The magic of the bookshop

With National Read a Book Day on 6th September 2019 what better occasion to make time for reading and remind ourselves of all the pleasures it can bring?

Reading is one of our favourite pastimes and one of the best uses of paper that we can think of; it stimulates the imagination, inspires creativity and helps us to relax whilst still teaching us all sorts of interesting new things!

Many people feel that the pleasure of holding a book in your hands really cannot be beaten. Smelling the familiar and comforting fragrance of the paper and the physical act of turning page after page is a ritual that the digital age can’t quite replace with its ereaders. Fortunately books continue to crowd the bookshelves and the experience of browsing in a bookshop can still be enjoyed on most of our local high streets. After all, that’s when you can happen upon an unexpected find and discover a new favourite.

If you’re into books in a big way there are some fascinating bookshops around the world which are well worth a visit.

The Libreria Acqua Alta In Venice has been cited by the BBC as the world’s most beautiful bookshop with its stock placed in gondolas, bathtubs and buckets so that they can be relocated whenever the shop floods. But don’t be put off by the rising waters, you can still shop if you’re wearing your wellies and you’re probably likely to encounter some feline friends at the top of the stacks as you browse!

The Honesty Bookshop at Hay Castle, Hay-on-Wye , is another treasure. A tradition since the 1960s, all books are £1 and there is no till – money is simply left in a collecting box and goes towards the restoration of the castle. It is a delightful outdoor space to read, relax and enjoy the buzz of Hay’s town centre and is one of the 30 bookshops where the Festival of Literature is celebrated every year.

And what about travelling a little further east to Librairie Avant-Garde in Nanjing, China? It occupies four thousand square metres previously used as an underground car park and is now considered to be almost a second library for the students of Nanjing University. With huge sections of English books and plenty of reading stations, a few hours can definitely be lost in here.

Look a little closer to home and you may also find something unusual springing up on your street corner. Across the UK local councils and residents are purchasing disused telephone boxes and turning them into micro libraries where residents can exchange books with no need for registrations, rules and fines. What a great way to combat cuts in spending on public and mobile libraries, helping to keep people reading and sharing their favourite books!