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What Henry David Thoreau Teaches us About Travel

As we prepare for limited travel and mobility restrictions, know that Thoreau understood something that many of us modern day nomads would do well to recognize: travel is a matter of perspective, not location.

“I have traveled a great deal in Concord,” said Henry Thoreau, a native of…wait for it…Concord, Massachusetts.


In fact, Thoreau traveled far and wide for his day and age, vagabonding to Cape Cod and the vast wilderness of the Maine Woods. However, the great prophet of enlightened self-reliance claimed to have done most of his traveling in his own hometown.

Thoreau understood something that many of us modern day nomads would do well to recognize: travel is a matter of perspective, not location. With curiosity, an open mind and a broad horizon of free time, it’s possible to travel in your own backyard.

I’m writing in El Calafate, a tourist boomtown in Argentine Patagonia. I am, admittedly, a long way from home. But, just the same, at the moment I’m not really traveling.

With curiosity, an open mind and a broad horizon of free time, it’s possible to travel in your own backyard.

Neither, sadly, are many of my fellow tourists here in El Calafate. Every hour, buses segregated by wealth and nationality pull up to the viewpoint overlooking the Perito Moreno glacier.


Tourists disembark – they Ooh and Ahh in their respective languages, snap a few trophy photos, nap in the bus back to the hotel and fly thousands of miles back home on airplanes that belch carbon into the sky.

Meanwhile, the famous glacier shrinks, but that’s OK – I already have my ice-climbing photo.

What Makes A Traveler?

Now, the tourist / traveler distinction has already been beaten into the ground, and I’m not so sure of its validity in the first place. But it IS clear that coming all the way to Patagonia does not make one a traveler.

How did Thoreau manage to travel in Concord when so many of my fellow tourists never leave their comfort zones?

So what DOES make a traveler, I wonder? How did Thoreau manage to travel in Concord when so many of my fellow tourists here in El Calafate never leave their comfort zones?

Well, Thoreau rambled. He walked the country roads and stopped to talk to anyone he met along the way. He followed fox tracks through the snow, and wondered at their meaning. He approached the fields and homesteads of Concord with an open-ended sense of curiosity.

He looked at things, and thought about them, and tried his best to place them within the context of his broad experience. He moved slowly, and he paid attention.

Into The Hills

I remember one time, back when I worked an office job.

It was a Tuesday, and after work I just couldn’t take it any longer: with nothing but the clothes on my back I set off into the hills behind my house, trekked across the coal fields and into the valley beyond. The sun started to go down, but I just kept walking.

I came upon a small stream, which I resolved to follow until it led back to civilization. The night was dark, and there was no moon. I traveled by feel, my mind wide open, my nerves on edge. Once, I stepped on a sleeping turtle – and believe me, that was a shot of adrenaline on par with a virgin view of the Mayan Temples, the Egyptian Pyramids and even Angkor Wat.



The next day at work I couldn’t stop grinning. I had gone on a TRIP. Beyond that, I now knew what was 
Out There, over the hills, and by understanding what was Out There, I had a better appreciation for home and work – the comfortable routines to which I was able to return.Four times I came to dams, and had to scramble around them through thick bamboo grass. When I finally emerged into a village, covered in mud and cobwebs, it was past midnight.

My carbon footprint for the journey? Zero.

A Sense Of Wonder

The truth is, we travel every time we open our minds to a new possibility, every time we open our hearts to a new emotion, every time we take a new track, read a new book or just look at a rock and wonder how it got there.

There is comfort in routine and stability, but when we stop traveling we lose the sense of wonder that equates to joy, that carves new channels in our minds and makes us feel alive. So go. Go on. Go.

Take a notebook and a pen and a camera – see what you find. Then come back, and tell me the story.


ORiginally written by Tim Patterson on

BNT contributing editor Tim Patterson travels with a sleeping bag and pup tent strapped to the back of his folding bicycle. His articles and travel guides have appeared in The San Francisco Chronicle, Get Lost Magazine, Tales Of Asia and Traverse Magazine. Check out his personal site Rucksack Wanderer.


