Walking into the Pois, Café is like walking into someone’s living room. Crushed velvet sofas and mismatched chairs of wood and rattan surround bright red and turquoise vintage steamer trunks serving as coffee tables. The walls are lined with shelves of books that you are free to read by the light of a 1970s-style lamp complete with a fringed shade. The food is as fabulous as the décor, and some plates really do come with a cherry tomato garnish with a cocktail umbrella!
Sleek and modern in design, the Corso Como in Milan offers a gorgeous setting in which to enjoy its grand selection of new and classic books on art, architecture, literature, design, and fashion, as well as its immense world music collection. What makes this bookstore so spectacular is that it also contains an art gallery, a terrace showcasing rotating exhibitions by local artists, a garden café, and even three hotel rooms reflecting styles from Mid Century Modern to the most cutting edge of current designers. Don’t miss the gallery shop; it doubles as a bazaar offering unique and eclectic items from around the world. It’s pricey, but well worth a cappuccino and an afternoon of browsing.
Combining a bar, a bookstore, and an exhibition space, the cozy, old-world styled La Belle Hortense offers a unique Parisian experience. Gather around the classic zinc bar for a drink or wander through two high-ceilinged rooms that have changed little since the days of Balzac and Zola. Bookshelves line the walls and are stacked high with centuries of French literature, as well as books about art, history, and culture. Don’t miss the lounge in the back, where exhibitions by local artists in a variety of media rotate out regularly. This literary bar is located in the fashionable Le Marais district, a labyrinth of medieval cobblestoned alleys filled with art galleries, restaurants, & design shops. Grab a glass of red and spend the afternoon perusing…
84, Charing Cross Road. I fell in love with it the first time I read it. That was in 1986, and I’ve probably read it 50 times since. Short but powerful, this book tells the story not of two people who love each other but rather of two people who share a love for books. From the first time you experience Helene’s sharp American wit in response to Frank’s British formality, you’ll be hooked. I like to indulge myself and think that there’s a little bit of her in me. This book contributed greatly to my wanderlust, and the first time I went to London, I went straight to 84 Charing Cross Road. The book shop is no longer there, but its ghosts live in the second-hand book shops that still dot the road.