After you’ve exhausted your copy of Where Berlin, your vacation’s going to need more reading material. Buchwurm Lauren Oyler recommends her essential English-language bookstores.
Get warm and cozy with a new novel from one of Berlin's English bookstores.
You wouldn’t think of the German capital as a hub for the English literary scene, but Berlin’s ever-growing expat population has been supplying the city’s anglophones with English-language bookstores, launches, and readings for decades. As the weather gets colder, there are few better ways to spend an afternoon than browsing the bookshelves – Berlin’s wellearned reputation for bohemianism means you may even run into a writer or two. Taking up a sunny street corner on Friedrichshain’s bustling Warschauer Straße is Shakespeare and Sons (p.27), the Berlin branch of the original English bookstore based in Prague. Roman and Laurel, the husband-andwife team behind the counter, retained some of the former East German Buchladen’s original mid-century aesthetic when they transformed the location into the bright, airy bookshop/café it is today. Baked fresh on site daily, Laurel’s authentic, water-boiled bagels draw as much of a crowd as the store’s extensive selection of classics, philosophy, and contemporary literary fiction and bestsellers. Slathered with thick
schmear and washed down with a cup of Third Wave coffee, the bagels are without a doubt the best in Berlin. A short tram ride will drop you at Prenzlauer Berg’s Saint George’s (Wörther Str. 27, www.saintgeorgesbookshop.com), where the towering selection of used fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and rare books could rival shops in any English-speaking country. Paul, the owner, is always up for a friendly chat or offering pitch-perfect recommendations, and like Shakespeare and Sons, they often host readings and book launches for both established and emerging authors. For magazines, Mitte’s Do You Read Me?! (Auguststr. 28, www.doyoureadme.de) is small but packed with periodicals both worldrenowned and completely obscure. It’s all too easy to lose hours flipping through their stock, which focuses on everything from fashion to literature to cooking to travel to art to politics, with a small corner reserved for books as well. In Kreuzberg, you’ll find Motto (Skalitzer Str. 68, www.mottodistribution.com), a former frame factory that acts as distributor for international zines, art books, small-run printings, and other treasures you won’t find elsewhere.
“Berlin’s expat population has supplied anglophones with English-language bookstores .”