Book Towns: Forty Five Paradises of the Printed Word

Book Towns: Forty Five Paradises of the Printed Word

The so-called “Book Towns” of the world are dedicated havens of literature, and the ultimate dream of book lovers everywhere. Book Towns takes readers on a richly illustrated tour of the 40 semi-officially recognized literary towns around the world and outlines the history and development of each community, and offers practical travel advice. Many Book Towns have emerged i...

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Title:Book Towns: Forty Five Paradises of the Printed Word
Author:Alex Johnson
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Book Towns: Forty Five Paradises of the Printed Word Reviews

  • Kelly

    Book Towns does exactly what it says on the cover… it takes you around the world to visit various book towns giving each one around 4 pages in the book which contains a description of the towns themselves along with interesting titbits of information and stunning photography.

    This is a true ‘coffee table’ book for me. Literally a fascinating non-fiction book that can be left on the coffee table and picked up and perused for a few minutes with a cuppa each time. You don’t lose your place or feel

    Book Towns does exactly what it says on the cover… it takes you around the world to visit various book towns giving each one around 4 pages in the book which contains a description of the towns themselves along with interesting titbits of information and stunning photography.

    This is a true ‘coffee table’ book for me. Literally a fascinating non-fiction book that can be left on the coffee table and picked up and perused for a few minutes with a cuppa each time. You don’t lose your place or feel overwhelmed with information and it’s an absolute joy to read. A beautifully presented book, it contains information on 45 book towns around the world from Australia to France to South Africa to France again (there’s a lot of book towns in France) and of course I skipped right to Wigtown in Scotland before going back to start at the beginning.

    Each of the entries is interesting to read and it really comes across that the author has thoroughly researched each of them with information on how or why the town became a book town, what bookshops are in it including a little bit of background on some of them and also including other ‘book’ related businesses that have taken root in the town. It also includes information on book festivals that are either held in the town or nearby and the photography that accompanies each of the entries is stunning. This is book porn at its best! I loved looking at all the different arrangements in the towns and the amazing spaces that books are being sold from and each entry also includes a little ‘more information’ box that often gives the website address for the town or festival and opening hours in some cases.

    A beautifully bound and presented book that made me want to pack the family into a camper van to go and tour all the book towns of the world… I mean what could be better?!

  • Laura

    There are two things that I love to do: travel and read books. And whenever I do travel I always keep an eye out for bookshops, book stands, and libraries. I love coming home with a book I bought on my travels. So when I came across this book with the topic of Book Towns, I was instantly intrigued. What is a book town?

    In Book Town: Forty-Five Paradises of the Printed Word, the author describes a book town as "simply a small town, usually rural and scenic, full of bookshops and book-related indus

    There are two things that I love to do: travel and read books. And whenever I do travel I always keep an eye out for bookshops, book stands, and libraries. I love coming home with a book I bought on my travels. So when I came across this book with the topic of Book Towns, I was instantly intrigued. What is a book town?

    In Book Town: Forty-Five Paradises of the Printed Word, the author describes a book town as "simply a small town, usually rural and scenic, full of bookshops and book-related industries." The movement began when towns wanted to help their economy by focusing on sustainable tourism so that communities can thrive and the traditional book kept alive. Many of these villages hold literary festivals and other creative events that appeal to artists and tourists.

    Alex Johnson has compiled together the very first guide of 45 book towns from nearly 30 countries, giving us a brief history of the town, popular events that take place there and photos of its quaint landmarks. Each section ends with a small information box containing pertinent website links and how to best get to the town by car, train, or bus.

    I loved reading about these towns, many of which are in Europe. Each is unique in its own way. It stirred the travel bug in me, making me want to hop on a plane to visit and stroll through their streets, these towns that display their love of books in such creative ways.

    The author dedicates about 4 pages per town, with lots of photos and a short text that packs a punch of interesting info. One learns not only interesting historical tidbits but also fun information about the towns and its inhabitants. Some of these towns offer stunning scenery, making them the perfect place to buy and read a book. Truly paradisaical!

    What is also interesting is that many of the bookshops are also specialty bookshops, selling books on local history, religious books, banned books, old books or books that may not be found elsewhere.

    Book Towns is a great coffee table book and ideal to gift to the book lover who loves to travel. It is a book that is a testament to the love that people have of the printed written word, and to the ingenious ideas communities come up with, not only to survive, but in some cases to thrive through local artistry and craftsmanship. The love of books is universal as seen through the colorful pages of this book. It is heartwarming to read about the respect books are given in these towns.

