City Lights in San Francisco, Powell’s in Portland, and The Last Bookstore in Los Angeles are my favorite bookstores. I am sure each of you have one as well. I hate the demise of bookstores, and still try to buy as many as I can through Barnes and Noble, as well as local stores wherever I might visit.
Check out this post on AFAR – https://www.afar.com/magazine/the-best-independent-bookstores-in-california?utm_medium=email&utm_source=sshare
Speaking of books: One of the only countries to come out unscathed by the digital era’s death blow to the printed word, Portugal is a country that still loves books. In these atmospheric, utterly charming bookshops and libraries, you can spend an hour–or two or three–remembering that the power of the written word is made all the more exquisite by the tactical experience of a book. Spending time with Portugal’s rich literary history can help you steal some insights into Portuguese culture: its seafaring past, its Jewish history, its classic romantic tragedies, and its affinity for political subversion. These spots, made for bookworms, also boast some of the country’s most stunning views, its best local drinks, and–like any good book–tons of potential for adventure.
I believe our bookstores characterize our people and culture about as well as any other indicator. Some will tell you our society is defined by its educational institutions, yet still others say it is our churches, bars, cultural venues, and recreational facilities.
So, what is it about books? Some people prefer electronic readers. Some prefer podcasts. I still prefer hard copy.
I carry at least two or three books when I travel: a light reading, John Grisham type of book, a heavier, more thoughtful book like Dostoyevsky or Ishiguro, and a travel guide or two. I tend not to rely on electronics, since it eats up my battery. I need the GPS when things get somewhat confused, like Uncle Leo.
Informal trading of books is quite common on my trips as well. I can trade with the hotel, a travel friend, or a book exchange. The only danger is that I might end up with a book that I have read before!! No harm, no foul!
In some third world countries, finding a book in English is a HUGE problem. But the best option is to find a used bookstore, invariably beset with many old “dime” novels in English. You might find treasures like Saroyan or Hemingway, or “dime novels” like Danielle Steele or Clive Cussler.
Whatever you do, just be prepared. Reading really helps to pass the time, and who knows? You might learn something, like a new word, or an old word, used differently.
Books tend also to encourage conversation with strangers. Quite often, a stranger inquires about the book I am reading. Or, I might do the same. Heck, that is how I met a “fat” guy named Bob on a flight to DC. Bob turned out to be the actor, Robert Duvall.
Never under estimate the power of the written word!