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Bookstores to Visit

World's Coolest Bookstores

On July 24, 2014 CNN released their list of World’s Coolest Bookstores, and we can confirm the coolness of five that are located in cities we know well from our handbooks.

The Last Bookstore 1

To start, The Last Bookstore in Los Angeles started as an online store but is now located in an old bank, vaults included. On the top floor, there is a section called the Labyrinth with over 100,000 books all priced at a dollar. The Last Bookstore 2Along with their wide collection of books (making them the largest independent bookstore in California), Last Bookstore also sells records and holds book signings/readings. If that isn’t enticing enough, the book structures (such as the desk and tunnel to the Labyrinth) will make the visit worth your while.

StanfordsThe next couple of shops are Stanfords and Foyles Flagship, both of which are in London. Stanfords carries the world’s largest stock of maps and travel bFoyles Flagshipooks, which comes as no surprise since the store initially opened as a map shop in 1853. If you are traveling through London and need assistance with your next excursion, the attentive staff at Stanfords can help with your research. Foyles Flagship, on the other hand, originated in 1903 when brothers William and Gilbert Foyles started selling textbooks based on an exam they had failed. Now the store is thriving with five locations, one of which is where the Sex Pistols first performed.

The StrandAnother of CNN’s coolest bookstores is The Strand in New York City. The Strand was started by Ben Bass on 4th Avenue in book row amongst 48 other bookstores and is the only one left standing today. Currently on 12th and Broadway, The Strand carries over 2.5 million new, used, and rare books. According to their website, the store is still kept in the Bass family, and they expect to continue this tradition, not seeing online stores like Amazon as a threat.

PowellsAnd last, but certainly not least, is Powell’s City of Books in Portland, OR. It might be a little biased to say this, but Powell’s is a book-lover’s paradise. The store takes up a whole city block and is packed up to three levels with books. Powell’s carries 122 subjects and 3,500 subsections, making it hard to not find a book on their shelves. If you do find something they don’t carry (because it has been self-published), Powell’s can print it right in the store with their Espresso Book Maker.

Those are the bookstores from CNN’s list we know from our Newcomer’s Handbooks. And if you’re moving to any of these cities, we suggest checking these stores out.

Written by: Kristin Monteith

Harry Potter Film Locations in London

LondonIt has been an exciting month for Harry Potter fans. On July 8th, J.K. Rowling released a short story narrated by Rita Skeeter, the gossip-crazed character that readers first meet in The Goblet of Fire. The 1,500 word story is entitled “Dumbledore’s Army Reunites at Quidditch World Cup Final,” which has Rita gossiping over Dumbledore’s Army and their family. In addition, the spin-off movie based on one of Harry Potter’s school books, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, will be in theaters on November 18, 2016. Furthermore, July 8th marked the opening of Diagon Alley in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida. Such incredible buzz surrounding the book series— even three years after the last movie— makes fans want to re-embrace the wizarding world. While most people can visit Universal Studios, that experience does not easily compare to visiting some of the actual set locations in London.

Here are a few:


  • King’s Cross station services north-east England and the east coast of Scotland. However, in the book series, this station can take you to the entirely different realm of Hogwarts, that is if you can find Platform 9 ¾ hidden between the walls. Since the books and films’ success, the wall between platform 9 and 10 has now been labeled as 9 ¾. To illustrate the landmark, a half cart is attached to the wall, so that fans can take photos as though they are entering the platform. King’s Cross is where all the station-based scenes have been filmed, including the scene in the last film where Dumbledore and Harry talk for the last time in the middle of the Battle of Hogwarts.
  • Diagon Alley, the major shopping center for all wizards that appears in many of the movies, was shot in two different locations. The outside of Diagon Alley, or the “muggle” side, was filmed in Borough Market. The market features Dickensian cobbled streets and has now become a mecca for foodies as well as the secret entrance to Diagon Alley (which can be entered through the Leaky Cauldron). The shopping scenes within Diagon Alley were filmed in Leadenhall Market, across from the London Bridge.
  • In the first film, Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone, Harry discovers he can talk to snakes and accidentally traps Dudley in the snake’s tank at the London Zoo.  This scene was filmed at the actual London Zoo, located in Regent’s Park, which now has a sign to mark the tank that housed the python in the movie (though it is now home to a black mamba).
  • Harrow School is where Professor Flitwick’s classes were filmed in the first movie. The school was founded in the 16th century and other than appearing in Harry Potter, it has become famous for educating seven prime ministers. The Harrow District resides just north of London Center and currently operates as an all-boy boarding school.

Newcomer's Handbook for London

Those are a few scenes filmed in London if you happen to be visiting there, or if you’re moving to the area, check out our Newcomer’s Handbook for moving to and living in London.

Written by: Kristin Monteith