Brussels by the Book


03 Dec 2010, 05:12 Last Updated: 08 Apr 2014, 11:04

You're a real bookworm, but you don't always know where to discover your favourite books in Brussels? BrusselsLife has therefore buckled down to the task and is offering you an inventory of the places in the capital where you can quench your thirst for reading. For sure, you will find here the book of your dreams.

General Bookshops

At Filigranes, you'll quickly forget the traditional bookshop in order to benefit 100% from this living arena: dedication sessions, concerts on the superb grand piano, an impromptu sandwich while browsing through the newspaper, some delicious mint vervain to accompany the first pages of the novel that you're thinking of buying. And you can even enjoy all that on Sundays! Literature lovers will not fail to make a trek to the Quartier Latin where they will be able to appreciate the vast choice of classical literature, theatre and poetry.

The largest European bookshop chain needs no further introduction: the Fnac is of course to be found in Brussels both at the top floor of City2 and in the Toison d'Or gallery. In Uccle, a little detour via La Cigogne, which offers a little bit of everything on every subject: novels, latest innovations, a youth centre, art books and social science works. It's within the splendid setting of the Galeries Saint-Hubert that you will find Tropismes, an impressive mezzanine with an astonishing stucco ceiling will welcome you, revealing shelves of books plunging the reader into the felted environment of old nineteenth-century libraries. Founded in 1923 under the aegis of the Lebrun family, UOPC, while proposing all the traditional bookshop services, has acquired an enviable reputation for school handbooks and religious books.

And if Brussels frightens you, Calligrammes has been installed in the middle of Wavre for more than 30 years. It's good to linger there, to dream and chew the fat between the blockbusters of the new literary season and the firm's serendipitous discoveries.

In a Bookshop, Time Stands Stil

The Standaard Boekhandel is without question the foremost bookshop for the Flemish. The largest Belgian English-speaking bookshop is Waterstone's, a treat for the English teacher who finds there not only a jam-packed shelf of course books and learning methods, but also a host of Anglo-Saxon novels and topical books. To continue in the English language, Sterling Books is also to be found in Brussels, which delights the eye with an exceptional selection of more than 40,000 titles currently available on the British and American markets. Elementary, my dear Watson! The international literature house in Brussels is obviously Passa Porta, for literature is its very heart. Literature lovers and authors find each other there, a space where the ties between Dutch, French and so many other literatures are put forward, an impeccable venue for exchanging ideas on international literature.

At a stone's throw from the Place de la Justice in Brussels, there's a bookshop which comes as a bit of a surprise, both because of the variety of its books and by the coloured decoration consisting of Chinese kites, prints and statuettes. Plunge into the Chinese world of La Grande Muraille (The Great Wall) and be prepared to be astonished by this Asian atmosphere. If you have a thing for Spain, a quick hop to Punto y Coma, where you'll find not only works of Spanish authors in this bookshop run by a pure stock Hispanic, but also translated works, as well as numerous films.

The Librairie Gutenberg, the leading German language bookshop in Brussels since 1891, offers a wide range of Teutonic publications. Piola.libri is a must for all who would like to combine the discovery of Italian culture with literary and gastronomic escapism. On the menu: books of various genres and by Italian authors in their original versions, as well as refined food products ideally suited for the lunch break or the evening aperitif. A serene atmosphere awaits you at the Librairie Polonaise of Saint-Gilles, where you will find the most beautiful not-to-be-missed classics of Slav literature.

Atypical Bookshops

Words which are read alone, in silence, or which are murmured into your partner's ear, encourage minds and bodies sometimes more. Secret stories of prohibited alcoves, plilanderous and sensual encounters, the free corner of Lady Paname is as much an invitation to pleasure as to lovestruck gluttony. In your wildest dreams, have you ever dared to imagine a place where cuisine and literature go hand in glove? Cook and Book has done so for you! This genuine bookshop / restaurant concept has existed since 2006 and includes several different worlds: "traditional" bookshop, restaurant, "musical" bookshop, and even a floor arranged for children. And all that takes place next door to Wolubilis. It's in a decor by Philippe Starck that Taschen proposes its famous collections in the Sablon area. A little gem to go and admire, no matter what!

Children have been honoured at Amstramgram for more than 30 years, with everything they need for colouring, creating, and imagining, in short free rein to the imagination of little... and large. A journey in mind or a craving for a beautiful book in the colours of the world? L'Anticyclone des Açores blows a warm wind over Brussels: travel guides, road maps, rambling maps, foreign-language lexicons and art books on various civilisations... In short, this Ali-Baba's Cave is devoted to travel and its many discoveries! Edwige Schilling.

Bookshops Bookshops