The Best English-Language Bookshops Abroad
If Kindles aren’t your thing, reasonably-priced English language bookshops can be difficult to find. Whether you’re after an ancient bookshop stacked to the rafters with dusty old classics or a modern bookshop featuring the latest English bestseller, we’ve selected the best five English language bookshops worldwide to get you started. What’s more, most of our chosen bookshops don’t just sell books – they are crucial hubs for you to meet and talk to other expats. So, give yourself an hour to explore, head to these bookish idylls, order a cup of tea, check out the flyers advertising the weekly book club, and thumb through book after book after book…
Shakespeare and Company 37 Rue de la Bucherie, Paris, France
You’ll find books crammed in wherever there’s space – in the aisles, triple stacked on the shelves, on steps and chairs. Bespectacled readers, using a stack of hardback books as seats, are tucked into every available cranny. On the ground floor, there are brand new and in-print titles, while the upstairs is a warren of second-hand volumes on anything from Hemingway to Sophocles. You can spend hours browsing, reading and reflecting.
Dasa Book Café – Khlong Toei, Bangkok 10110, Thailand
Dasa Book Café is one of Bangkok’s most popular second-hand bookshops. If you fancy a break from the hectic bustle of Bangkok, you’ll find gentle music, coffee and tasty cakes, and over 12,000 books crowding the shelves. If you know exactly what you want, they also feature all of their stock online so that you can check it out before you waste your time getting there. What’s more, if you want to meet people, they host a monthly book club for Westerners and Thais alike.
American Book Centre - Spui 12, 1012 XA Amsterdam, Netherlands
Head to the American Book Centre – or ABC – to find a fantastic range of books and English magazines, all conveniently organised. What’s more, this is no ordinary bookshop but a real social hub. There’s a huge number of ways to make friends in the community, from attending book-signings and conferences, to participating in writers’ workshops and even taking a yoga course. Rough sections of a huge tree lend the shop the feel of a real tree house.
The Book Attic – Cockloft, 2 Elgin Street, Central, Hong Kong
Second-hand, affordable English bookshops are in short supply in Hong Kong, but thankfully The Book Attic has come to your rescue. It’s a charming little shop packed with over 5,000 titles with an owner who – as any self-respecting bookshop owner should be– is passionate about books and reading. With the famed ability to transform any dog-eared book she’s given, she also runs a book club and poetry evenings. If you’re after a particular title, you can also add it to the wish list, sent to all members every month.
The Bookworm – Building 4, Nan Sanlitun Road, Chaoyang District, Beijing 100027, China
A bookshop, library, bar, restaurant and events space – this library has it all. Whether you’re after a good book (and there are over 15,000 lining the walls), a cosy space to catch up with friends over an espresso and salad, or a place to meet new friends (and the odd eminent author), then head to The Bookworm. In the evening, you can bring your book up to the roof terrace for a cocktail, or if you’re still in Beijing in March then make sure you check out the Bookworm’s very own International Literary Festival. They also have branches in Suzhou and Chengdu.
Do you have a favourite English language bookshop you’d recommend to other expats? Let us know!