Our Correspondent Laura offers up some great places to find English books in Brussels for a bit of summer literature lovin‘.
As an English teacher as a ‘day job’, it’s fair to say that I need a regular fiction fix to sustain me. And with the long summer holidays approaching, my thoughts have already turned to stocking up on stories to last me the next few weeks.
Cheeseweb recommended some superb English language bookshops a while ago – but what if you’ve exhausted these literary haunts? Well, reader, you needn’t fear; simply have a look at the recommendations below.
Pele-Mele (Boulevard Maurice Lemonnier 55, 1000, Brussels) Quite simply, this is the best bookshop I’ve found since arriving in Brussels. In the Ixelles store (there’s another in Waterloo), the ground floor is stuffed full of records, CDs and DVDs in various languages, plus French and Dutch literature and enormous glossy coffee table tomes. Upstairs has a well-organised English language section. There’s a bit of everthing with sci-fi, non-fiction, poetry, romance and thriller sections sitting alongside more generic ‘fiction’. You can also sell books here but be warned, they’re very choosy; you won’t shift any copies of the Da Vinci Code onto these guys.
Cook and Book (Av. Paul Hymans 251, 1200, Brussels) I have a confession to make: I haven’t actually been here yet. However, a colleague of mine is so ardent in his enthusiasm for this bookshop-cum-restaurant that I couldn’t leave it out. And just take a look at the website! Everything he’s told me about about the themed areas – including an ‘English’ section with huge Chesterfield leather armchairs, Victorian-style carved bookcases and a swirly carpet like my Grandma’s – looks too good to be true. However, he assures me it is; and he’s a trustworthy sort. I hear the food is pretty impressive, too. Make an afternoon – or perhaps a day – of it. [Editor’s Note: For more info, read our discovery of Cook & Book]
Tropismes (Galerie des Princes 11, 1000, Brussels) Prepare to be astonished: this book shop is a veritable feast for the eyes, with lavish plasterwork, enormous mirrors and a huge neon sign all housed in an elegant 19th century arcade. There’s plenty of French literature and also a small selection of English books, but it’s worth a trip for the surroundings alone. Plus for the fact that I saw a dog in there, just minding his own business. Clearly it’s so gorgeous even the canines need to get in on the browsing action.
The British School of Brussels (Leuvensesteenweg 19, 3080, Tervuren) hosts two major book sales a year and they’re open to the public. Hop on the 44 tram to Tervuren station to catch out some bargains at the Christmas Bazaar (usually the first Saturday in December) and the annual car-boot sale (usually the last Saturday in May, but check the school website for updates). There are thousands of books to choose from and, although they’re not perfectly categorised (for ‘perfectly’ read ‘remotely’), half of the pleasure comes from trawling through the boxes to see what you might unearth. The price you pay is determined by the height of your pile using a nifty wooden measuring device: a pleasing novelty.
Treasure Trove (Brusselsesteenweg 7, 3080, Tervuren – closed on Mondays) Another trip on the 44 tram is in order to visit this little beauty of a bookshop but, believe me, it’s well worth it. The Treasure Trove team specialises in books for children and young adults, although there’s a small but carefully-chosen range for adults, too. The staff pride themselves on the shop’s ‘family feel’: during term time you can pop in for storytime and crafting sessions, with coffee for parents, suggested reading lists for different age groups and an ordering service. The decor inside is magical – like walking into a toy box.
So readers, have you read anything good recently? And what’s on your summer reading list?
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