It is the holiday season, which means it’s time to visit some bookstores and buy book-gifts for your loved ones. The Inklette team has curated a list of their favorite bookstores across the world. So check these out if you happen to be in any of these cities:
McNally Jackson Books (Nolita)
52 Prince Street
New York, New York (United States of America)
One of my favorite things about McNally is their international fiction section, where they sort different books and/or writers according to the region or country they are from. And unlike other bookstores, the international fiction section is not hidden away in some corner or under some staircase. They also do not use the more hegemonic terminology by labelling them all as “foreign” literature, and make it easier for visitors to see what contemporary fiction currently looks like in different parts of the world. The way they do it almost makes one feel as though it is a love letter to translation and translators as well. The Nolita location is my favorite: it’s cozy with a wonderful cafe, and all their events are free, with cozy seating and give ample opportunities for readers to interact with writers after the event.
Libreria del Viaggiatore
Via del Pellegrino
From what I recently read online, this bookstore is about to close soon. But my friend and I discovered this bookstore in a rather quiet neighbourhood of Rome. It was small and cozy; Italian was a more recent acquisition for me, and I was living in Italy for months. I discovered a book by Henry James on Washington Square, downtown New York, where I go to school and lived my freshman year, in Italian. And then, of course, I saw Pasolini’s book on India– one I never knew existed in a shelf at the corner. The Traveler’s Bookshop in Rome is not just travel guides and cookbooks, but much more. It’s a bookstore to read about place(s) in a different language of place.
The Elliot Bay Book Company
1521 10th Ave
Seattle, Washington (United States of America)
Elliot Bay is an open bookstore with a second, smaller level and a cute little cafe in the back that’s perfect for working (with earphones in – it gets noisy!). My favorite sections are the graphic novels — there are at least three rows near the front of the store — the POC history section on the second floor, and the queer section towards the cafe. It also has an enormous selection of cookbooks and a lovely atmosphere.
Charis Books & More
184 S Candler Street
Decatur, Georgia (United States of America)
Charis is a small feminist-centered bookstore in Decatur, just east of Atlanta. There are always several friendly women there ready to help you find what you’re looking for. They have a small but vibrant queer section, as well as many POC and international authors. I’ve seen books in other languages in several sections of this bookstore, and they highlight books that several book clubs are reading in the front section. They have a larger space in the back of the store where they hold events and author readings.
4418 Park Ave
Wilmington, North Carolina (United States of America)
It’s a bit of a drive for me, but Pomegranate Books is worth it. They have a great poetry section, and they love supporting local authors. Comfy couches and wingback chairs create a place where I feel like I’m right at home. Their coffee shop is also a nice perk; my favorite treat is the coconut milk thai tea. On the second Friday evening of each month, Pom Books hosts an open-mic poetry session. I don’t get to attend the open-mics as much as I like (my husband often trains out of town, and so I have no one to watch my daughter), but the other poets are always kind and welcoming when I do get a chance to join them.
Patiala, Punjab (India)
Occupying a corner of a complex composed of a handful of shops in the busy bazaar of Dharampura, Patiala, the bookshop is a flash poem—ending the moment it began. It is December right now, and I realise how far the store lies from the sunrays. This is in contrast to the place from where Ramesh used to sell second-hand books several years back— the staircase right outside his house a couple of metres away in the same bazaar. I don’t know if Ramesh lives in the same house now, or if the house hasn’t been razed. I can’t tell if the switch from an open-air place of business to a nameless cave signifies progress, economic or otherwise. All I am aware is that I owe my introduction to Mario Vargas Llosa and J.M. Coetzee to this dark recess in town.
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