I was in a discussion the other day with my friends about a new brick and mortar Amazon bookstore that’s coming to town. Needless to say, it got us all to wondering…um, why? This is a company that’s pretty much synonymous with making actual book stores a thing of the past, yet now they’re opening up right next door to what used to be a Barnes & Noble that went out of business. Basically the definition of irony.
However, while my friends and I contemplated the reasoning behind Amazon opening a physical location, it also got us to talking about our former bookstore loving glory. When I was little, going to the local bookstore was my favorite pastime. I would spend hours roaming the shelves, looking in the bargain bins, and discovering new titles that would whisk me away from small town Ohio.
While I do still enjoy browsing through bookstores, I’m sad to admit that the joy isn’t exactly the same as it used to be. Nowadays I often find myself overwhelmed by such a wide array of books, constantly asking myself if the book I’m holding is actually a later book in a series and I just don’t know it, or what the user review rating might be. 9 times out of 10, I find myself pulling out my phone, and checking Goodreads or Amazon when I’m in an actual bookstore. I know…it’s positively shameful.
That being said, I will say there is one bookstore that, to this day, remains my ultimate favorite. It helps me hearken back to a time when I was like a kid in a candy store, only I’m surrounded by the written word. I can still spend hours upon hours browsing through this particular bookstore whenever I have the great opportunity to be in the city where it’s located, and that would be Librairie Avant-Garde in Nanjing, China.
Hands down, this is my favorite bookstore I’ve ever been to in my entire life. It’s actually a converted parking garage, which is cool enough in and of itself. But it also has thousands of volumes, from Western and Chinese classics that you can find in both English and Mandarin, to art books, law, history, economics, pretty much anything your heart could desire.
I first discovered it when I was studying in Nanjing for graduate school, and whenever I get back to China I always try and revisit one of my favorite places on Earth. It’s quietly serene and 100% unique. The entrance is hard to miss, again, seeing as the darn thing is basically underground. However, if you ever get the chance, I highly recommend you pop in for a visit.
So that got me to thinking, what are some of your favorite bookstores? Maybe it’s one you’ve been going to since you were little. Maybe it’s a new beauty that you’ve recently discovered. Or maybe it’s a place that’s on your bucket list to one day explore. Feel free to share in the comment section below!