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.