Books take us to places we never thought we could see. They often make us feel things we didn’t see ourselves feeling that day. So, why not find a place that does the same things as the books it contains? Here are some good examples of places that can take you even further away than the books themselves.


(flickr/Cesar’s iPhoneography)

McAllen Public Library in Texas

What do you do with a huge, old Wal-Mart building? You turn it into something that is a lot more useful. You turn it into a public library. A 124,500 sq. ft. book library to be exact.



Libreria Acqua Alta in Venice

The Libreria Acqua Alta is a great place for those enjoy a more eclectic vibe. New and used books are shoved anywhere they can fit; gondolas, boats, canoes, and tanks. Some of the lesser used books, such as encyclopedias, are used as steps in a staircase or colorful decor on the outside panels. Pick up a used Italian book before you float down the Rio de la Tetta.



Shakespeare and Company in Paris

The first Shakespeare and Company location on Paris’s Left Bank was a popular place in the 1920s. It was a hangout for writers like Ernest Hemingway, Ezra Pound, and James Joyce. It closed after the German occupation in 1940. The current location opened in 1951 and was renamed to “Shakespeare and Company” in 1964 in tribute to the original.



House on the Rock in Wisconsin

In the 1940s a man named Alex Jones discovered a chimney rock and decided to build a house. The House on the Rock is a popular tourist attraction with a resort. What is amazing about the place is the multi-level library with discrete entrances to and from rooms. These happen to frame the rooms and give unique views of the library itself.


(flickr/Lauren Manning)

Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library at Yale

This jewel box shaped building is reason enough to visit the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library. But, if you’re not into architecture then there are a number of collections from a number of different authors. The library contains thousands of linear feet of modern works and medieval manuscripts alike.



International Library of Children’s Literature in Japan

The International Library of Children’s Literature is a branch of the National Diet Library. The majority of the building is glass to open up the library with wood cylinders. The Children’s Book Museum was once a reading room on the third floor.


(Wikimedia Commons)

Leakey’s Second Hand Bookshop in Scotland

The Scottish Highlands is home to one of the largest second-hand bookstores in the country. Leakey’s Second Hand Bookshop is more than just a store that houses over 100,000 books. It is a bistro-style cafe with homemade dishes and a wood burning stove. It being located in an old Gaelic church gives the surroundings an added touch of serenity.



Liyuan Library near Beijing

This cozy little spot was added to the small town of Huairou to help attract tourism. What they ended up with was a beautifully modern place to enjoy your favorite book. The sides of the dwelling are made from sticks of firewood held in place by the frame’s larger pieces of wood. Inside is simple yet functional. Tons of natural light will make any reader happy.


Lello & Irmao Bookstore in Portugal

On the outside is an Art Nouveau and Gothic inspired architecture. On the inside are books that are looked at after taking in the beauty of the interior. Also known as Livraria Lello, it is one of the oldest bookstores in Portugal. It’s also been called the third best bookstore in the world. If you happen to be in the area, you should do yourself a favor.


(flickr/Salon NYC)

Rijksmuseum Research Library in Amsterdam

The Rijksmuseum Research Library is the largest art history research library in the Netherlands. It’s part of the Rijksmuseum which is dedicated to arts and history. The library turned into a reading room after its renovation in 2004. It is clear that creativity and the study of its effects are widely celebrated within the walls of this library.



Josh is a freelance writer based in Nashville, Tennessee.

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