Bookstores, bookstores everywhere

Yet, so many of them are not worth walking into…

There are however, those few gems where you could unfurl your swag and spend the night (no, let’s make that nights). My good friend, Cindy Keong, is currently somewhere over the Tasman, on her way home from San Francisco and a visit to what has to be one of the finest bookstores in the world, City Lights. This place is on my must visit list, as without this store, I may never have picked up a pencil to write. The literature that it has published or inspired has been more than influential. Check out some of Cindy’s photos at her blog. Can’t wait to hear her stories…

And if I was to go on a bookstore tour of the world, these two stores would definitely make my itinerary:


Shakespeare & Company (Paris, France)

Opened by George Whitman in 1951 after a conversation with his friend Lawrence Ferlinghetti (founder of City Lights), Shakespeare and Company has been a hub of creativity and a gathering place for the likes of Henry Miller, Anais Nin, Allen Ginsberg. A visit to their events page will most certainly have you wishing you were just around the corner…


Boekhandel Selexyz Dominicanen (Maastricht)

Described by many as ‘Gods own bookshop’, this place has got to be in the running for the most beautiful bookstore. Located in a radically redesigned 800 year old Dominican Church. They certainly don’t build bookstores like that over here…

I would also add Collected Works  to my must see list for anyone in the world, as if it’s poetry you want, then this place is as good as it gets! And if you want a bookstore owner who knows his stuff… then Kris Hemensley is your man. I always make my yearly pilgrimage…

And as I am off to Sydney, I must also give Gleebooks a mention. This is one of the many great indedependent bookstores in this country and again, it has an extensive poetry collection, so I always walk out the door a few dollars lighter.

Speaking of Sydney… I must be off to pack.



Filed under discussions

12 responses to “Bookstores, bookstores everywhere

  1. Hi Graham,

    I loved City Lights and between what I bought there and across the road at the Beat Museum, I had to post a whole box home… the postage cost almost as much as the books, but it was worth it.

    I hadn’t heard of Gleebooks, so I will try to get there when I am in Sydney later on this month. Have a great time on your travels!

  2. I have rarely found a book store that I didn’t like or leave with without too many books for one person to carry…but you have hit a couple of my favorites City Lights and Shakespeare and Company …ah but I would add to the list Chaucers in Santa Barabara California…another hidden treasure.

  3. Must add The Strand in NYC. It’s been over 25 years since I last shuffled around their aisles for hours, touching more than I purchased (though there was always a title or two I couldn’t resist), but it’s still independent, and my spies in the city tell me it’s still incredible, inconic and beautiful.

  4. yep, City Lights and Beat Museum are monastaries for the bright-eyed

  5. I usually prefer the small dense stores with a very old or almost too young person behind the counter, who knows all the book by heart, but to think i have spent almost one year in Holland and never been to that one is a blasphemy.

  6. screamish

    A friend of mine stayed a couple of months at Shakespeare’s, in paris, years ago…from what I gather the old guy had him basically sleeping on piles of books, and my friend would wake up in the morning to the sound of the first customers coming in…he’d help around the shop for a few hours then wander through the streets with his sketchbook… Oh, to be 25 again….to be able to live in a bookshop in Paris for pocket money….sigh….

  7. Pingback: Bookstores, bookstores everywhere | Currajah

  8. Am a sucker for a decent bookstore…and I haven’t been to Collected Works for AGES…time to refamiliarise myself methinks!

  9. Ashley

    Speaking of books, Mr. Nunn, please tell me how to purchase a copy of Ocean Hearted and Ruined Man. Whilst googling something else, I stumbled across some excerpts, and am eager to read whole poems, not just snippets.

    I live in the U.S. but visited Brisbane last July–gorgeous city. The only photos I took were of sunsets and sunrises.

    Thank you for any information.

  10. found yr site by way of utopianfragments…. there is nothing finer than a bookstore with wings…. far from the maddening crowd, it is a treat to visit a bookstore where one can channel time to stretch… as a young girl there was a perfect bookstore called the either or bookstore located in hermosa beach, ca… not sure if it’s still there.. the next time im out travelin will be sure to stop by some of those wonderful stores… here in spokane, was there is a pleasant bookstore where one can lose the day, aunties bookstore… but yet i am drawn to the out of the way bookstores hardly noticeable with dust and books piled to the sky…

    • gnunn

      I also love the outta the way bookstore with books piled to the ceiling and enough dust to coat a small island… my favourite of these is Goulds Book Arcade in Sydney, Australia. Their poetry section is so vast you need to take a drinks break to finish it! Thanks for dropping by ms pie,

  11. Hi Graham,

    thank you for nudging my own memory of Shakespeare and Company, a gorgeous bookshop with an ambience like no other. Your post inspired me to write about it and post a couple of photos (including one of me with owner George Whiteman) here:

    Now that I’ve discovered your excellent blog (via Sara Moss), I look forward to reading more.

    Thanks and regards,

    Jen xo

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s