There are few places in the Metro that you can truly escape to. We’re not talking about bars, but if that’s how you roll, we don’t judge. If you are more into peace and quiet—and maybe after a possible meet-cute moment—bookstores are 100% the way to go. Bibliophile or not, these places exude a certain kind of Zen that’s hard to replicate, and the rush of finding a great read is incomparable.
We round up some of the best bookstores in the Metro, based on how inviting the shop is—in other words, how many hours can go by before we remember we’re supposed to be doing something important—and how good the selection is, depending on whether the store has a specialization or not.
Here are 10 of the best bookstores in Metro Manila:
1| Fully Booked Bonifacio High Street
A sure constant for any bibliophile, Fully Booked’s flagship store in Bonifacio Global City is an entire building’s worth of books and curios. The selection goes far and wide, with each area dedicated to a specific genre so you’re sure to walk out with a new read or an unexpected find. Plus, this bookstore also hides a Starbucks, Mediterranean restaurant, Medley, and you can even shop for literary-themed tote bags. Now if only they would bring back their CD albums section on the top floor.
Fully Booked Bonifacio High Street is at B6 Bonifacio High Street, Bonifacio Global City.
Born out of a shed behind Tomato Kick—a go-to place for Diliman-slash-Katipunan kids to eat, drink, and hang—Bookfellas is the place for unconventional finds. Owner Dan Gaffud collects second-hand reads of all kinds, from vintage magazines to niche coffee table books, to, of course, hard-to-find copies. It’s not the Metro’s largest or flashiest bookstore, but each possible nook and cranny is stuffed with books of all kinds so your next great read is quite likely on a shelf somewhere here. There’s also a couch for you to plop on and read at your leisure once you’ve found it.
Bookfellas is at 19 Malingap Street, Diliman, Quezon City.
With its totally nondescript entrance, artbooks.ph is almost easy to miss—a great thing for those who would rather keep the place their own secret. But we think it’s time the Metro knew about the country’s sole bookstore that specializes in Philippine art books. If you’re looking for books on visual arts, film, design, or anything about Filipino artists, then this specialty store is your best bet.
artbooks.ph is at 123 Pioneer Street, Mandaluyong City.
4| Powerbooks Alabang Town Center
Nothing beats reliability. While we miss the huge sprawling stores of the old Powerbooks—who else remembers the wonky shelves with a kidney-shaped reading nook they once had in the SM Megamall branch?—this bookstore is still a trove of great reads. Their selection includes everything from Western canon to contemporary poetry, with fun stationary and children’s books and toys thrown in. The Alabang Town Center branch also has an area for you to sit, chill, and read.
Powerbooks - Alabang Town Center is at LGF Cortes de Las Palmas, Alabang Commercial Corporation Ayala Town Center, Alabang, Muntinlupa City.
5| Kwago Book Bar
Disappear for a bit into the Kwago bookstore and you’re more or less guaranteed to come out with a new book—or at the very least, some peace of mind. This bookstore-slash-café-slash-bar is hidden at Warehouse Eight, and is an intimate space that aims to “make people fall in love with reading.” Aside from the curated selection of reads, Kwago is also where people can come together for workshops and even check out small exhibits.
Kwago Book Bar is at Warehouse 8-A, La Fuerza Plaza, 2241 Don Chino Roces Avenue, Makati City.
6| Roel’s Bookshop
This little bookstore tucked away in Teacher’s Village, Quezon City, has a bit of a cult-following amidst those in the know. It may be small, but Roel’s Bookshop is known for carrying rare and out-of-print books; there are more than enough shelves—filled with the likes of antique editions of Shakespeare to works of Susan Sontag—to browse through for hours on end. Plus, there’s something about the no-frills store, and all the old tomes, that makes the place feel familiar.
Roel’s Bookshop is at 176 Maginhawa Street, Sikatuna Village, Quezon City.
The only entry on this list that focuses on children’s books, Quriocity is a fun space that goes beyond selling reads. The bright space is used for events, workshops, creative classes, story-telling sessions, and more. Located near South Triangle in Quezon City, this shop-slash-bookstore is designed like a homey oasis with comfy couches, plants, and even a swing perfect for some reading. Right next door is Jiro Coffee Studio, where you can get some fuel while hanging out in Quriocity.
Quriocity is at 2/F Crossroad Center, 77 Mother Ignacia Avenue, Quezon City.
8| Fully Booked Evia Lifestyle Center
There’s something about a library that’s almost, dare we say, sexy. So when you make a bookstore that feels like one, and then throw in a café, you might as well put a figurative ring on it. That’s exactly what Fully Booked did at their Evia Lifestyle Center branch. They teamed up with Coffee Project to bring book lovers a sunlit atrium with reads piled high in almost every corner; It’s a quiet place to get cuddly and cozy with a cup of coffee and your latest tome.
Coffee Project X Fully Booked - Evia Lifestyle Center is at Daang Hari, Almanza Dos, Las Piñas City.
9| Upper Shelf
Whether you’re a member of the academe or not, the store of the University of the Philippines Press is worth a visit. Their branch at UP Town Center carries local literary and scholarly books published by the state university, as well as a couple seats for when you find an interesting read. Most bookstore chains have a specific section for Filipino authors—while foreign works take up most of the space—but over at the UPper Shelf, local works are the default.
UPper Shelf is at 2/F UP Town Center, Diliman, Quezon City.
10| Biblio Ayala Malls The 30th
If you’re ever in desperate need of some quiet time, you can check out Biblio. Beyond the piles upon piles of almost-new reads—covering everything from paperbacks to children’s stories—you can also find fun stationery items and maybe even a mystery book to take home. These anonymous reads come wrapped in brown paper with short, handwritten summaries. A couple of their branches, including the one at Ayala Malls The 30th sell snacks and coffee, making it even better for browsing and breathing easy.
Biblio - Ayala Malls The 30th is at 30 Meralco Avenue, Ugong, Pasig City.
This story originally appeared on Spot.ph. Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.