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Guide

Lit city: Manchester for book lovers

8 months ago

We love buying them, smelling them, arranging them. Sometimes we even read them. If you’re a book lover in Manchester, you’ve no shortage of places to indulge your bibliophilia.

There are three beautiful libraries in Manchester city centre alone, plus a major annual literature festival, and lots of quirky, indie bookshops to explore. Some double-up as cafes where you can hunker down with coffee, cake and your favourite author (or your WIP).

Whether you’re a reader, a writer, or a bit of both, here’s our favourite places to visit on a literary day out in Manchester.

  • Books from Anywhere Out Of The World, a bookshop in Manchester specialising in poetry, philosophy and history
    Northern Quarter

    Anywhere Out Of The World

    Bookshops

    It’s no surprise that Anywhere Out Of The World, a bookshop named after a line from Baudelaire, doesn’t specialise in blockbusters and thrillers.

    Instead, you’ll find a sense of calm, a tea room and a varied selection of books on poetry, philosophy and history. Autobiography and anthropology also make an appearance on the shelves.

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  • The Art of Tea, a cafe-bar and secondhand bookshop in Didsbury, Manchester.
    Didsbury

    The Art of Tea

    Cafes

    Independent coffee shop and bar The Art of Tea offers more than just good quality loose leaf tea. It’s situated adjacent to a lovingly curated, second-hand bookshop, and it’s easy to lose a few hours there between the pages of a Penguin Classic or hooked up to their wifi.

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  • Tables in Chapter One, a bookshop and cafe in Manchester's Northern Quarter
    Northern Quarter

    Chapter One

    Bookshops

    Chapter One is an independent bookshop and café with a huge selection of fancy drinks, vegan-friendly cakes and a well-curated selection of literature.

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  • Chetham's Library in Manchester
    Book Now Manchester City Centre

    Chetham’s Library, Chetham’s School of Music and The Stoller Hall

    Music Venues

    Chetham’s combines history, education, music and culture. The institution comprises Chetham’s library, the internationally-renowned School of Music and The Stoller Hall.

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  • A copy of Elizabeth Gaskell's North and South with tea cup on a table
    Ardwick

    Elizabeth Gaskell’s House

    Historic Buildings & Sites

    Visitors to Elizabeth Gaskell’s House can explore the author’s home where she wrote most of her novels such as North and South and Cranford.

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  • Exterior of House of Books and Friends, a bookshop in Manchester
    Manchester

    House of Books and Friends

    Bookshops

    House of Books and Friends is a bookshop with a difference. As well as knowledgeable, friendly staff, a great selection of books and a café with some very nice cake, this place is a bookshop on a mission.

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  • Study alcove in John Rylands Library in Manchester city centre
    Spinningfields

    John Rylands Research Institute and Library

    Historic Buildings & Sites

    It’s part of the University of Manchester but you don’t have to be a scholar to enjoy this inspiring space. In fact, John Rylands Library was built to give the people of Manchester a place where they could read, create and wonder.

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  • Statue of a woman reading at Manchester Central Library
    Manchester City Centre

    Manchester Central Library

    Historic Buildings & Sites

    Officially, The Lowry is the most visited attraction in Greater Manchester, but only because the official list for some reason doesn’t include Central Library. It recorded a staggering 2m visits in 2019/2020, making it the busiest public library in the UK. 

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  • David Nicholls, Manchester Literature Festival 2024
    Manchester City Centre

    Manchester Literature Festival

    Festivals

    Manchester Literature Festival has grown considerably in size and stature since it debuted back in 2006. Held annually in October, it’s now known as one of the north’s leading festivals for book-lovers.

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  • The reading room at The Portico Library in Manchester.
    Manchester City Centre

    The Portico Library

    Libraries

    The Portico Library is as peaceful and relaxing as any library could be, despite being situated on Mosley Street in Manchester city centre with trams zipping past every few minutes.

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  • Books at Queer Lit, a LGBTQ+ bookshop in Ancoats, Manchester
    Ancoats

    Queer Lit

    Bookshops

    Rather than being consigned to one small shelf, Queer Lit celebrates literature that reflects the queer experience throughout the shop. Have you ever struggled to find a book that reflects your ethos or lived experience as a gay person? Seek out Queer Lit.

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  • The exterior of the Working Class Movement Library in Salford, Greater Manchester
    Salford

    Working Class Movement Library

    Libraries

    Situated in Jubilee House on The Crescent in Salford, the Working Class Movement Library tells the tale of working people’s struggles to be heard through books, journals, pamphlets, archives, photographs, plays, poetry, songs, banners, badges, posters, biographies, cartoons and reports.

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