04 January 2017

Written by Kirsty Hanson
for Daily Focal

Bookstores are a magical thing. It's like all of the worlds come together and transport you into a different universe. Every single one of us book lovers hold a specific book store close to our hearts and this list in my top ten bookstores that I've been to over the years.

I'm just going to put this one here because this is my local Waterstone's and I hate to think of the amount of time (and money!) that I've spent in here. All they need in that store is a café, and I would happily spend all day in there. The staff are so friendly and I slowly started to become friends with them when I began attending the monthly book club that they hold there!

I went to Paris a few years ago and one of the things that my family always do when we go to a new country is to find the bookstores. We have to. If I don't go to a bookstore, I get sad. I didn't save up all of my money for nothing, y'know? I need to spend it. Preferably on books. When I went to the Shakespeare & Co. independent bookstore, I was amazed at how many books they managed to fit in such a small space. That's not to say that the bookstore was teeny tiny, because it wasn't. It was just the right size to browse books in a cozy environmemt. It also had ladders. Any bookstore that has ladders is a winner in my eyes. I think it's just because I like to imagine I'm Belle from Beauty and the Beast…

The Netherlands is like my second home. I have family who live in Holland and every time I go there, I always end up discovering something new and magical. When I went in the summer, we found a 13th century Dominican church that had been renovated into a bookstore - and oh my life… It was gorgeous. This bookstore has three floors and an eclectic range of books and - luckily for me - there are quite a few shelves of English books. It's contrast of modern furniture contrasts beautifully with the 13th century architecture of the church. It also has a coffee shop, which is always an added bonus for people who want to curl up with their newly bought book and a cup of tea!

What would a list of the top 10 bookstores be without the largest bookstore in Europe? Yes, that's right. The Waterstones in Picadilly is the LARGEST BOOKSTORE IN EUROPE. As soon as I walked in, I knew I was in paradise. There are six floors in this building and the floors are humungous. The Picadilly store boasts over eight miles of bookshelves and caters each and every literature interest - and of course, there's a coffee shop. What I loved about this store was yes, it was a big bookstore chain. But all throughout the store, there were sofas, tables and chairs, where you could just sit down and read. Either that or the chairs were used for non-book lovers who just need to rest whilst their book-obsessed sisters are taking forever *yes, this is exactly what my little sister did. She just sat down and waited for me*

This particular Foyles in London is the biggest store to ever grace the UK in a century. It may not be the biggest bookstore in Europe but it certainly is massive. What I loved about this store is that they had U.S imports of some of the books which meant U.S COVERS - WHICH MEANT I SPENT A LOT OF MONEY! The store was also spacious so it didn't feel like all the shelves were cramped together; you could just float from one shelf to the other and spend all day in there (which I would happily do).

This little bookstore is amidst the chaos that is Camden Town in London. If you go to the main food market where you can find food from nearly every culture, just at the back of that food market is Black Gull books. It's such a little store so it can be hard to miss it if you don't know where it is, but it's perfect for that quick book search (if there is such a thing!) They keep their bestseller books outside (childrens, young adult, fantasy and romance) and then inside is fiction, historical fiction, classics, politics, books about different countries, film, autobiographies… And everything is second hand so you can books in brilliant condition for a low price! If you're going to go to Camden, get some yummy food from the market and head on over to the Black Gull Books bookstore.

I know that this is the third Waterstones that I've put on this list, but I am only putting this one so high on here because it has a fantastic café. If I have a long break whilst I'm at university, I head down the road to the Waterstones, take the stairs to the first floor, sit down and have a nice cup of tea whilst I'm reading my book. It's such a calming atmosphere in there and the décor is simple. The windows of the café look out onto the high street of Birmingham and if you love people watching and reading, then this is the perfect place for you to go for some downtime. If you don't live near Birmingham then it's a brilliant city to visit anyway!

When I was fourteen years old, my family and I took a trip to the U.S and one of out destinations was San Francisco. It's such a culturally place and my Dad took us on an Alfred Hitchcock: Vertigo tour which was brilliant. Whilst we were in San Francisco, we went into the City Lights bookstore which is an independent bookstore that sells every type of genre tha you can think of but it specialises in classic literature, politics, historical fiction and the arts. Now, don't be put off by those four genres! They also do children's and young adults, fiction, gender studies, film, crime, fantasy… The list goes on and on. Because I went seven years ago, I have nearly forgotten what it was like - apart from the fact that it was superb. Maybe another trip is in order?

This German film museum is based in the Potsdamer Platz in Berlin. If you're a film nerd like me, then it's definitely worth checking out this museum if you ever get the chance to go to Berlin. However, it was the bookshop on the ground floor of the museum that caught my eye. It's full of amazing film books in that are in English and German, there's loads of film and television memorabilia and then there's also a English fiction section where they stock crime, thriller, young adult and romance novels. I bought a couple of books there and my Dad ended up getting quite a bit of the memorabilia that was there. It was such an amazing museum and it had an even better bookshop!

Excuse me whilst I try not to cry as I'm writing this. St. George's bookshop is the best bookstore that I have ever been to. I don't know what it is, there's just something about the store that gives off the vibe of being the perfect book-lover location. They are a new and second-hand English bookstore and they have a wide range of genres available including, crime, thriller, children's, young adult and historical. They also have very big ladders which made me very happy. I bought eleven books from the store and I wanted to go back and buy eleven more but we didn't have anymore time - and I didn't have anymore money. I know it's in Berlin, which means travelling and more money, but out of all the bookstores on this list, this is the one that I recommend the most to go to. It's just amazing. It's heaven.

We'd love to know...
Any of these bookstore catch your eye?
Do you have any bookstores that you've been to that you thought was amazing?
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