I’m just a girl standing in front of the internet telling you how much I love bookstores — whether they be fictional or real, tiny or expansive, broad or speciality shops, we love an enticing bookshop. In honor of Notting Hill’s 20th anniversary, and its iconic Travel Book Company, we’re celebrating some of the most memorable bookstores ever to appear onscreen. Click through to see 15 bookshops we wish we could stay in forever.
Travel Books Company, Notting Hill
Be still our hearts — is there anything more romantic than love that blooms in a bookshop? Notting Hill (1999) set up Hugh Grant as charmingly befuddled bookstore owner William Thacker, who finds his life upended when a movie store comes into his shop. The bookstore, based on a real store on Portobello Road in London, is the site of much of the film’s action, including the iconic line, “I’m just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her.”
The Shop Around the Corner, You've Got Mail
There is possibly no place in the world we’d rather visit than Kathleen Kelly’s (Meg Ryan) Shop Around the Corner, a joyous NYC children’s bookshop that includes storytime where Meg Ryan wears a princess hat while reading aloud. With its erstwhile owner, a staff that’s like a family, and the twinkly vibe of magic it carries, there’s few places we’d rather spend our time. The store’s demise at the hands of corporate Fox Books is a key part of the storyline here, and a fate we still have trouble swallowing. The good news is New York City’s real life inspiration, Books of Wonder, is still going strong.
The Village Bookshop, Beauty and the Beast
In Beauty and the Beast, Belle visits the local bookshop, which she also uses as a lending library, as her only escape from her “provincial life.” And how many times have we dreamed a bookseller would say, “If you like it all that much, it’s yours!” It’s a brief interlude in the opening musical number, but this inviting bookstore tells us everything we need to know about Belle (and her reading pace — she was just there yesterday!). Oh, isn’t it amazing? It’s our favorite part because you’ll see — and yes, we do see. Very clearly.
Embroyo Concepts, Funny Face
We 100 percent buy that Audrey Hepburn could have been an unassuming bookstore clerk in a Greenwich Village bookshop in another life — which is how we meet her character Jo in musical Funny Face before she’s whisked off to become a model in Paris. The hilariously named bookstore, which the fashion folks select for being “sinister,” is overstocked with pretentious intellectual types and reading material — the movie takes ample opportunity to make fun of the beatniks and counter-culture movement. But it’s got an atmosphere that can’t be beat (and one suitable for a fashion photo shoot) — plus, Audrey Hepburn sings a song in it. What’s not to love?
84 Charing Cross Road, 84 Charing Cross Road
Though it no longer exists today, this is the most real of any of the bookshops on this list. 84 Charing Cross Road was the address of a real London-based store, Marks & Co antiquarian booksellers. Frank Doel (Anthony Hopkins) was the chief buyer for the shop and struck up a friendship with customer Helene Hanff (Anne Bancroft) over-the-course of a 20 year correspondence. Any store that specializes in rare editions by the likes of Jane Austen, Virginia Woolf, and Geoffrey Chaucer is a place we want to visit. Sadly, the real bookstore is long gone — a plaque marks its existence but a McDonald’s stands in its place. Which is a metaphor for…something.
Monsieur Labisse's bookshop, Hugo
Hugo was a magical film for numerous reasons, one being its stunning Oscar-winning art direction, which included this bookshop reportedly stacked with over 40,000 volumes. The bookshop at Gare Montparnasse owned by Monsieur Labisse (Christopher Lee) is all about the power of reading — sending books to a good home and giving books to children that open their imagination and send them on to find their life’s purpose. Not only does the bookshop look like a heavenly place to spend an afternoon (in Paris no less), but the world could use more of the wisdom and generosity of men like Monsieur Labisse.
The Argosy Book Shop, Vertigo
While trying to get the lowdown on the mysterious Carlotta Valdes, the women who holds a bizarre thrall over Madeleine Elster (Kim Novak), Scottie (Jimmy Stewart) visits the Argosy Book Shop with Midge (Barbara Bel Geddes). The owner Pop Leibel (Konstantin Shayne) has the information they require, including the details of the McKittrick Hotel and Carlotta’s suicide. The store is appropriately eccentric and cluttered for its setting, and it’s based on director Alfred Hitchcock’s real-life favorite bookstore, The Argonaut Book Shop. The real store has since moved from its original Kearny Street location in San Francisco to Sutter Street, but its doors are still open. It may be eerie, but there’s no way this book shop doesn’t hold a certain fascination.
Women & Women First, Portlandia
Onscreen, bookshops can be not only fonts of inspiration and information, as well as a perfect locale for romance, but also a site for satire as it is on Portlandia. Women & Women First is a feminist bookstore run by Toni (Carrie Brownstein) and Candace (Fred Armisen), loving caricatures of second-wave feminism. The store appeared on numerous seasons of the show, including their very first episode and the very memorable “Feminist Bookstore 10th Anniversary” episode. With its queer theory classes, holier-than-thou owners, and more, the store lovingly parodied real-life Portland bookstore In Other Words (though they did not appreciate it). Still, the notion of a feminist bookstore paradise is one we can’t let go of — whether or not it makes us laugh.
