If we can invoke all the bookshops in the world and hold them up to test for squidginess then let me slip in my favourite, Daunts, on Marylebone High Street, London, specialising in travel books.
In the main room, books are arranged not by author or publisher or type, but by geographical region: Low Countries, Oceania, The Balkans, Central Europe. Travel guides jostle cookbooks wrestle maps cavort with novels nudge photography collections elbow phrasebooks for shelf space.
Other more general works are laid out temptingly on the tables screaming to be picked up and poured over. The windows are of stained glass, there's a second tier of books along a wooden balcony and a skylight runs the length of the gallery, so that the shop appears nothing less than a chapel of books. Amen. Amen.
There are no sofas, no in-store-coffee-corner, but down the road is Patisserie Valerie. Books can be devoured with grilled goast cheese crostini and red pepper salad in a room decorated with chandeliers, gilt mirrors and pale green and yellow murals of flowery bowers and dhows sailing between mythical islands. And I can never resist a fruit-laden tart from the window display of cakes and gateaux and marzipan animals.
I also nurse with joy the knowledge that in the C18th, this shop belonged to a bookseller called Davies. Samuel Johnson, compiler of the first comprehensive English dictionary, met Boswell (who became his friend and later biographer) on this very spot in May 1763.
The past happens in the same spaces as the present in London and the dust of history settles on your clothes.
I will be back there in a couple of weeks. I may even brave the cold to explore some of the other London bookshops listed here.