When I find myself alone in a city, as I did last week in Milan, the first thing I do is head to a bookshop. I can spend hours getting lost in a bookshop. Indeed I often stumble out a few hours later having to remind myself where I actually am. For me there is nothing more relaxing. So here are some of my favourite bookshops that I have discovered on my travels.
Rizzoli Galleria, Milan
I wanted to visit the Rizzoli bookshop in Milan simply because I am a huge fan of their opulent coffee table books. The bookshop is a marvel itself, being located in the magnificent Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, next to the Duomo. This shop is ideal to while away some hours. They have a sort of reading room at the back where you can delve into their latest publications ranging from a vast book on Di Vinci to Kim Kardashian’s selfie book. If I ever have a house to decorate I’ll head straight to Rizzoli to draw inspiration from their interiors books. There is also an outpost of Rizzoli in London at Somerset House
Books for Cooks, London
Maybe the best book shop in the world? Books for Cooks famously only sells cookbooks and serves the yummiest lunch in London. What more could you want? I am particularly fond of their food literature section. Every kitchen should have copies 1-10 of Books for Cooks’ own cookbooks. Some lovely people work here too.
Open Door Bookshop, Rome
In Rome, I need a decent (english speaking) bookshop. Luckily this is owned by my Roman friends’ family. It is an eclectic little second hand bookshop in picturesque Trastevere, an area which caters to English speaking students. I like coming here because you can rediscover books which are out of print or enjoy the interesting covers of books published abroad or in the 60s or 70s. They also have a whacky cookbook selection; recommended for a food historian. The delicious fish restaurant Osteria La Gensola is around the corner, so combine a visit to both and you have a lovely evening.
Faulkner House Books, New Orleans
I dream about this bookshop. Perhaps the most beautiful in the world? Stepping in off the street from steamy New Orleans’ French Quarter into this exquisite bookshop is a wonderful experience. Just being in New Orleans you know you are in the presence of some serious creative energy and history and thus a bookshop like this which bills itself as a ‘fine sanctuary for literature’ feels intoxicating. This was once the home of William Faulkner and now it is run by a couple who live behind the bookshop, in a house that looks equally fabulous. Indeed the shop feels as though being in an elegant private library. I remember there being quite a formidable selection of books. If the book is in here- you should have read it!
I loved turning up to Amherst Books and discovering that all the books I needed for certain courses were already arranged in piles for me. More bookshops in the UK should do this to discourage students ordering all their books from Amazon. Everytime I walked past this bookshop, which was daily, it was hard not to go in. The simple nature of the shop gave the impression of a place that really nourished education and interesting thought. They had a wonderful literature section, lovely postcards and all the Emily Dickinson you could ever need.
Any you wish to add to the list?