Ray's Occult Books, Ghostbusters II
Specialty bookshops are the perfect place to find rare books on hyper-specific subjects and who better to run an occult bookstore than a former Ghostbuster? Ray (Dan Aykroyd) opens a store specializing in “bizarre, somewhat strange, and hard to find books” after the Ghostbusters go bankrupt. Other ghostbusters make good use of its stores –Peter Venkman (Bill Murray) shops there frequently and purchases Magical Paths to Fortune and Power. Egon Spengler (Harold Ramis) often uses the books at the shop for paranormal research. Anyone interested in the occult or supernatural could certainly find something to intrigue them inside this shop — and it’s a great side business when ghostbusting doesn’t pay the bills.
Flourish and Blotts, Harry Potter
If buying books for school was as exciting as going to Flourish and Blotts, maybe we’d have been more dedicated to our “required reading.” The magical shop, located on Diagon Alley, makes an appearance in multiple stories in the Harry Potter franchise — but it plays its most notable role in Harry Potter and the Chamber of the Secrets when Harry, Hermione, and the Weasleys go to see Gilderoy Lockhart (Kenneth Branagh) sign books and Ginny (Bonnie Wright) ends up with Tom Riddle’s diary in her bag. Just thinking about the magical tomes hidden on these shelves makes us as giddy as taking Felix Felicis — from Fantastic Beasts to The Monster Book of Monsters and more, the possibilities are endless. Here, books are magic. Literally.
Carl Conrad Coreander's Old Books, The NeverEnding Story
Stories all have to start somewhere — and it’s fitting that The NeverEnding Story begins in a bookstore. When Bastian (Barret Oliver) takes refuge from bullies in Coreander’s antiquarian bookstore, he discovers (and steals) “The Neverending Story,” catapulting him into a fantastical adventure. Coreander (Thomas Hill) may be a bit frightening at first, but the story is a testament to the power of imagination and literature — and if we could find a book this thrilling lurking in a shop, it’s a place we’d gladly visit.
Stars Hollow Books, Gilmore Girls
When your heroine is a bookworm, you’ve got to have a great local bookstore — and Stars Hollow Books is everything we could ask for with its charming cluttered shelves and small-town vibe. Rory (Alexis Bledel) loves books so much she gets a job here sorting them — and ends up spending most of her paycheck buying books. #Relatable. Bonus points for Jess (Milo Ventimiglia) enjoying hanging out here. Cute, literary minded bad boys and the joys of a charming indie bookshop? How can we go there?
Geiger Rare Books and Acme Bookshop, The Big Sleep
These two bookshops are across the street from each other, and Geiger’s rare bookstore is really just a front for illegal activity by underworld boss A.G. Geiger, but they provide a key clue in the mystery that Philip Marlowe (Humphrey Bogart) is trying to solve. The rare books he inquires after may not exist (classic Chandler red herring), but the clerks at the shops, including an irresistible early career Dorothy Malone, sure do. Chandler based the shops here on actual bookstores on Hollywood Blvd., including one near Musso and Franks. These two shops have the seedy allure of any noir location aided by Bogart’s effortless cool in the role — and if Dorothy Malone is helping us find a book, we’d like to be there pronto.
The Bookshop, The Bookshop
Widow Florence Green (Emily Mortimer) simply wants to use an abandoned piece of property to open a bookshop in her smalltown in Suffolk — but the wealthier townspeople are dead set against her, repeatedly trying to have her evicted. Florence befriends a young Christine (Honor Kneafsey), who works in the shop, as well as her best customer, lonely recluse Edmund Brundish (Bill Nighy) with whom she strikes up a romantic relationship. The film centers on this charming, tiny bookshop — and how it can come to mean so much to people, its power to open your mind to new ideas, and to offer its customers hope and escape. Though the bookshop meets an ignominious fate, we would have liked to visit Florence’s pet project, which is bursting with charm and her love for her work.
Shakespeare and Co., When Harry Met Sally
Though the bookstore is never officially named in When Harry Met Sally, you can see the Shakespeare and Co. branding on the window in certain scenes. This bookstore is the site of the title characters’ auspicious third meeting where they finally become “friends.” As Carrie Fisher’s Marie aptly puts it, “Someone is staring at you in personal growth,” and it turns out to be Harry Burns (Billy Crystal). He connects with Sally (Meg Ryan), and they end up going to lunch after detailing the end of both of their current relationships. Who can resist a timeless meet (for the third time) cute in the “personal growth” section? If this were us, we’d want the rest of our life to start as soon as possible — beginning with this bookshop perfection.