Image courtesy of www.canadianart.ca
Montreal, Canada: Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Bookstore
Visiting Librairie D + Q in Montreal's Mile End neighbourhood is like walking into a tiny, less edible (but equally magical) version of Willy Wonka's chocolate factory. It's hard to know where to look first when everything is so enticing. Librairie D + Q is a perfect place to discover something you always thought looked interesting, but never really ventured into: from local zines to French comics to art books to a beautiful print of that classic novel you've always been meaning to read, everything is here, waiting patiently to be picked up and tucked under an arm. This is a place where broadening one's horizons is irresistible. And for those who are already deep into an artistic, creative scene, you will find that obscure magazine here.
Dussmann is a book paradise for Berliners, both German- and English-speaking. Literally translated, it is a department store for culture, and its event programme includes everything from a Lang Lang concert to a talk with Anton Corbijn. Tourists gather at the front window to collect books on Berlin; parents push strollers toward a rainbow of children's books and a play corner; globetrotters lounge in sofas on the third floor, thumbing through mounds of travel guides. It is difficult to not find a book here. For the expats, a two-storey, tartaned, standalone shop at the back offers an impressive array of English books. There is also a cafe facing a vertical garden for all those who spend so many hours lingering over books that they can no longer ignore their hunger.
There are several branches of the 101-year-old publishing house El Ateneo, but the store located in the Grand Splendid, an old renovated theatre, is by far the most breathtaking. Bibilophiles who lack a strong grasp of Spanish will easily find it in their hearts to overlook the relatively sparse selection of English books and instead simply marvel in their surroundings: swooping lines, stately columns, ceiling frescos, crimson curtains and elegant lighting provide a magnificent home for the shelves and shelves of books that have replaced what was surely once a vision of velvet seats. Besides, there can be no better way to brush up on one's Spanish than snuggled into a theatre box with a dictionary and a copy of Jorge Luis Borges's Ficciones.