Literary Cities

The following are the world's main literary/book cities – largely from the perspective of the Western Canon.

What makes a city literary? Well, it depends on who you ask, of course, but you asked me, so I'll give you my three criteria:

  • Writers have lived and written there, at least at some point in their lives.
  • More importantly, writers have written the city into their works.
  • The third criterion a bit more "meta," so to speak, but I still think it is necessary. It is that the city has had (or still has) at least a moderately lively publishing industry, a number of bookstores, and more generally, has served (or currently serves) as a "meeting place" for ideas.

The list below is several dozen strong, but if you'd like a (much) shorter one, featuring only literary superstar cities, here are the top five I would go with: New York, London, Paris, St. Petersburg, and Buenos Aires.

And now for the bigger picture.