Thursday, July 11, 2013

My Brussels: Bouqinerie Thomas

The life of a book-lover in Brussels is a tough one. I would ideally use the local libraries but their English-language selection is non-existent. English-language books are not routinely sold in the French and Flemish bookshops. There is a branch of Waterstones here, but the mark-up is obscene, making Amazon the only real option for affordable books

But hope is not lost. Ladies and gentleman, I give you: Bouquinerie Thomas.

It looks like a French-language second-hand bookshop, but head through to the back and you'll find a whole wall dedicated to books in English. There are small politics/history/poetry/reference sections, but the bulk is novels. Most books are priced around €2-3 but they are very occasionally a little pricier - up to €8-10. There's a huge range - Chaucer to Shakespeare to Thomas Hardy to Barbara Taylor Bradford to Susan Howatch to Victoria Hislop to Ben Elton to Jilly Cooper and lots of authors I've never heard of. They also buy books, so you could treat it as more like a subscription library than a bookshop, bringing back books for resale after reading them. All in, it's a far more cost-effective way to enjoy books than buying them new.

I find browsing the shelves a curiously relaxing and ground experience. All the new adventures waiting dormant between their covers. It's so quiet and so calm. I couldn't ever trade my library for the equivalent in ebooks, I enjoy the experience of handling books as physical objects. Especially second hand - the previous readers and what they took, and what they left - messages, notes, bookmarks.

For Bruxellois - Bouqinerie Thomas is at 13 Rue Froissart, near Place Jourdan, and is open until 19h on weekdays. They only purchase books by appointment.


  1. Sounds like a real haven, now you need to find the perfect café just round the corner...

    Eleanor x

    1. As it happens, there's a patisserie serving coffee only a few steps away... :)



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