A Literary Lover: Where to Enjoy Books in Shanghai

A Literary Lover: Where to Enjoy Books in Shanghai
By Andrea Scarlatelli , eChinacities.com

Shanghai is a great place to be if you’re a lover of literature. And while technically English may not be the main language spoken or written here, there are still plenty of places to indulge your reading addiction in your language of choice. From literary tours to book clubs, there are multiple ways to make this city your literary haven. Read on for some ideas on how to release your inner bookworm – or how to simply spend a quiet, lazy Saturday afternoon.

1) Literary tours
For those who are interested in getting to know the authors behind the books, literary tours are a great way to learn the history of those who made a living putting words on pages. The Shanghai Community Center regularly schedules such walks around various parts of the city – Shanghai apparently produced a remarkable number of published authors. One such route takes you through Duo Lun Lu, “a showcase of Shanghai’s literary life in the 20’s and 30’s.” This includes Lu Xun (the pen name of Zhou Shuren), a man who many critics consider the father of modern Chinese literature. Some tour guide groups, such as Shanghai Flaneur, also offer literary-specific tours around the city. Call or visit the website to find the specific route that interests you the most, and prepare to spend an afternoon strolling and learning.

Shanghai Community CenterView In Map
Add:  2/F Green Hill Clubhouse, Lane 418 Jinxiu Dong Lu, Shanghai (near Luoshan Lu)
地址:  上海锦绣东路418弄2楼, 近罗山路
Tel: 021 33821770
Website: www.communitycenter.cn

Shanghai Flaneur
Tel: 021 13816034284     
Email: cwootliff@shanghai-flaneur.com
Website: www.shanghai-flaneur.com

2) Book clubs
What could be better for a literary lover than a group of people who want to talk about books, books, books? Book clubs were made for just such people and Shanghai offers a handful of different types. Shanghai Stuff prides itself on its relaxed attitude toward book club meetings and advertises itself as a group of people that likes to talk about books over a casual coffee. They meet every Saturday, but check out their website (and sign up for the group!) to keep updated on location. For those who really like to get involved, Glamour Bar has quickly built up a reputation as the go-to place for literary lovers. Their book club is actually conducted by Penguin Classics and regularly features author talks and readings along with group discussion. It costs 188 RMB to get in (it includes a three-course meal with coffee or tea), which just may be worth it for the more intense engagement participants experience. Go to their website to view their schedule and sign up.

Shanghai Stuff
Website: http://www.shanghaistuff.com/group/shanghaibookclub

Penguin Classics Lunch
Website: http://www.m-restaurantgroup.com/mbund/Upcoming-events.html
Reservations: 021 63509988

3) Book cafes
Organized tours or meetings may not be your thing, which is fine when you consider all the book cafes scattered across the city. Two of the best include Boonna, and L’s Book Cafe and Wine Bar. Boonna is a tad more sociable and has one of the best patios around. Books and magazines (in both English and Chinese) come purely from donations. You can spend quite a while browsing the selection, but it’s pure fun doing it. L’s Book Café & Wine bar is known for being underneath the apartment complex in which Eileen Chang (she of Lust, Caution fame) grew up in the 1940’s. This link is made obvious in the décor (which features her portrait and novels) but most impressively boasts a huge English and Chinese selection of modern(ish) books. This place makes it easy to get lost in a good book and a cup of coffee.

BoonnaView In Map
Add: 1690 HuaihaiZhong Lu, Shanghai (near Wuxing Lu)
地址:  上海淮海中路1690号, 近吴兴路
Tel: 021 64330835
Opening hours: 7:00-23:00

L’s Book Café and Wine BarView In Map
Add: 195 Changde Lu, Jing’an District, Shanghai (near West Nanjing Lu)
地址:  上海市静安区常德路195号, 近南京西路
Tel: 021 62499006
Opening hours: Sun, 12:00-22:00; Mon-Sat, 10:00-22:00

4) Book exchanges
It can be hard to get a good collection of books while living in Shanghai. On the one hand, it doesn’t make sense to spend a lot of money on a bunch of books you probably won’t want to have to ship back to your home country once you leave. On the other hand – you need reading material! Book exchanges are the perfect solution to this, as books are sold for super cheap and you can usually exchange them as often as you like. Bell Café & Bar in Tianzifang offers their selection of used books for 20 RMB each. If you buy one and bring it back (in “good condition”) within three months, you’ll get 10 RMB back. Or you can swap two of your books for one of theirs, or simply sell yours outright for 10 RMB. Glamour Bar also offers a book swap on the second Saturday of every month, right before their monthly M’s Literary Salon session.

Bell Café & BarView In Map
Add: No. 11 Lane 248 Taikang Lu, Shanghai (near Sinan Lu)
地址:  上海泰康路248弄11号, 近思南路
Tel: 021 13817778890     
Opening hours: Mon-Fri, 14:00-2:00; Sat-Sun, 11:00-2:00

Glamour BarView In Map
Add: 6/F, 5 Zhongshan Dong Yi Lu, Shanghai (near Guangdong Lu)
地址:  上海中山东一路5号6楼, 近广东路
Tel: 021 63509988
Opening hours: Daily, 17:00-late

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Keywords: literary tours in Shanghai where to buy books Shanghai book exchanges Shanghai book clubs Shanghai book cafes Shanghai


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