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11 Unique Bookstores Around the World

Imagine your perfect bookstore

Is it cozy and carefully curated? Is it stocked with every text you could ever hope to read? Can you sip from a craft cocktail while you browse? What makes a bookstore ideal is in the eye of the beholder. Luckily, the world is brimming with unique booksellers—from stores that are big enough to take up several city blocks to shops that are literally a New York City apartment, collections housed beneath stained glass ceilings to ones with no ceilings at all—you’re sure to find at least one that fits your personal description of “perfection.”

Biggest: The Book Garden

WHERE: Tehran, Iran

Over the summer, the Book Garden opened its doors to unveil 700,000 square feet of book paradise. The sprawling complex not only features shelves upon shelves of titles to choose from but restaurants, a theater, and research halls. Plus, visitors can pick up one of 1,000 free books to peruse while enjoying the fresh air and sunshine from the Book Garden’s rooftop park.


WHERE: Denver, Colorado

What’s better than combining books and booze? How about books and $2 off beer and wine during happy hour Monday through Friday? With its regular events (Literary Game Night, BookBar Book Club, and the introvert-friendly Silent Reading Happy Hour) BookBar is the perfect place anyone that loves their literary discussion paired with a glass of rosé.

Booziest, Part 2: Kramerbooks & Afterwords

WHERE: Washington D.C.

Kramerbooks & Afterwords has been serving up literature and nourishment in Dupont Circle since the 1970s. It’s the perfect place for a late night spent with a good book and a good drink. The cafe side of this combination bookstore-café is no beer-and-wine-only affair. The bar is full service and offers such literary libations as the Are You There God, It’s Me Margarita or A Cocktail of Two Cities.

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Booziest Bookstore (Eccentric Gilded Age Heiresses Edition): Battery Park Book Exchange & Champagne Bar

WHERE: Asheville, NC

Are you more predisposed toward sipping bubbly than beer? Would you consider yourself winsome yet thoughtful? Are you a fancy 1920s heiress with a penchant for whimsy? Then look no further than the Battery Park Book Exchange & Champagne Bar for all your book and sparkling wine related needs.

Most Romantic: The Ripped Bodice

WHERE: Culver City, California

The Ripped Bodice is the only bookstore in the U.S. that specializes exclusively in the romance genre. Whether your perfect match is a shapeshifting were-dragon or a brooding Regency-era duke you’ll be sure to find something that’ll set your heart aflutter. With its carefully curated selection and playful décor, it’s impossible to step inside this ode to all things literary and romantic without, well, falling in love.

Most Colorful: Saraiva Bookstore

WHERE: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Remember that one rainy Sunday afternoon when you decided to re-order your bookshelf by color? Okay, now imagine that but this time it’s an actual store. The bright and airy Saraiva Bookstore is lined with ROYGBIV-tastic shelves, the books organized by the colors of their spines. The children’s section is also rounded out with a rainbow ramp, making a trip to this Rio de Janeiro bookstore a thoroughly colorful experience.

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Outdoorsiest: Bart’s Books

WHERE: Ojai, California

“Booklover” can tend to be synonymous with “one who cowers indoors far from the reach of the wretched, burning sun.” But Bart’s Books will make a nature-loving believer out of even the staunchest of indoor kids.  This bookstore’s wares are located outside with nothing overhead but sky and palm tree fronds.

Most Exclusive: Brazenhead Books

WHERE: New York City, New York

Everyone loves speakeasy. The mystery. The adventure of finding a hidden spot. The little thrill you get at feeling like you’re in on a secret. But in the case of Brazenhead Books, becoming a speakeasy wasn’t about finding a cutesy way to sell bespoke cocktails it was a method of survival. When the rent for his bookstore’s retail space became too expensive owner Michael Seidenberg moved his operation into his apartment. The by appointment space has become a legend for its Phoenix-like transformation born out of a love for literature and a creative method of skirting zoning laws.