    The next time I travel, I will make it a point to take photos of the bookshops I visit. If you find yourself in a book town, stop and visit their bookshops and buy a book or two. You will be supporting the town, the printed word and your own love of reading.

    Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book. I chose to read it and write my honest review.

  • Ova Incekaraoglu

    Absolutely loved this book. I was concerned that the towns suggested would only be in one continent but they aren't. Although looks like France has most book towns!

    Lovely addition to the library if you're a book lover and traveler. I'll definitely try and visit this book towns - I wish I knew a few of them - Swede and Norwegian ones- as I recently wandered quite near by but didn't have a clue they were there!

    Highly recommended. Also photos are amazing.

    Thanks to NetGalley and Quarto Publishing fo

    Absolutely loved this book. I was concerned that the towns suggested would only be in one continent but they aren't. Although looks like France has most book towns!

    Lovely addition to the library if you're a book lover and traveler. I'll definitely try and visit this book towns - I wish I knew a few of them - Swede and Norwegian ones- as I recently wandered quite near by but didn't have a clue they were there!

    Highly recommended. Also photos are amazing.

    Thanks to NetGalley and Quarto Publishing for a copy in exchange with an honest review.

  • ☆Dani☆ ☆Touch My Spine Book Reviews☆

    This was a fantastic, beautiful and informative book that I would recommend to all book lovers! I always wanted to travel one day to all the beautiful places that revolve around literature. It's amazing all the unique and beautiful places. I can't wait to the day I can travel to these places like Hay-On-Wye but for now it was fantastic to travel to all these beautiful bibliophile centered places via this book!

  • Laura

    I am the kind of person who goes to Portland to spend time at Powell's City of Books. I am the kind of person that when I ran out of room in my luggage, when I was in Australia, shipped as many of the books home, as I could. I'm the kind of person that, when I can, stuffs my suitcases full of books, no matter what city I visit.

    So, when I saw this book about book towns, town that are gearted to lovers of books like me, I though it would be fun to read, and so it was. I knew about Hay on Wye, the

    I am the kind of person who goes to Portland to spend time at Powell's City of Books. I am the kind of person that when I ran out of room in my luggage, when I was in Australia, shipped as many of the books home, as I could. I'm the kind of person that, when I can, stuffs my suitcases full of books, no matter what city I visit.

    So, when I saw this book about book towns, town that are gearted to lovers of books like me, I though it would be fun to read, and so it was. I knew about Hay on Wye, the city that decided to build its legacy on books, and i have been meaning to visit it for years. The cool thing is that according to this book, there are now 44 more areas across the globe, that are trying to recreate what Hay on Wye has done.

    From South Africa to Canada, from New York to Featherson New Zealand, book towns have appeared all over. The book covers each one with a nice photo spread, and a story of the book stores that can be found there, as well as information about book store related festivals.

    The only one I found a little stretched was the one about the "Gold Cities" in the Gold country of California, which is stretched across Nevada City and Grass Valley. The one is only sort of in existence, now and it seems strange, for a travel book, to be talking about what was, rather than what is.

    Still, this would be a good starting point for finding cities in the area you want to travel to, that just happen to have book festivals.

    Thanks to Netgalley for making this book available for an honest review.

  • Lesa

    Alex Johnson's charming book actually has a subtitle. The book is Book Towns: Forty-Five Paradises of the Printed Word. His book, with its colorful photos, is actually a travelogue for those of us who probably won't get to Australia or France or Spain, or a dozen other countries to visit the book towns. But armchair travelers who appreciate bookstores will enjoy the book.

    The book towns Johnson covers are not towns devoted only to bookstores. Most of them are "A small town usually rural and sceni

    Alex Johnson's charming book actually has a subtitle. The book is Book Towns: Forty-Five Paradises of the Printed Word. His book, with its colorful photos, is actually a travelogue for those of us who probably won't get to Australia or France or Spain, or a dozen other countries to visit the book towns. But armchair travelers who appreciate bookstores will enjoy the book.

    The book towns Johnson covers are not towns devoted only to bookstores. Most of them are "A small town usually rural and scenic, full of bookshops and book-related industries." Those industries include the booksellers, but also calligraphers, bookbinders, curators, publishers and architects. They may have been developed to save the printed book, but also to keep communities alive, communities that no longer had visitors or businesses.

