The Ten Best Bookstores For Vacation Reading
When you know exactly what books you want to read on vacation, a big chain bookstores or Amazon are quite convenient options. But when you're not quite sure what you'd like to read on the beach, or in the mountains or by that lake...when you're just experiencing an inchoate craving for a certain literary texture, you simply can't do without an independent bookstore. And while it's a comforting feeling to have your reading material lined up ahead of your vacation, I say it's even more fun to hit a terrific bookstore that's far from home. Here are ten terrific booksellers that will not to disappoint:
1. Powell's, Portland, Oregon. This is the mother ship for book nerds -- the largest independent and used bookstore in the world, which happens to be great for browsing and for when you're looking for a title in particular. If you're vacationing in the Pacific Northwest, and go a little nuts with the book purchases (and I'm not saying this has ever happened to me) Powell's does ship.
2.The Strand, New York City. This is the sole survivor of what was once known as Book Row. This venerable shop has been in business since 1927 -- it's a paradise for book browsers, although it can be rather hellish if you're looking for a particular title. Don't expect much help from the staff. Do expect to be tempted by a very cute range of tote bags.
3.Tattered Cover, Denver. You'd be hard pressed to find a more pleasant vibe in a bookstore anywhere -- it would be wrenching not to plan to spend a good couple of hours at the historic LoDo neighborhood store. (There's even a fireplace.) Bonus points if you can make it to one of the store's many author events.
4.Stanford's, London. This is the largest travel book store in the world, and it is another place where it's easy to get lost. Luckily, there are many maps and globes on offer that will help you find your way again. No matter how obscure the destination, if there's a book about it, you'll probably find it here.
5.Open Air, Toronto. An ironically-named travel book shop for a store that is underground and the most crowded bookstore I've ever been in, anywhere. This is terrific for browsing, so long as you don't topple over teetering stacks of books.
6.Idlewild Books, New York City. Rounding out my selection of English language travel bookstores is one of my favorite places in the world, period. This smallish shop organizes all of its books by country -- so you'll find guidebooks, novels and travel narratives for, say, China, all shelved right next to one another. So brilliant, so handy, so dangerous to the wallet.
7.City Lights, San Francisco. If you're a big fan of Sarah Palin, I suppose you won't like City Lights that much. (On the other hand, what are you doing in San Francisco?) This progressive bookshop was founded by poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and while it was once all-paperbacks, there are now books of all bindings. As you'd expect, there's a great selection of poetry.
8. Harvard Bookstore, Cambridge. The location makes you feel smarter instantly -- the staff picks (and helpful staff recommendations) make this comprehensive store a great place to stop before you head out to your vacation on the Cape, Nantucket or Martha's Vineyard.
9. Persephone Books, London. This is a publisher that's also a bookseller -- the specialty here is gorgeously designed books, mostly neglected classics penned by female author's in the 20th century. You're going to want to collect them all.
10.Bluestocking Books, San Diego. This is an inviting little shop in San Diego's Hillcrest area. It's not huge, but the shelves are stocked with care. A bit of browsing and you'll have what you need to keep your mind busy while your body enjoys the nearby beach.