I bought some books in Berlin. Because, of course. I feel a little guilty because I read less than half a book while on holiday, but on the other hand, lovely new books! They’re all translations from German and all look great. I only knew of one English-language bookshop in the city before our holiday, but we did stumble across a few more bookshops with small English sections.
First up was a complete stumbleupon. We went to Nollendorfstrasse in search of the house where Christopher Isherwood lived from 1929 to 1933. I have loved the two Isherwood books I’ve read and keep meaning to read more. It seemed like it was meant to be when we found a bookshop on the corner of the street, either so new or so low-key that it is simply labelled “Bücher”. Books are piled up on every surface and the selections on display at the front of the shop are excellent – but they’re all in German aside from a very small handful in English and French. Which is fair, it being in Germany and all, but I was a little sad not to find a copy of an Isherwood book there – that would have been so perfect.
But we did find the Isherwood plaque, which I was pretty happy about. There’s also a secondhand bookshop in the ground floor of the building he lived in, but it was closed when we were there. From a peek through the windows it looked pretty antiquarian.
Our second find came thanks to Google, but it was a search for good breakfast places, not bookshops. Das Literaturhaus in the fancy neighbourhood Charlottenburg is a venue that hosts literary events in the main house, plus has a lovely cafe called Wintergarten in its conservatory and garden, and a bookshop called Kohlhaas & Co in the basement. Both the latter are excellent. The shop is really well organised. It has a beautiful books section, a sizeable poetry section and a bookcase of English and French books. A good chunk of these are Berlin-related hence two of the books above. (Incidentally, we saw a lot of beautiful book collections in German bookshops. I think it might be a thing done with current books as well as classics there.)
Finally, the one bookshop I had on my list to visit on our holiday is Shakespeare & Sons. It is primarily English-language and a sizeable shop. We didn’t eat there but the all-day breakfast looked amazing. There’s also a study room lined with secondhand books in several languages and a very cool system of drawers for displaying books on the street.
I now wish I’d done more research beforehand on Berlin authors as I’m sure I missed a whole bunch of literary hotspots. Anyone have any to recommend for my next visit?