I must confess, I buy most of my books from Amazon. It’s convenient and delivery is fast. I’m probably making the puritans gasp, but Amazon works for me, when I know exactly what I’m looking for. However, you can’t really browse Amazon in the same way that you can wander around a store thumbing novels until a cover catches your eye or a name leaps out at you.
I love The Munich Readery for several reasons. It’s a quaint second-hand book shop, with leather chairs and hot drinks. I think Sex and the City’s Carrie once said she loves library books because of that musty smell, and I can empathize. There’s something precious about yellowed pages, a creased bind and finding certain passages underlined in pencil. What did the previous reader take from the novel? Why did certain paragraphs stand out for them? That’s the main reason I haven’t yet bought a Kindle – however practical they are, there’s nothing like a well-read second-hand book.
I could spend hours poring over the selection of books in The Readery, and I do enjoy pulling a well-read book off the shelves and flicking through it with a cup of tea. All books are in good nick, and when the owners take a trip to the US, they specifically choose second-hand books in good condition.
The Munich Readery also hosts regular events – astrological readings, a monthly book club and open readings from local authors – Lisa Yarger and her partner John Browner have made a real community out of the store, since its opening in 2006. Sign up to their newsletter to get up-to-date information about their events.
There’s another English-language bookstore in Schwabing – Words’ Worth, at Schellingstr. 3, who stock a fairly large selection of audio books. Over the festive period, Words’ Worth also offers typically English Christmas treats such as Christmas puddings and brandy butter. The store is mostly aimed at academics, as you’d expect from somewhere so close to the university. It doesn’t have that cosy feel of The Munich Readery, but it does offer a good selection of books.
If you’re looking for brand-new books, try Hugendubel near the Literaturhaus. The larger Hugendubel store at Marienplatz also has a few English-language books, but far less choice than on Salvatorstr.. It doesn’t have the same homely feel as The Readery, but there are a good choice of contemporary and classic novels on offer.
For all latest glossy magazines, Hauptbahnhof is your best bet – though if you read a particular magazine on a regular basis, it’s probably worth getting a subscription, as imported prices are pretty ridiculous. I’m sure I once saw Vogue there for over 10 Euros.
So if Amazon has taken the magic out of choosing a book, why not try one of these little gems next time you feel like curling up on the sofa with a hot chocolate and a good story. And with the current temperatures in Munich (-10°c, really?!), what could be better?