Most Ironic Place to Buy ‘Murder on the Orient Express’: La Caverne aux Livres

WHERE: Auvers-sur-Oise, France

If you were to hear the description of La Caverne aux Livres and say, “That’s not a real place you’ve just told me about. That’s actually the setting for an upcoming Wes Anderson movie!”, you would be well within your rights to do so. But as far as we can tell, this bookstore, which is located in a suburb of Paris that Vincent Van Gogh once called home and occupies a former postal train station as well as several train cars, is a reality.

Most Likely to Have ‘Advanced Potion-Making’ and ‘Hogwarts, A History’ in Stock: Livraria Lello

WHERE: Porto, Portugal

Livraria Lello has gained a certain degree of notoriety for reportedly inspiring frequent visitor and Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling. Whatever the truth is, it’s impossible to look at the stunning structure and not feel transported to a world of magic. The combination of Neo-Gothic and Art Noveau stylings housed under a stained glass skylight is so stunning it might just make the Hogwarts Castle library look a little shabby by comparison.

Best Bookstore for Riding out the Post-Apocalypse: Underground Books

WHERE: Coober Pedy, Australia

The low-key dream of any bookworm is to have the world effectively end in order to have plenty of reading time on their hands. So if the world as we know it’s going to end, why not hunker down in Underground Books & Gallery. This subterranean book bunker is carved out of solid sandstone making it a great option for hiding from the radiations and making your way through your reading list. Plus, Coober Pedy is the opal capital of the world so when you do have to make the trek to Barter Town you’ll have something valuable to trade with.

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Inside the Bodleian at Oxford’s Library

A fascinating behind-the-scenes look at the inner workings of University of Oxford‘s vast main library, the Bodleian, and how its staff are working to make this ancient institution ready for future generations of readers.
libraries #library #librariesofinstagram #bookstagram #books #reading #librarylife #book #read #librariansofinstagram #booklover #librarylove #librarians #librariesareforeveryone #bibliophile #sullivanlibrary #librarian #booklovers #quotes #college #collegelibrary
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9 Unique Bookstores

Thanks Bookstr for this awesome list of 9 unique Bookstores. Support indie authors and shops!

There’s nothing quite like the smell of a fresh, new book or the feel of a watermarked cover on an equally lovable used one. Whether new or old, all books are beautiful in their own, and there’s nothing better than seeing them lined up and ready for devouring in your favorite bookstore. At the risk of sounding cheesy, every bookworm can agree there’s something magical about strolling through aisles of books. You can pick up a book or two (or twenty), find a cozy corner to hide out in, and tuck into the folds of a whole new world. Given our undying love for bookstores, it’s tragic to think that bookstores could be a dying breed. Thankfully, there is hope. These bookshops opt for a truly unique book buying experience. Between cell phone free book bars and shops that provide an echo of another era, these places defy any waning bookshop culture.

Libreria in London, England

Image courtesy of Cool Hunting

London is home to an endless number of amazing bookstores, many of which house more tourists than books. Libreria, the newest noteworthy bookstore in town, opened just shy of a week ago. Inspired by a short story by Jorge Louis Borges, the store is unique in both its composition and culture. Here you won’t find cut and paste categories like fiction and fantasy. You also won’t find lattes or Wi-Fi. Instead, you’ll browse through intriguingly vague sections like “enchantment for the disenchanted” and sip whiskey, pinky up high. This bookshop creates a culture that goes against the grain of an in-and-out, search-find-buy philosophy. Here you can slow down, mull about, and enjoy the free drinks.

Selexyz Dominicanen in Maastricht, Netherlands

Image courtesy of Urban Ghost Media

Looking for a ‘religious’ book experience? Look no further. In the heart of the Netherlands, and the heart of a 700 year old church nonetheless, the Selexyz Dominicanen houses shelves upon shelves of books. The church has been appropriated to serve as a bookstore with newly built staircases and elevators, but much of the architecture is still intact. If it suits you, you’re more than welcome to pray to your favorite authors as you rediscover your faith in bookstores.

