By Deb A.Drawn and Quarterly
Image courtesy of www.canadianart.ca
If you find that you, like the average American adult of 2009, spend over eight hours a day looking at some sort of screen, it may be time for you to close your laptop, drop your smartphone into a deep pocket, fold your eBook reader into its case, and get to a bookstore. Chances are there's a good one near you. There are certainly some good ones near us.
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's English Bookshop
Berlin, Germany: Dussmann das KulturKaufhaus
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.
El Ateneo Grand Splendid
Buenos Aires, Argentina: El Ateneo Grand Splendid
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.
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