Atlantis Books

Atlantis Books

Atlantis Books

Atlantis Books

Atlantis Books

Atlantis Books

As both a avid reader and devoted bibliophile, Atlantis Books had popped up on my radar on more than a few occasions before our honeymoon to Greece. I love bookshops, so a bookshop in paradise was a no brainer. I’ve made it my mission in life to visit as many English bookshops in foreign countries as I can, starting first in Paris with Shakespeare & Company, Galignani, The Abbey, and San Francisco Book Company. (I’m excluding W.H. Smith from this list, even though I did frequent their location on the Rue de Rivoli more than I’d like to admit for the easy access to British chocolate, only because they are an English chain that happens to have a branch in Paris, and aren’t an independent store) Sure, I’ve only been to English bookshops in France so far, but I take my newfound raison d’étre very seriously, and I knew a trip to Santorini would be incomplete without visiting Atlantis Books, in Oia.

So the afternoon we took a bus to the town and had lunch on Ammoudi Bay, we scouted out the shop, and had a peek around. Nestled into the side of a cliff and situated below street level, making it feel like you’re descending into a secret literature lair, Atlantis Books was opened in 2004 by expats from the US, England, and Cyprus, who fell in love with Santorini (obviously) and decided to stay. From their website: “We found an empty building facing the sunset, drank some whiskey and signed a lease. We found a dog and cat, opened a bank account, applied for a business license, found some friends, built the shelves, landed a boat on the terrace and filled the place with books.” Simple as that. And the result is something extraordinary.

There are books everywhere, stacked to the ceiling, displayed on tables, wrapped around columns. There are books in every language, books they print and hand-bind themselves, old first editions of books you’ve only dreamt about seeing in the wild. There was a sleeping pup in the doorway, and a lofted bed in the back I immediately thought about claiming. It is, in short, magnificent, and I made three laps of the space, Jamal trotting dutifully behind me to catch me if I passed out from joy. We left, eventually, with a paperback copy of Eleanor Catton’s behemoth “The Luminaries,” a Michael Lewis non-fiction for Jamal, as well as a cotton tote bag with the shop’s name and logo as a souvenir. I could’ve spent days in there, and on the way out I had a fleeting vision of begging for employment, jettisoning all our belongings, setting up a home on the island, and figuring out a way to keep Fitz from diving into the water at every turn.

Atlantis Books
Oia, Santorini
T.K. 84702

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October 22, 2014 / art / photo / Travel / wedding / LEAVE A COMMENT / 23

23 comments

  • On my first trip to Greece, way back in college, I blew out my knee and had to come home early for knee surgery. This means I left my group and had a day and a half in Athens on my own. It was great! But I was beat down. Tired, lonely and in a lot of pain. There was no wandering of the Plaka in the state I was in, and feeling more than a little at the end of the rope the way I was, being surrounded by Greeks and the Greek language felt more exhausting than exhilarating at that point. Still, I needed to eat, so I found a cafe near my hotel and next to that cafe was an English bookshop. What sweet relief. I splurged on books, some of them the trashiest novels I could find, and parked myself in that cafe for the rest of the afternoon. Being able to sink into a novel and while away an afternoon, especially when there was no hope of actually going anywhere, was such a comfort.

    I was so young, and part of me couldn’t wait to get on the plane back home and not have to concentrate on someone’s broken English. Who did I get seated next to? An American, all right, but a deaf college student. He was great, but there was no relaxing to communicate. It’s a wonder I ever went back. ;)

    • I am dyyying at that story! I mean, not the part about your knee, that sounds horrible, as does not being able to explore at your own leisure without the rest of the group. I’m just amazed at the universal healing power of books, how they are a constant respite for everyone at all different points, you know? Did you guys try to go back and see if the shop was still there on any of your recent trips? I love that you found an American, finally, on the plane…and of course he was deaf. It says a lot about the pull of Greece that you are still so in love after that first experience! xoxo

  • The outside of the bookshop is so stinking cute!! What a magical find!

    • It really was! I found it on a Buzzfeed list, of all places, a while ago and was charmed immediately! How fortuitous that I ended up going to Greece. xo

  • oh man, this place looks awesome. i love all the hand written signs/notes: YO CHINESE! and …BE PREPARED! (jamal had fair warning) small businesses like these (and the entreprnurial masterminds behind them) are so inspiring to me, glad you got to visit it and support their awesomeness.

    • He did have fair warning! And I’d only been talking about making a visit here for months, sooo. It’s hard not to feel sad about returning to my regular Barnes & Noble after visiting places like this and the small ones in Paris. Maybe the solution is I should just open my own tiny bookshop! :) xo

  • How could a bookshop, get any more perfect?!?!?!?

    Tessa~

    • Answer: it can’t!! I think this one wins :) xo

  • I need to visit this bookshop!! It looks amazing.
    Also – need to express my excitement at the picture of The Garden Party, by Katherine Mansfield, and the mention of Eleanor Catton :) Two very talented New Zealanders!

    • Atlantis Books was just like the cherry on top of an already perfect sundae. Santorini really knocked it out of the park, you have to go!! And I never knew Katherine Mansfield was a New Zealander! Ha, unintentional kiwi references :) xo

  • J’aime beaucoup the way you write.

    • Merci, mon chou! xo

  • I got really excited for a second looking at these photos because I thought this was in Philly.
    Nope. One more reason to visit Santorini!

    • Add it to the list! Though it’s my mission now to open an equally charming and perfect bookshop in Philly. Maybe you could go in with me and run the cafe/bakery! xo

  • Quelle belle librairie ! La façade est superbe et à l’intérieur on a l’impression que l’on peut trouver un trésor littéraire.J’aime beaucoup le mot à l’attention des visiteurs.

    • Oui, Véronique, c’est un vrai trésor littéraire. La trop mieux type de trésor. :) xo

  • This place looks amazing. I can almost smell the books!

    • It was quite a delight! You should hop on over and visit it for me :) xo

  • Une endroit magique ! Je crois que j’aurais passé beaucoup de temps dedans ! J’espère que cette libraire a vu tes photos parce qu’il doivent être content d’avoir des photos si magnifiques de sa librairie ! Bon weekend Erin ;)

    • C’etait tellement magique. Je souvent pense que tous des libraries sont magique, mais cette endroit etait! J’espere que tu as passé un bon weekend, aussi, Eva! xo

  • Oh how I do love independent book shops, especially quaint ones like this. I, like you, love frequenting book shops while traveling. I’d much rather weigh down my luggage with a book from a far-off land than a tacky souvenir that would end up being forgotten and collecting dust.

    I hope you love “The Luminaries”, I surely did. There is definitely a reason why it won The Man Booker Prize.

    • So true, Hillary. We picked up a few tiny beach pebbles from our day at Ammoudi Bay, and these books, but otherwise we came home without physical souvenirs. Well, there was a bottle of wine. And a bottle of olive oil. But still! No tchotchkes!

      I’m excited to start “The Luminaries.” I have a few books in line ahead of it on my nightstand, but I’m getting there. It’s good to know you endorse it! xo

  • Gorgeous! And I’m reading The Luminaries right now too – and ready to move to New Zealand again. Sigh