Word on Water (The London Bookbarge) in various places around London, England

Image courtesy of Barncott Press

You don’t want to rush through a great book, so why would you rush through the place that houses them? Instead, you should probably get lost at sea with both your book and your bookstore. Word on Water gets us. Floating somewhere in England, this bookstore makes you leave land behind, gussy up those sea legs, and enter the watery, wobbly terrain of a boat. On board you’ll find an array of carefully curated and affordable books, live jazz music, poetry slams, and maybe even a cute little pup named Star. Pretty much all the ambience you could dream of to enjoy a book at sea.

Bart’s Books in Ojai, California, U.S.A.

Image courtesy of Chasingtheturtle

Books and sunshine makes for a happy bookworm. Like many of the previously listed book venues, this store offers a unique landscape for reading and encourages visitors to slow down and enjoy. Serving the California clichés all too well, the bookstore has organic wine and celebrity sightings a plenty. It also boasts the title of “largest outdoor bookstore in the U.S.” So, buy a book (the store goes by the honor system), sip some locally grown grapes, and absorb all the vitamin D you can get before hitting the highway and coasting down the 101 freeway. Mmm, paradise.

Montague Book Mill in Montague, MA, U.S.A.

Image courtesy of The Apron Archives

Keeping it U.S. domestic for the time being, let’s move East to Massachusetts. Here you’ll (hopefully) find the Montague Bookmill. With a tagline like ‘books you don’t need in a place you can’t find,’ what’s not to love? The store offers hidden gems in an even more hidden location, and wary website directions that could just as easily lead you to Dwight Schrute’s Beet Farm. Specializing in Academic books and secluded spaces, this one is definitely a gem worth searching for.

Coney Island Book Store and Barber Shop in Brooklyn, NY, U.S.A.

Image courtesy of Library Thing

Just a little further East we hit the Coney Island Book Store and Barber Shop. Although much of this list incites us to be the best lazy readers we can be, this shop is about efficiency. Haircut and a good read? Two birds, one stone. For whatever reason, this funny kind of symbiosis feels natural to Coney Island. Here you can pick up an affordable read while your barber trims those luscious locks. If you have an exceptionally tangled mess, you can probably even get a few chapters deep before paying!

Libreria Alta Acqua in Venice, Italy

Imge courtesy of Creative Boom

Yes, yes ‘ooh’ and ‘ahh’ away – this shop has been called one of the most beautiful bookstores in the world and were not about to disagree. It’s hard to complain in any bookstore, let alone one that sits on the sun-drenched canals of Venice and carries ruminating smells of the sea, old peeling books, and…pizza? I think that’s Italian pizza we’re smelling. The shop sells books new and old, and across all languages. Just don’t get your hopes up for any kind of Dewey Decimal system here. It’s a messy, glorious free-for-all.

Wild Rumpus in Minneapolis, MN, U.S.A.

Image Courtesy of Chalsey Falk

Although it may not have the foreign charm of Italy, Wild Rumpus does house a life of its own. This widely unknown bookstore is home to bunnies, chinchillas, cats, and a giant scary tarantula named Thomas Jefferson – naturally. The bathroom is secretly a glow in the dark aquarium when you dim the lights, and don’t be surprised if something happens to scurry past you while you’re in there. After all, the store is home to roughly 20 animals. It’s a petting zoo and a bookstore, all wrapped up in one, so make sure to bring your reading glasses along with the anti-histamines.

Pop-up bookstores on the beach, Everywhere!

This one can’t exactly be google mapped, but it is definitely something that should be a staple in every beach town. After all, when you finish your book but you aren’t ready to leave the beach, wouldn’t it be great to have a shelf full of literature to come to the rescue? One of our favorite pop-ups was the Ikea sponsored pop-up on Bondi Beach, Sydney. Since this one-day appearance of books on the beach in Australia, other cities have taken up the same idea, creating beachy bookstores in Abu Dhabi, Tel Aviv, and Siene-Maritime.

(Sydney)Image courtesy of Falv 

(Abu Dhabi) Image courtesy of Roustourisnnews

Want a more permanent store? Head over to Venice Beach’s Small World Books in California for a near-beach experience. It’s about as close to the beach as you can get!