Favorite Bookstores

The finest bookstore in the world is, bizarrely, the Montclair Book Center, in Montclair, New Jersey. Why is this? Why does this dinky town in New Jersey have a bookstore with just the right feel, where you can find nearly anything you want? I've theorized that it's because it's far enough from New York City that you don't get those hordes, but still manages to snag all the books from the rich folk in the Oranges and surrounds. Or perhaps there's some other magic at work. I adore the basement, filled with hardcover first editions, where I always seem to be entirely alone.

Shakespeare and Company, Paris: the nicest mess, the most genial host, and he'll even let you spread your pallet on the floor if you ask in the right way.

Diwan on Zamalek in Cairo. On a 40-degree August day, walking into air-conditioned Diwan and picking up Alexandria: City of Memory and an espresso is like entering Paradise.

Foyles, Charing Cross Road, London. Unbelievable selection, and the most bibliophilic staff around.

Powell's City of Books, Portland, Oregon. It really feels like a city, it's so ginormous. Inscribed Le Guins abound.

Bookstop, Yaya Center, Nairobi. There are always delights in this little nook, that seems to contain more books than its space would allow. The handsome, gregarious curator appears to know everyone in the city.

Canterbury's, Madison, Wisconsin. Beautiful bookstore, with pricey, but superbly chosen stock. There's a Canterbury Tales-themed hotel next door.