There aren’t many bookshops in the world that are considered destinations in their own right. Atlantis Books in Oia, however, is one such place, having featured for the past 15 years on numerous “must-visit” lists, such as the Top 10 most interesting bookstores in the world, featured in National Geographic’s special supplement “Destinations of a Lifetime,” where it was ranked as No 1.
The idea that gave birth to the shop came to two friends, Craig and Oliver, when they were on the island on vacation. It took two years, and the help and hard work of more friends that arrived from all over Europe, before the intrepid cofounders of this unique bookshop housed in a space dug out of the rock could open their doors for business.
What they achieved was amazing. They built a veritable rabbit warren right in the heart of cosmopolitan Oia.“The bookshop is, indeed, still going strong! The staff is here, flowers are blooming and books are flowing in and out like the waves. Our shop just got a fresh coat of paint and our terrace looks better than ever,” says Craig, delighting in the smell of fresh paint, which signals the start of yet another season in Oia.
A cat will undoubtedly brush your leg as you descend the steps to the entrance of Atlantis Books, on the main paved street. Mind your head. Two legs may well be dangling above you, from the wooden mezzanine of the dugout space; some of the staff also live here.
Squeeze in alongside fellow reader-travelers who have spent a lifetime insatiably devouring the printed page; together, you’ll encounter wondrous heroes from every sort of tale.
Along with works addressed to modern explorers, such as “The Pocket Atlas of Remote Islands,” you‘ll also find the verses of Cavafy, under “Greek Poetry.” There are books on Greek history and culture, too, and children’s books, and cook books. The shop’s inventory includes works by the great classical authors of world literature, as well as Greek writers translated into five languages, together with a good number of rare and collectable volumes.
What’s more, Atlantis Books now boasts its own imprint, Paravion Press, as well as an online store. Witty limericks and philosophical musings adorn the walls.
The overburdened shelves do not, in general, hold the newest or the trendiest titles. Selections have been made with care. You won’t find just any old book here, only those that have become landmarks in world literature or that promise to be special and unforgettable gifts. There are volumes that will make you linger for a little longer, in a place that smells of fresh hot coffee in the morning, and provides shelter from the madding crowds.
These are books that have moved the owners personally, and are certain to do the same for you.