The Curated List

Paradise Found: Eight Blissful Spots to Read around the World

By Suzanne Davis  •    •  September 7, 2018

Paradise Found: Eight Blissful Spots to Read around the World

By Suzanne Davis  •  September 7, 2018


Want to dive into a book far from the madding crowds? Bibliophiles share their reading spots of choice in eight cities.

I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library,” said Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges. And anyone who has been to the New York Public Library’s gilded and frescoed Rose Main Reading Room would agree. But not every literary elysium needs to be grand and lined with dusty tomes. Few things nourish the soul as much as losing yourself in a book in an unfamiliar but cozy bookshop, for example, or on a park bench overlooking the ocean, yachts bobbing in the distance. When better to immerse yourself between the pages of a book than while traveling.

In honor of Global Literacy Month, and Rosewood’s partnership with literacy organization Room to Read, we asked a few of our favorite book lovers for their preferred rooms to read, library or otherwise. 

LONDON

The book-lover: Kimberley Tait, author of Fake Plastic Love (Flatiron Books).

The place: The flagship of Daunt Books, housed in a 1910 edifice on Marylebone High Street.

Why it’s great: “This gorgeous Edwardian book shop in Marylebone is the dreamiest in town,” says Tait, whose debut novel was on many of this summer’s best-beach-reads lists. “Its galleried main room is lined with oak shelves, with an arched stained-glass window and skylights streaming in beautiful light—even on the grayest London day. If you ever need to send out a search party for me, make Daunt the first stop.”

What to read: Elizabeth Day and Kate Atkinson are two of my favorite English authors. But at Daunt, books are arranged by country, so a spin around the store makes you feel like you’re hopping between genres and eras and continents,” says Tait. “Totally transporting.”

The details: Daunt Books Marylebone: 83 Marylebone High Street; +44 20-7224-2295

Where to Stay

NASSAU, BAHAMAS

The book-lover: Bahamian fashion designer Theodore Elyett.

The place: The 18th-century Nassau Public Library, an octagonal prison transformed into a library in 1837—and painted the same blush hue as the flamingo, the country’s national bird.

Why it’s great: “It’s a quaint and wonderful walk down memory lane outfitted with an array of historical, fiction, and non-fiction books,” says Elyett, whose elegant, Caribbean-infused looks have been shown from London to Beijing. “It also houses a mini-museum with artifacts that date back hundreds of years.”

What to read: Works by famous Bahamian authors, like poet Susan Wallace, playwright James Catlin, and local historian Gail Saunders.

The details: Nassau Public Library: Parliament Square, Nassau; +1 242-322-4907

Where to Stay

SANTA FE

The book-lover: Todd Spitzer, owner of Opuntia Cafe and creator of Sky Coffee.

The place: Canyon Road’s The Teahouse, a leafy respite that specializes in rare teas.

Why it’s great: “I love to hide away and read on their patio. It has a bit of an Italian grotto feel that is usually quiet and laid back,” explains the California native behind several of Santa Fe’s third-wave coffee hubs. “They also have both a great selection of Oolong teas for the morning and a killer wine list in the afternoon (I dig the Sangiovese). So any time of day it’s a win-win.”

What to read: “My go-to Santa Fe author is Hampton Sides, especially his book Blood and Thunder, a must-read to understand the history and culture of northern New Mexico.”

The details: The Teahouse: 821 Canyon Road; +1 505-992-0972

Where to Stay

 

ABU DHABI

The insider: Kirsty Larmour, lifestyle photographer.

The place: The Louvre Abu Dhabi, designed by Jean Nouvel and opened in 2017.

Why it’s great: Based in Abu Dhabi for more than a decade, photographer and bookhound Larmour considers the new Louvre outpost “a trove of art delights and spectacular light and architecture,” making it a tranquil spot to enjoy a coffee and a book. The surrounding lawns, with benches overlooking the turquoise Arabian Gulf, also make for a delightful spot to rest and read.

What to read: “The museum’s boutique sells books covering many of the exhibitions and artists, from ancient Middle Eastern history to more contemporary artists such as Jackson Pollock and Ai Weiwei. But I would also recommend reading Rags to Riches by Mohammed Al Fahim, a well-loved and thorough book that gives insight into the development of this beautiful city. For kids, a perfect read on the grass would be A is for Arabia by Julia Johnson—an ABC of desert living.”

