If you're looking for a book to read while traveling in the UK, the tiny market town of Hay-on-Wye, on the border of Wales and England, is the place to be. Booklovers are spoiled for choice when wandering the narrow, winding streets of Hay. This sleepy country town of just over 1500 people currently boasts more bookshops -- over two dozen at last count -- per capita than anywhere else in the world.
Richard Booth's Bookshop was the first to open in the old fire station in the 1960's, and it's a good place to start a local book tour. It's easy to lose track of time while perusing three floors of books sprinkled with sunlit nooks, cozy crannies, and comfortable chairs. True crime, graphic novels, military history, folklore, astrology, linguistics and much more, it's all here.
Head next to the Hay Cinema Shop -- a converted movie theater with a running stock of over 200,000 secondhand, overstock, and antique books on a wide variety of subjects. Even though it is only two floors, it's easy to get lost in the sprawling floor-to-ceiling bookshelves and occasional staircases.
Interested in mysteries, check out the Murder and Mayhem bookstore. Inclined to a rhyme, check out The Poetry Bookshop. Rose's Books specializes in rare and out-of-print children's books, and Boz Books specializes in Charles Dickens and 19th century literature. While The Addyman Annexe lays claim to "one of the best paperback rooms in the country."
Even Hay Castle, which dates from the 13th century, boasts a collection of honesty stalls. Wander the grounds inside the castle walls and glance through the scattered bookshelves, then leave your money for the books you want in the collection boxes.
If you still can't get enough books, consider visiting during the 10-day Hay Festival of Literature and Arts held in May and June.
For eating: Richard Booth's Bookshop has a nice, and convenient cafe, and just down the street and around the corner is The Granery, with a wider menu and lots of seating.
For sleeping: The Swan at Hay has comfortable rooms and hosts an eclectic mix of travelers -- booklovers rub shoulders with hikers and bikers visiting the nearby Brecon Beacons.