In 2013, Bangkok took on the title of UNESCO’s World Book Capital
, awarded to cities
for the presence of a vibrant literary culture accessible to widely varied demographics, interests, ages, and philosophies. The rise of independent bookstores buoyed this title, breaking the chain-store model by specialising in sourcing rare and antique books mixed in with collections of contemporary titles.
These are the most distinctive shops flocked to by book lovers of all kinds.
Dasa Book Café
Courtesy of Dasa Book Cafe
“Book lovers are slaves to print.” This is the slogan of Dasa Books – which itself translates to “slave” – and its concept echoes through its multi-level collection. The quirky shop houses more than 22,000 books, carefully organised in a thrice-weekly updated “Dasa-Base” that lists the books in stock by category, author, title, and price. The owners seek out rare and unusual finds, as well as storied favourites, treating visitors to hours of browsing and thumbing through pages in a number of languages, with the help of very friendly staff.
Dasa Books – 714/4 Sukhumvit Rd, Khwaeng Khlong Tan, Khet Khlong Toei, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10110
Neilson Hays Library
Housed in a white, antique and European-style building amidst pleasant bushy gardens, this library offers one of the widest collections of English titles in Bangkok. Literary lovers will be excited by the impressive range of contemporary novels and the amazing array of magazines and newspapers. The library is adjoined to a glass house where the relaxing Garden Café and Gallery are located, offering quality coffee and holding inspiring exhibitions to boot.
Neilson Hays Library – 195 Surawong Road, Bang Rak, Bangkok, Thailand.
The Reading Room
Courtesy of The Reading Room
A non-profit contemporary art resource centre, The Reading Room is a modern, chic concept library housing a collection of art and culture books from all over the world. While not for sale, the lounge has more than 1,000 titles for book lovers to peruse and enjoy, ranging from a contemporary Thai art archive to art history and theory books, exhibition catalogs, art magazines, and more. The space also hosts regular events, talks, screenings, and workshops for Bangkok’s illustrious creative crowd.
The Reading Room – 19 Si Lom, Khwaeng Silom, Khet Bang Rak, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10500
The Book Fairies Bangkok
While not a physical store, The Book Fairies is an international movement that gained traction in Bangkok in 2017. It’s like being a part of the world’s largest book club, with some geocaching elements thrown into the mix. Participants leave copies of books in public places for other literary lovers to discover, like BTS stations, cafes, or tucked away in parks and plazas. Once lucky readers finish their find, they pass it along through the city. Get started by checking out their Facebook page to see where the latest treasures are hidden!
This article was originally written by Wingyan Chan and has since been updated.