There's nothing like taking an afternoon and spending it in your favorite bookstore. Looking at all the books that could soon be yours, or even just looking around without buying anything. (But more often than not, you leave with something!) You can have a chat with your friendly neighborhood bookstore owner, or find something hidden on the shelves you never would've picked up otherwise.
There are some pretty great local and independent bookstores already — just look at places like Powell's and The Strand, for instance. But we've seen and read about some truly amazing ones. I don't know about you, but I can't read or watch Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets without wishing for a Flourish and Blott's of my own to shop in — even if it's just to look! Same goes for You've Got Mail — I know it's about a small neighborhood bookstore being crushed by a huge competitor, but I root for Meg Ryan every time anyway, despite knowing the ending.
There's just something about these fictional bookstores that never fails to make me wish I could visit them myself. The sheer size of them, the book-loving owners, the stories they hold within them — everything, really. Here are 10 of the best fictional shops I wish I could get lost in for an afternoon — or maybe a little longer.
The Shop Around the Corner from You've Got Mail
A children's bookstore with every Meg Ryan at the helm, Tom Hanks as a (albeit fraudulent) customer, and a story time corner complete with a princess hat to go with the books? Please exist in real life. I could probably keep it in business single-handedly.
Embryo Concepts from Funny Face
This movie is significantly underrated. It starts out in this amazing old bookstore, Embryo Concepts (with a name like that, who could resist going in and taking a peek around?) and then moves on to a fashion magazine and then Paris. What's not to love? Audrey Hepburn's singing in the bookstore is a dream.
Women & Women First from Portlandia
The feminist indie bookstore we need in our lives, Women & Women First is run by the two quirky stars of Portlandia, and makes us eager to find and visit our own (sadly, less funny) feminist bookstore ASAP.
Flourish & Blott's from the Harry Potter Series
I can't think of a single fictional bookstore that more people would shop in if it existed in real life. It's magical, it has tons of books you surely can't get anywhere else, and you're bound to run into at least one of Harry's Hogwarts friends.
Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore from Mr. Penumbra's 24-House Bookstore by Robin Sloan
First of all, it's open 24 hours. As someone who has had more than her share of insomnia-ridden nights, browsing a bookstore at 3 a.m. would be perfect. And, you're sure to meet some interesting characters in there, both working and shopping.
Parnassus on Wheels from Parnassus on Wheels by Christopher Morley
"When you sell a man a book, you don't sell him just twelve ounces of paper and ink and glue — you sell him a whole new life." Roger Mifflin was spot on with this observation, and I know I'm not alone in wishing I could buy some books from someone as passionate about book as he was! Plus, it's on wheels, and I have a thing for traveling books.
The Village Bookstore from Beauty and the Beast
Is there a book-loving child around who didn't long to have not just a palace with a library, but a small-town bookstore like Belle's? I think not! If this existed in real life, it would be guaranteed to have a bookstore cat, and the owner would preferably look like the human version of the owner from the movie. That's possible, right?
Geiger's Bookstore from The Big Sleep
Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, and a bookstore. Could there be a better movie premise? I don't think so. Add in the 1940s black and white vibes and we're really talking. This would be the most hipster of all indie bookstores, I'm sure. Can I also get a pair of Lauren Bacall's glasses while we're making fictional things a reality?
Monsieur Labisse's Bookstore from Hugo
I mean, just look at the size of this place! I would get lost for hours. Seriously, someone would have to come in after me. The world would be a better place with a bookstore like this in it.
Island Books from The Storied Life of AJ Fikry
Some magical things happened in Island Books. I mean, A.J. found a daughter in there, and she completely changed his life, in the best way possible! A.J. and Maya would be the best bookstore owners to befriend and buy books from, and just think of all the memorable people you'd meet as you browsed!
Images: Warner Bros. Studios (3); Paramount Pictures (2); Walt Disney Pictures