on my Everybody’s Favourites page!