10 Of The World’s Most Exceptional Libraries & Bookstores

Bibliophiles, wordsmiths and book nerds unite – August 9 marks National Book Lovers Day! Whether you’re a devotee of the classics, an ardent admirer of romance novels, a fiend for fantasy, or a preacher of poetry, today is the day to cosy up with a dog-eared paperback in your book nook of choice – preferably in one of these amazingly beautiful libraries and bookstores around the world.

 

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Trinity College Library, Ireland

Trinity College Library holds Ireland’s largest collection of books and the famous Long Room is your new#homelibrarygoals inspo. The historic 65-metre long chamber, which features an impressive barrel-vaulted ceiling, houses over 200,000 of the library’s oldest leather-bound books on its dark oak floor-to-ceiling bookshelves spanning across two storeys. It seems that George Lucas is also a fan with the Jedi Archives from Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones bearing a striking resemblance to the Long Room.

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Liyuan Library, China

China has its fair share of amazing libraries, but this library in the village of Huairou, on the outskirts of Beijing, is on another level altogether. Designed by architect Li Xiaodong Atelier, the library’s façade is entirely covered by bundled sticks of firewood, blending into its environment and allowing natural light to filter through the openings into the complex. The interior is minimalist with no furniture and the steps between the levels act as shelving and seating. This is the ultimate place to switch off from the world and read in solitude.

 

3 / 10
Lello & Irmão Bookstore, Portugal

You might feel a sense déjà vu as you enter the Lello & Irmão Bookstore in Porto, and it’s not because it is one of the oldest bookstores in Portugal. It’s rumoured that J.K. Rowling, who spent a considerable amount of time in Porto teaching English and at the Lello & Irmão Bookstore, drew her inspiration for the Hogwarts’ library from the bookstore. It’s not difficult to see how the ornate Neo-Gothic-meets-art-deco interior with its impressive red feature staircase, stained-glass ceilings and decorated walls could find a place in the world of wizardry that millions have come to love and adore. You’ll also be happy to know that the bookstore is muggle-friendly.
Photo: Manuel Alende Maceira/Flickr

4 / 10
George Peabody Library, USA

The George Peabody Library in Baltimore, Maryland, holds more than 300,000 books in its impressive collection; however, even more spectacular is the grand architecture of the majestic five-storey building. Think soaring ceilings, decorative cast-iron balconies and grandiose columns, and you’ll understand why this is not only a popular place for bookworms but also for wedding parties.


5 / 10
Librería El Ateneo Grand Splendid, Argentina

This remarkable bookstore in Buenos Aires is located in a converted 1920s theatre, where the theatre boxes are now used as reading alcoves. Embrace the spectacle of the venue and put on your finest dress wear to browse the bookshelves if you should feel so inclined. The deep-red stage curtains, intricate balcony detailing, splendid ceiling and the palpable feel of yesteryear set the scene for bookworms to snuggle up with a book and get lost in a romance, drama – or tragedy, perhaps?

 


6 / 10
State Library of Victoria, Australia

The octagonal La Trobe Reading Room in the State Library in Melbourne is celebrated for its landmark glass-domed roof. The white walls and traditional dark oak furniture lends a stately ambiance to the room, the perfect setting for the myriads of university students cramming for exams and trying not to get distracted by the exquisite dome above. The best view is from the upper floors where you can see the formation of the eight long desks all arranged to align with the raised librarian’s desk in the centre of the room.
Photo: Cory Doctorow/Flickr

7 / 10
Admont Library, Austria

Are you in a library or Versailles? You may think the latter when you enter the Admont Library. The library is the oldest monastic library in the world and it is found within Admont Abbey, a Benedictine monastery in the town of Admont. With its ornamental Baroque architecture, elaborate ceiling frescoes, fine marble flooring, and white and gold finishings, this opulent library is one that Marie Antoinette would have likely approved.

 


8 / 10
Shiba Ryotaro Memorial Museum Library, Japan

Tadao Ando is a Japanese architect renowned for his simple designs that draw upon the natural elements, and he has certainly extended this principle to the Shiba Ryotaro Memorial Museum Library in Osaka. The library was built in memory of Shiba Ryotaro, who was an important figure in Japanese literature. The library contains more than 20,000 of Ryotaro’s books, neatly arranged in wooden shelves, on an 11-metre high bookcase. Rows of books fill up the entire room with no other distractions. If there was a bibliophile heaven­, this may very well be it.
Photo: Stack Living

 


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Kansas City Central Library, USA

It’s no secret that Americans like to supersize everything and that includes their bookshelves. A fantastic library in its own right, the Kansas City Central Library is even more famous for the façade of its parking garage, called the ‘Community Bookshelf’. There are 22 book spines that make up this ‘bookshelf’, with each spine measuring just over 7.5 metres tall. The titles pay tribute to the eclectic reading tastes of the community as library members were asked to vote on the book titles that would be represented.
Photo: David King/Flickr

 


10 / 10
Selexyz Dominicanen, Holland

Running a bookstore out of a converted building seems to be the magic ingredient, and it has certainly worked for the Selexyz Dominicanen Bookstore in Maastricht, which operates out of a 13th-century Dominican church. The gothic architecture, frescoed ceilings and dark stone columns combine to create an ideal backdrop for reading tales of crime, mystery and espionage.
Photo: Bert Kauffman/Flickr

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