There are about 775 million people in this world that are not able to read. (That equals 13 countries with the total population size of South Africa)
Reading has always been a universal past time around the word… and beyond.
When I say beyond, I am referring to NASA’s Space Station that welcomes students to their orbiting laboratory /library for book readings while exploring space.
Reading books have always been crucial to the avid traveller’s repertoire. You could be lounging next to the hotel pool, flying to your next ultimate destination or taking a train ride.
Reading helps us in understanding other countries better and aids us in planning our next local or overseas trip.
In the 7th century B.C a library was established for the “royal contemplation” of the Assyrian ruler Ashurbanipal. This library is considered to be the world’s oldest known library. It is located in Nineveh in modern day Iraq, the site included a trove of some 30,000 cuneiform tablets organised according to subject matter.
The oldest libraries in the world: (source credit: Wikipedia)
I have put together a list of the most amazing libraries and book shops around the world that should be on your next travel bucket list.
1. Tianjin, China – Binhai New Area Library
China’s new innovative library with 1,2 million books is anything but ordinary. The library is five stories high, with a centre consisting of 36, 000 square feet. The futuristic library also features books from floor-to-ceiling in a gorgeous spherical auditorium. Tianjin Binhai New Area Library nicknamed The Eye, is a library in Tianjin, China. I recommend booking tours ahead of time to secure your place.
2. Los Angeles, USA – The Last Bookstore
The Last Book Store is a literary treasure trove in downtown LA. It is California’s largest used and new book and record store, having opened in 2005 in a downtown loft. It has grown since then to 22,000 square feet, a softly lit labyrinthine collection of books and records, with space for literary, musical and theatrical events. Booking visiting time is essential.
3. Seoul, South Korea – Coex Mall Starfield Library
Seoul’s giant library will blow your mind. It is a real sight to behold! Located in the centre of COEX Mall, Starfield Library is an open public space where anyone can freely come to sit down, take a break, and immerse themselves in books along with other bibliophiles. It is amazing to see books on shelves, from floor to ceiling. It is worth a visit just to look at the magnitude of the building.
4. Porto, Portugal – Livraria Lello Bookshop
The Livraria Lello bookstore in Porto is one of the world’s oldest bookstores, frequently ranked as one of the most beautiful bookstores in the world, and a top place to visit in Portugal. Fall in love with this fabulous bookshop and the totally unique spectacle of an amazing interior architecture. This sumptuous bookshop inspired the world renowned Harry Potter Library in Hogwarts. They charge an entrance fee of 3 Euro.
5. Mexico City, Mexico – Biblioteca Vascocelos
A jaw-dropping massive library that turns book-browsing into a geometric journey. Located in the Buenavista rea in the north of Mexico City, the massive Biblioteca Vasconcelos was designed and completed in 2007 after three consecutive years of building. Situated among lush gardens and covering an area of over 38 000 square meters, this temple of knowledge is referred to as a Mega Library both for its size and the undeniable sense of import conveyed by the structure itself.
6. Venice, Italy – Libreria Acqua Alta
Acqua Alta is a unique book shop that is regularly referred to as one of the most beautiful ones in the world. No wonder why. Located in Calle Lunga Santa Maria Formosa, in the district of Castello, the “Libreria Acqua Alta” will stun you for its incredibly creative bookshelves where books are stored and on display on gondolas, canoes and bathtubs. Furthermore, books are even turned into furniture and structural design themselves! Old books that was ruined by high water, or “acqua alta” have not been thrown away but have been used instead to become steps of a book staircase you a delightful view over a canal.
Kindle is a line of Android-powered portable e-book reader devices developed by Amazon that enable users to shop for, download and read electronic versions of books.