Calling all bookworms! Find your next read at one of the world's most beautiful bookshops.
Shakespeare and Company, Paris, France
Located in Paris' historic Latin Quarter a stone's throw away from the Notre-Dame Cathedral, Shakespeare and Company is the city's most famous independent bookstore. Behind the shop's iconic yellow and green facade is a ramshackle literary oasis. Admire the shop's packed weathered wooden shelves, rustic chandeliers, and Parisian tiled floors. Specialising in English-language literature, you're sure to find new reading material among the stacks. The original Shakespeare and Company dates back to 1919 and saw the likes of F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, Ernest Hemingway, Djuna Barnes and James Joyce pass through its doors. The shop that you see today was opened by George Whitman in 1951 as an homage to the original.
Libreria Acqua Alta, Venice, Italy
Libreria Acqua Alta has found a novel solution to preventing its books from getting damaged during Venice's winter floods: gondolas and bathtubs instead of shelves, packed to the brim with old texts. When browsing the stores's large collection of rare out-of-print titles and Italian classics, you'll probably be joined by one of the neighbourhood cats that frequent the bookshop. In the event of flooding, the cats will jump aboard the gondolas and bathtubs too. A staircase of books on the patio also leads to a beautiful view of the city's canals and is probably the most photographed spot in the whole store.
The Last Bookstore, Los Angeles, USA
Housed in the grand atrium of a former bank, The Last Bookstore is California's largest used and new book and record store. And its mission? To keep the paper and ink book business alive. Marble columns left over from the building's days as a bank rise between stacks of second-hand books and records. On the mezzanine level, books are hung from the ceiling, erupting out from a bookcase. But the bookstore's greatest attraction are its windows and tunnels built out of books: it's the perfect spot for Instagramming!
El Ateneo Grand Splendid, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Occupying a former 1920s theatre in downtown Buenos Aires, El Ateneo Grand Splendid is an extremely strong contender for the most beautiful bookshop of all time. From the frescoed ceiling to the draped velvet curtains, the antique theatre's grandeur has been excellently preserved. Books line the walls and the theatre boxes are now intimate reading rooms. The curtains on stage have also been pinned back to make room for a café, serving quality coffee and cakes round-the-clock.
Livraria Lello, Porto, Portugal
This centuries-old nouveau art style bookstore and its winding staircase centerpiece was reportedly the inspiration behind several locations in J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter: Flourish and Blotts, Diagon Alley's premium bookstore, and the Grand Staircase at Hogwarts, known for changing its configuration without warning. Neo-gothic wrap-around shelves carved with literary Portuguese figures house books in both English and Portuguese. And there's even a café beneath the building's stained-glass skylight so visitors can enjoy a cup of coffee and their latest purchase in beautiful surroundings.