In a city crying out for a cultural revival, there aren’t many independent bookshops competing with mainstream stores. A few people, however, have taken up the challenge and opened little nooks that offer an escape from mainstream book trends. Here are the best independent bookshops in Beirut.
Opened in September 2016, Aaliya’s is a meeting place for book lovers to socialize. Named after a character in Rabih Alammedine’s book An Unnecessary Woman, the shop boasts a collection of Lebanese authors writing in English. The owners started out with a 1000 titles and the collection has grown with customer recommendations. The owner’s aim is to create a literary atmosphere by hosting book club and story-telling night. Aaliya’s is more than just a store; it is a community, too.
A little nook off Jeanne D’arc Street in Hamra, The Little Bookshop is every literature major’s dream. Opened in 2014, the space is managed by Adib Rahhal, who is always there and ready to talk books with a fellow literature lover. Rahhal makes a point of handpicking the titles on display in his shop, thus setting it apart from mainstream book dealers. The curated collection is mainly classical with an emphasis on beautiful book covers. Wander in to this haven, enjoy a great conversation and buy a life-changing book.
The owner of Papercup opened the store in 2009, frustrated with the lack of curated cultural shops in Beirut. It hosts many book launches and magazine re-issues. Enjoy a cup of coffee surrounded by the best art, photography, culture and fashion, and shop for beautiful stationary and magazines at this cozy neighborhood spot in the heart of Beirut.
Small and homey, Uncles Joe’s is the place to be if you want a book with a history. Opened in 2009, the second-hand bookshop was an attempt to reignite people’s passion for reading. It offers a wide selection of used books, just waiting for you to pick up and give them a new home. You never know what historical gem you may find!
Halabi is a small family-operated bookshop in Hamad Stree, Beirut. It sells a large selection of both Arabic and English books on various topics. The vintage shop has a great atmosphere, and the owners’ love of books will encourage you to become a repeat customer.