The details:  Louvre Abu Dhabi: Saadiyat Cultural District, Abu Dhabi; +971 600-56-55-66

Where to Stay

 

PARIS

The insider: Ann Mah, writer and author of The Lost Vintage (HarperCollins), Mastering the Art of French Eating, and more.

The place: The beloved Jardin du Luxembourg, created in 1612 by order of Marie de’ Medici.

Why it’s great: “The shady, grassy areas that line the southerly and westerly sides of the park are perfect for a quiet afternoon,” explains Paris-based Mah, whose books have been translated into eleven languages. “Gracious old trees provide relief from the sun—and though you’re not allowed on the grass, the deep-seated metal lounge chairs are surprisingly comfortable. I’ve spent hours here cooled by the breeze rustling through the elm leaves, deeply absorbed in a book, glancing up only to admire the riot of colors playing across the exquisite flower beds.”   
What to read: “I’d recommend Chanson Douce [English translation: The Perfect Nanny] by Leïla Slimani, L’Appart by David Lebovitz, and The New Paris by Lindsey Tramuta.”

The details: Jardin du Luxembourg: Rue de Médicis – Rue de Vaugirard; +33 1-42-64-33-99

Where to Stay

PALO ALTO, CALIFORNIA

The insider: Irene Edwards, Editor in Chief of Sunset magazine.

The place: Bell’s Books, a Palo Alto mainstay since 1935, with more than 150,000 tomes on offer.

Why it’s great: “Bell’s Books is one of those classic old-timey, family-owned bookshops you’d picture on Main Street—or read about in a cherished childhood novel,” says Edwards, who moved to the East Bay to helm the West Coast’s leading lifestyle magazine in 2015. “The space is a die-hard bookworm’s dream, from the gold hand-lettered façade to the floor-to-ceiling shelves stocked with new and vintage titles and accessed with rolling library ladders. I could spend all year in this place and still never want to leave.”

What to read: “Poke around and you’ll find any number of treasures, including oversize art books and Steinbeck first editions.”

The details: Bell’s Books: 536 Emerson St., Palo Alto, Calif.; +1 650-323-7822

Where to Stay

DALLAS

The insider: Andrés de la Casa-Huertas, brand director at indie bookstore and café The Wild Detectives.

The place: Lakeside Park, on 14 sculpture-filled acres overlooking Turtle Creek.

Why it’s great: “There’s a bench—below a big oak, in front of a creek full of water lilies and ducks—where I love to go to read,” explains de la Casa-Huertas, who’s helped turn Wild Detectives, which opened in the trendy Bishops Arts District in 2014, into what D Magazine calls the city’s “literary heart.” “The park is beautiful and leafy, and feels remote if you seat facing west towards sunset, leaving Lakeside Drive at your back. I think the park cries when you go there and don’t carry a book with you.”

What to read: “My favorite Dallas-based writers are Ben Fountain (Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk), Merritt Tierce (Love Me Back) and Sarah Hepola (Blackout).”

The details: Lakeside Park: 4601 Lakeside Drive, Highland Park, Texas; +1 214-521-4161

Where to Stay

VANCOUVER

The insider: Leah Alexandra, jewelry designer.

The place: Jericho Beach, a contemplative overlook with Instagrammable views of the skyline and windsurfers in the distance.

Why it’s great: “This beach is a little further west than most of the other popular beaches in Vancouver,” explains Alexandra, whose Vancouver studio has garnered legions of fans, including Hollywood A-listers Reese Witherspoon and Jessica Alba. “It usually has a bit more privacy—and better dibs on spots to read. It overlooks the bay across from the West Van shore and mountains, and there are plenty of quiet areas by the water where you can get comfy with a book and a picnic and watch the boats go by. On a summer evening, it’s the best place to catch the sunset.

What to read: “I can usually be found flipping through independent magazines such as Unconditional or The Gentlewoman—they’re filled with the work of emerging artists and creative people that I can look to for inspiration.”

The details: Jericho Beach:  3941 Point Grey Rd, Vancouver, B.C.; +1 604-873-7000

Where to Stay

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Uncover our musings on travel, art, fashion, and culture from the legendary personalities who embody the spirit of Rosewood Hotels & Resorts.