In Zurich, Switzerland you can find the biggest collection of English language books in the city’s largest chainstore. But if you prefer to spend hours unstacking books, sifting through weighty old tomes and immersing yourself in the unmistakable scent of a good book, you’ll probably prefer these independent stores.
Calligramme, housed in a former police station, is one of the gems of Zurich’s old town and is one of the last in a dying breed of bookstores. Here, second hand books call every available surface home from chairs, the floor, and the overstocked shelves in what can only be described as organised chaos. Amongst the labyrinth of literature you’ll find fiction in the front room and artwork in the back.
Buchhandling Beer, one of Zurich’s oldest bookshops – dating back to 1832 -, can be found in the historical centre a short distance from St. Peter’s Church. The store’s story began around the same time as Zurich’s first university and its collection mirrors this history, with philosophy, politics and theology a common sight on the shelves. However the old mixes with the new and you can also find a wealth of modern fiction.
The owners of Sammelpunkt set out to create a shop for fans of fantasy fiction and that’s exactly what they’ve made. What you’ll find is a scatter-gun style shop packed with everything from basement price books and comics, to rare collectors’ items that’ll cost you somewhat more than the price of a coffee (even a Swiss one). Fairytales, adventure stories and Westerns are all kept under one roof and while they may not have much in the way of popular fiction, it’s nonetheless an immensely fascinating collection to browse.
Put your smartphone down and pick up a good old-fashioned paper map at the Travel Bookshop. Here you’ll find maps and guidebooks for almost anywhere in the world in various languages, with a good number in English. With a good selection of maps for Switzerland and its many trails, this is a good choice for hikers or walkers who want to stay disconnected during their journey into the Alps.
A Pile of Books is a rare find in Switzerland as it is devoted entirely to English books. Owner Daniel Nufer opened the store in 2007 and has amassed a fine collection of famous, lesser known and completely forgotten authors and titles. Outside of the big chain stores you are unlikely to find another bookstore packed with so many English language gems.