It’s not hard to find English reading material in Brussels. In fact, most of the French and Dutch bookstores carry a range of English best-sellers. But where do you go if you are looking for something besides the latest Dan Brown thriller lamonte travel?
If you enjoy reading as much as I do, purchasing English books in Brussels can get expensive. Here are a few places to find good deals on books as well as more variety than the English corner of the major book stores.
The obvious choice for English books in Brussels is Waterstone’s. This UK chain has a fairly large store in Brussels and, along with the usual best-sellers, they have a decent selection of magazines, cookbooks, reference and children’s books. Waterstone’s isn’t cheap but they often have ‘buy 2 get one free’ deals and discounts on best-sellers.
Boulevard Adolphe Maxlaan 71-75
Not far from Waterstone’s, you can find Sterling Books. Sterling is a bit more expensive and doesn’t have as large a selection as Waterstone’s, but they do have some more unique choices. Their travel literature section is particularly good. As the largest English independent bookseller in Brussels, you can sleep easier knowing you aren’t lining the pockets of yet another chain store.
38, Rue Fossé aux Loups
If you have a car, or a lot of patience to ride the De Lijn bus, you can head out to Everberg and visit Stonemanor. Besides having all of the British food delicacies you may be craving, Stonemanor has a small selection of English books. While there aren’t as many books to choose from as at the actual bookstores, there are often decent discounts on older books, as they change their stock frequently. Even better is their selection of English magazines. The cooking section alone is worth the trip.
Twice a year (spring and fall), Stonemanor hosts one of the best book events in Belgium – the charity book sale. During this sale, second-hand books are donated and sold for a euro an inch! That’s right – you stack your books beside a ruler and pay by the inch. There is always a huge selection of paperbacks from the best-seller list as well as children’s books and DVDs.
Cook and Book
Cook and Book, as the name suggests, is both a book shop and a restaurant. The English section in Cook and Book is small and quite expensive but it is a comfortable place to browse. You can also find great English art and travel books if you are prepared to dive into the predominately French areas of the store. Even if you only browse, or stop for a bite to eat, Cook and Book is definitely worth a visit.
Cook and Book
Ave Paul Hymans 251
Filigranes is a predominantly French book store but there are a few reasons why it appeals to English readers. First, it has a coffee and snack bar – something that is seriously lacking in the Belgian book store scene. There is a decent selection of English paperbacks in the basement and a few English magazines can be found if you poke through the magazine section. The art and travel sections are definitely worth browsing. True, most of the books are in French but you can spot a few English gems as well.
Avenue des Arts 39
Once a year in Brussels, (more frequently if you are willing to travel to other cities), you can greatly increase your English library by visiting the book festival. This is run by a Dutch company and visits major cities in Belgium and the Netherlands. There are many English books available for extremely low prices. If you are looking for last season’s best-sellers, at up to 90% off, this is the place to go.
Other English Book Options
There are tons of second-hand bookstores in Brussels and most of the larger ones carry at least a limited selection of English books. If you are looking for bargains (and sometimes freebies), check out the expat forums in spring and fall when the annual expat migration is in full swing. Also, don’t forget that Amazon UK delivers to Belgium, usually very quickly.
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