Opening hours: Mon-Wed 10 am-6 pm, Thu 10 am-9 pm, Fri-Sat 10 am-7 pm and the first Sunday of each month 1 pm-6 pm
From Paris’ Shakespeare and Company to San Francisco’s City Lights, independent bookstores have always breathed a nostalgic charm that no chain store can beat. We take a look at the best of Belgium‘s independents bravely weathering the digital revolution.
The reputation The Green Aquarius, located in the charming cobbled Wolstraat of Antwerp, has acquired over the past 40 years of its existence is impressive. Its authority and expertise in the fields of history, international politics, literature and the human sciences are undisputed. A friendly cooperation with the university keeps the students and professors streaming in, while children get a reading corner all of their own. The store believes that a wide variety – including books in other languages – is key, and annually shines a spotlight on a deserving book they believe got ignored by the mainstream media by awarding it De Groene Waterman Prize.
Opening hours: Mon-Sat 9:30 am-6 pm
De Groene Waterman, Wolstraat 7, Antwerp, Belgium, +32 3 232 93 94
If you’re tired of hanging around the ‘other languages’ section in stores or picking up books with magnificent covers but not being able to read their dust jackets, step inside Sterling Books. The international team of Belgian anglophiles and straight-up Americans – who design their own original bookmarks for you to use – are always happy to share their recommendations and provide you with the English or American newspaper of your choosing.
Opening hours: Mon-Sat 10 am-6:30 pm
Sterling Books, Wolvengracht 23, Brussels, Belgium, +32 2 223 62 23
The oldest bookstore in Bruges, The Heron popped up near the end of the 19th century at just the right time, when illiteracy in the medieval city was incredibly high (40 percent) compared to the rest of the country. Today, the family business has expanded quite a bit. Next door at number 13, their specialized travel bookshop has opened its doors, selling guides in various languages, pocket dictionaries, globes, atlases, and all sorts of other gadgets that make globetrotters salivate. Even a book outlet was established, yet the over 125-year-old shop has never lost its warm domestic touch; the old family living room upstairs was recently turned into a literary salon.
With a rich family history dating back to the Second World War, a roomy top floor attracting artists of all kinds and a success that resulted in the opening of another shop, Vervier’s Au Fil d’Ariane (or ‘The Breadcrumb) could easily be called the Heron’s Walloon counterpart. Look for the difference in the profound expertise of all things beautifully drawn, children’s literature and comic books alike.
Various Locations in Belgium
By Nana Van de Poel