    Hay-on-Wye is covered, naturally. Book towns as we know them originated there, in Wales, in the 1960s. That's the book town that has become famous, with a festival, and a number of bookstores and related shops. But, many of the towns now have literary festivals of some sort. Johnson uses just four or five pages to show photos and tell the history of towns in Switzerland, France, Spain, Italy, Sweden, Australia, Germany, the United States, South Korea, and other countries. Lilleputhammer in Norway is a children's book town where all the houses are built at quarter size, appearing as they did in the 1930s.

    Interested in traveling to any of the towns? Johnson also provides information about each town. He includes websites and transportation information. It would be smart to check the websites before heading out. Some of the towns are no longer as active as they once were, while others are flourishing.

    If you love bookstores and libraries, and appreciate people who value the printed word, you might want to pick up a copy of Book Towns. Alex Johnson's stories and the photos will make you want to pack up and head to the nearest book town.

  • Kirsty

    Gorgeous little book about book towns around the world (although they’re mostly in western Europe). I wish there had been more photos, particularly of the insides of the bookshops - what reader doesn’t love seeing bookshop interiors? It’s still very sweet though, and now I want to visit every place mentioned in the book. A great gift for a bookish friend.

  • Jen

    Book Town ENVY. The pictures in this book are GORGEOUS and I want to go to every single place mentioned in this book! Heck, I want to LIVE in them all! This book will make you DROOL with how some people, and even countries, live re: book love.

    The only sad thing is that there were quite a few book towns that have gotten smaller and some that have even folded up. Which leads me to why this is a 4 and not a five star book. This book is already dated I am sure. If one were to read this book more th

    Book Town ENVY. The pictures in this book are GORGEOUS and I want to go to every single place mentioned in this book! Heck, I want to LIVE in them all! This book will make you DROOL with how some people, and even countries, live re: book love.

    The only sad thing is that there were quite a few book towns that have gotten smaller and some that have even folded up. Which leads me to why this is a 4 and not a five star book. This book is already dated I am sure. If one were to read this book more than a year after it came out, I would hazard a guess that some of the places mentioned would have changed. Maybe for the better I would hope, though depressingly probably the other way.

    I would highly recommend this book if you 1) love books, 2) love to travel (in reality or via "armchair travel" via a book) and 3) find beauty in the impermanence of things. This book is more sweet than bitter, so it's not overly sad, but it is there. I think most users of any book site will love this book and it would make an EXCELLENT gift. I would personally recommend the "real" book rather than eBook format, if only because of the pictures. They are GORGEOUS, but I couldn't figure out how to make them bigger without making the whole thing wonky. That's just me being tech-challenged, but if pressed, I will always say the real book is better. Usually. ; ) So a solid 4 stars!

    My thanks to NetGalley and Quarto Publishing Group - Frances Lincoln for the invitation and eARC copy of this book to read and review.

  • Steffi

    Liebevoll gestaltetes, fotoreiches Buch, das Lust macht, die inzwischen zahlreichen Bücherstädte in der Welt zu besuchen. Ich wusste von Hay-on-Wye als berühmtester book town und persönlich kenne ich die Bücherstadt Wünsdorf-Waldstadt, weil sie von Berlin aus leicht zu erreichen ist.

    Nun weiß ich nicht nur von weiteren book towns in Europa, sondern auch in Australien, USA, Süd Korea und Südafrika. Aufgrund der Erreichbarkeit werden aber wohl das nordrhein-westfälische Langenberg oder das nieders

    Liebevoll gestaltetes, fotoreiches Buch, das Lust macht, die inzwischen zahlreichen Bücherstädte in der Welt zu besuchen. Ich wusste von Hay-on-Wye als berühmtester book town und persönlich kenne ich die Bücherstadt Wünsdorf-Waldstadt, weil sie von Berlin aus leicht zu erreichen ist.

    Nun weiß ich nicht nur von weiteren book towns in Europa, sondern auch in Australien, USA, Süd Korea und Südafrika. Aufgrund der Erreichbarkeit werden aber wohl das nordrhein-westfälische Langenberg oder das niedersächsische Katlenburg zu meinen nächsten Zielen gehören.

    Ein Buch, das ich nicht als Muß bezeichnen würde, außer für Menschen, die Bildbände über Bibliotheken und Buchhandlungen lieben (wie ich) und dies als Ergänzung zu selbigen nicht entbehren möchten.

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