If, like me, you have exhausted your home supply of English literature and are not yet up to speed on Chinese characters, then finding a good English language book to read is a necessity in this foreign city. Hangzhou is a city famous for its breathtaking scenery and tourism but not necessarily known for its abundance of English language books.
As the late artist and poet John Ruskin said, “A book worth reading is worth buying.” So here are the few places in Hangzhou where you can buy and read a worthy English book or two.
1) The Foreign Language Book Store 浙江外文书店 View In Map
As the common saying goes, “never judge a book by its cover.” In this case don’t judge the shop by its name, as this three-storey foreign language bookstore predominantly specialises in two languages: Chinese and English.
The English section situated to the right on the first floor is bigger than expected and in it you will find a wealth of choices. From recipe books to classics, there are books to suit all tastes and whilst some genres may be limited, the titles themselves speak volumes.
For those with a sweet tooth there are a handful of appetisers such as the 500 Cupcakes and Muffins book, and for those of us who are learning Chinese and have limited time, the book entitled 15 Minute Chinese will certainly qualify.
An A-Z of Lonely Planet books, the vital dictionary or two and a number of Travel in China guides are available as well as a large variety of Chinese learning materials and Chinese culture books, some of which are available in other limited languages.
The third floor not only has a very small section dedicated to children’s books, but it also has a delightful coffee shop where you can bury your nose in your chosen book and treat yourself to a cake or two…
With prices ranging from 20 RMB to 200 RMB, a selection of science fiction, romance, thrillers and classical novels can all be found in this noteworthy venue – so take a leaf out of my book and go and visit the Foreign Language Book Store now.
Add: 446 Fenqi Lu, Hangzhou
地址: 杭州市凤起路 446号
Tel: 0571 8506 9826
Opening Hours: Mon-Sun, 09:00-21:00
Getting there: Intersection of Fenqi and Yan’an Lu
2) Boku Super BookstoreView In Map
Don’t make the same mistake as me and head out to the Tianmushan store, as it no longer exists – maybe they are refurbishing but peering through the glass there was not a book in sight. Instead visit Boku in Wener Lu. At first glance, this three-storey venue is impressive, bright and airy like a modern day library and adorned with an array of colourful spines. However, in hindsight there is only a small narrow section dedicated to English language books (four shelves to be precise) half of which are in both Chinese and English. Here you can purchase an old classic for only 10 RMB or a more up-to-date title for under 120 RMB.
I won’t mention the children’s English fiction as it doesn’t really exist; maybe a few titles are lurking about. There is however a section dedicated to learning English from a Chinese child’s perspective – a variety of books which would suit both nationalities. This latter section is very cleverly placed next to a selection of toys, games, art utensils and other gifts. It is a shame that there are not as many English books for sale as there are toys.
A small café rests on the first floor so if you are passing by then this bookstore is worth a visit not only for its limited English language books but also for its toy section and coffee.
Address: 38 Wener Lu, Hangzhou
地址: 杭州市文二路38 号
Tel: 0571 8883 1111
Opening Hours: Mon-Sun, 09:00-21:00
3) Zhejiang Library 浙江图书馆 View In Map
This is a place where you would expect to find books. Zhejiang Library, located opposite the Yellow Dragon Stadium, also has a large selection of English ones. A room on the second floor is where you will find a variety of fiction, but the large majority of books here are actually factual, covering numerous subjects such as Law, Economics, Medicine and the Arts.
The staff is particularly helpful and one lady spoke very good English; she told me that in order to join the library you need to show your passport and pay 150 RMB. You will then be allowed to take three English books out at any one time for a period of one month. However, if you are unable to return your books after the month, you will be charged 0.1 RMB per day for the first 10 days and 0.2 RMB thereafter.
You can avoid these light penalties by renewing after 15 days and this can be done online or at the library itself. An electronic book-dropping machine is located at the main gate.
If you want to avoid the daily hustle and bustle do head inside this library and see what is left on the shelf.
Address: 73 Shuguang Lu, Hangzhou
Opening Hours: Mon-Sun, 09:00-17:00
Getting there: Bus No 23, 130, 101 and Y6
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Keywords: where to buy hangzhou books Hangzhou English books Hangzhou books
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