A Book Lover's Guide to Tbilisi

© Ben Garratt / Unsplash
© Ben Garratt / Unsplash
Photo of Baia Dzagnidze
Writer13 April 2018

Besides historical sights, incredible architecture, and a bustling dining scene, Tbilisi is a great place for book lovers. Here, you can find several bookshops (English-language versions available), literature museums, and even cafes where you can sit down with your own book or something of the venue and enjoy a peaceful afternoon tea.

Pick up a book to learn more about Georgia

First and foremost, do a bit of a research and find a perfect book to understand the country. We have compiled a list of the several English-language books that will help you learn more about Georgia’s history, culture, traditions, and its recent past.

Prospero’s Bookshop

Don’t worry if, for whatever reason, you didn’t bring a book on your trip to Georgia. Prospero’s Bookshop is the oldest English language bookstore in Tbilisi having a wide range of genres you can choose from. The average price of books is between GEL$15-35 (US$6.25-14.58). Tucked behind the Rustaveli Avenue, the bookshop and the cafe are situated in a small courtyard creating a perfect, relaxing atmosphere to have a nice coffee, piece of a cake, and a good book to spend your free afternoon.

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Biblus Gallery

Biblus Gallery is a chain of Georgian bookstores that has a section of English and Russian language books. You can find classics as well as contemporary writers. The books are cheaper here compared to Prospero’s Bookshop, with an average price of GEL$8 (US$3.33), however, the selection might not be as good as that at Prospero’s, but it’s worth checking out. You can even sit down at a reading corner and skim through the book you’re thinking of buying.

You can also check out our article of the independent bookstores in Tbilisi to go on a book hunt here.

Book Market

Toward the end of Rustaveli Avenue, almost near the Freedom Square, you might find book stalls displaying old books in Georgian or Russian languages, but sometimes you might be surprised to see odd English books too. However, do note that the sellers come out during spring and summer when the weather gets warmer.

National Parliamentary Library

In order to use the library resources, you’ll need to become a member. However, you can still browse the building and admire its beautiful architecture. Opened in 1846 as Tbilisi Public Library, the venue has expanded over the years and today features six buildings in both Tbilisi and Kutaisi.

One of the halls of the National Parliamentary Library | © Gaeser / WikiCommons

The Book Museum

The National Parliamentary Library hides a book museum inside. It is the first permanent museum of the rarest books produced in the country. The museum is divided into four parts: rare books; the room of The Knight in the Panther’s Skin, a Georgian medieval poem published in Georgian and foreign languages; Ilia Hall, dedicated to Ilia Chavchavadze, writer, public figure and one of the founders of the national movement in the 19th century; and Marie-Félicité Brosset room – ultra-modern repository equipped with appropriate climate control technology. You can visit the museum on Monday to Friday from 10 a.m to 6 p.m.

Museum of Georgian Literature

The museum displays unique examples of old and contemporary Georgian literature as well as articles describing cultural heritage of foreign countries – manuscripts, archives, memorial belongings of well-known Georgian and foreign writers, plus paintings and graphics of local and foreign artists, photographs, bibliographical gems, and rare audio-video records.

Stalin’s Secret Underground Publishing House

Even though this is not an entirely book-themed sport, it is quite interesting to visit. The secret underground publishing house existed between 1903 and 1906 and printed nearly 300,000 newspapers, pamphlets, and brochures in Georgian, Russian, and Armenian languages and contained Soviet Propaganda.

One of the hallways displaying examples of the Soviet propaganda | © Baia Dzagnidze

Book Corner Cafe

Tbilisi has two branches of Book Corner cafes. Both have a pleasant and friendly atmosphere for you to enjoy your book with your favorite beverage or during lunch. The walls are filled with literary quotes, while the menu is printed in a book.

Art House

Art House is the new addition to the dining scene in Tbilisi. This multifunctional space incorporates various restaurants and bars. One of them, Publica, features a small library with the majority of books being in the English language. You can come here from 12 p.m., choose a book, and sit down in comfortable lounge-style sofas and get lost in the book. If you’d like to catch up on your work, they have high-speed internet and offer the co-working space free of charge.

Bookshelves at Publica | © Courtesy of Art House

And once you get hungry, you can order delicious burger sliders, shrimp tempura, Asian snacks, and various pizzas.

Books Cafe

Bookworms will like this cafe because it offers a wide range of books in the English language to its visitors. Here, you can find both old and new publications of different genres. It’s home-like atmosphere and friendly staff makes the place a great venue in which to spend an afternoon.

Begemot Coffee Books

Begemot, located in the center of Tbilisi, combines a cafe and a bookstore. You can come here to buy a book, browse through their shelves, order a nice coffee, and enjoy a decent yet light lunch. Also, if you are into comic books, they have several on display as well. The price of the books ranges between GEL$5-20 (US$2.08-8.33), and if you have a book that you don’t want anymore, you can swap it for a new one.