Every so often, I hear my friends say, ‘I really wish I read’ or ‘I want to start reading again’. Lament no more, a great place to start is a walk around these lovely bookstores. For seasoned readers, tablets and e-readers will never suffice. We still prefer to read physical copies of books, flipping through the pages and taking in the scent of new (or old) books. Going to these bookstores has the plus of exploring reading with booksellers who are consummate bibliophiles who take joy in the matching reader to writer. And that human component is an important part of the literary experience. We may not have a Waterstones or a Barnes and Noble store in Bangladesh, but we have these lovely nooks to get lost in.
Here’s a list of places in Dhaka where you can buy your next novel or add the latest to your collection:
1. Book Gallery
This is a little shop in New Market where I’ve been going since I was 12. Back then, it used to be called Book Web. This little bookstore offers a decent collection of originals at a reasonable price and hence my frequent visits without burning draining every bit of my small childhood allowance. Their space is much larger and more organized now than it used to be. Their collection has largely improved as well and they also have a Facebook page where they post updates on their collection!
2. Pathak Shamabesh
Our capital’s Shahbag can be considered as our very own book district because of the numerous independent bookstores in the area and a handful at Aziz Super Market. This is a must–visit for every bookworm in Dhaka. This 30+ year old bookstore houses a huge collection of both English and Bangla literature. What makes Pathak Shamabesh particularly stand out are their occasional book fair and festivals hosted in collaboration with publishers. Authors often visit and hold book signing events.
This is a relatively newfound gem. Though their classics collection is a bit disappointing, they boast by far the best collection of contemporaries I have found in Bangladesh. They have many new releases and many shortlisted books for the Man Booker Prize. They also have a rich collection of Bangla literature. I appreciated the detour from the mainstream Dan Brown and Lee Child collections that ususally populate Bangladeshi bookstores. My favourite part, you don’t have to buy the books to read. So, pick up a book, grab a seat, and read until the store closes (at 8pm).
This bookstore/library is originally from Chittagong. They have started their operations in Dhaka only last year. They have an exemplary collection of Bangla literature! Their most unique display is a little kids corner with many children’s books and comic books. You can comfortably release your inner Chacha Chowdhury fangirl! Baatighar is open from 10 am to 10 pm and they have a coffee corner. There is also a rooftop café on the Bishyo Shahittya Bhaban where you can get some snacks if you’re hungry after a long day of feeding your soul.
Address: Their Dhaka branch is situated in the already familiar Bishyo Shahittya Kendra building in Banglamotor. 17 Mymensingh Road, Bangla Motor (3.29 mi), Dhaka, Bangladesh 1000 .
5. Bengal Boi
With the slogan of ‘Boiyer Majhe Doob’ (Dive into Books), Bengal Boi–an initiative of Bengal Foundation was opened in November 2017. The ground floor has a rich collection of old books, which cannot be purchased, but each book can be exchanged with two old books. There is a stock of both English and Bangla books by local and international writers. There is a reading space, an open space on the ground floor and an indoor space to have coffee and snacks while indulging in the latest bestseller or art book.
Every bibliophile has that one bookstore they have a personal connection with. I remember going to Bookworm ever since I can remember. They were one of the very few bookstores that used to release Harry Potter books on their release day. Potterheads like me would flock to their then only outlet on Old Airport road on chilly winter mornings, just to get our hands on that fresh new and long awaited sequel. While other bookstores like Words and Pages have terminated their operations, Bookworm has only expanded. Now they have opened another outlet in Dhanmondi in collaboration with North End Coffee Roasters!
For a friendly, cosy reading and buying experience, head to this little corner. The English collection is extensive and the storekeepers are very helpful.
Address: Twin Peaks Complex, Old Airport Road, Tejgoan. Under the MIG 21 Fighter Jet & Eagle Statue. Or opposite Falcon Hall. (1.88 mi), Dhaka, Bangladesh 1215
3rd Floor, Kazi &Kazi Tower, Dhanmondi. Inside North End Coffee Roasters.
7. Boi Bochitra
This is a household name in Bangladesh. In addition to original paperbacks and hardcovers, they also offer a splendid variety of stationery supplies such as notebooks, journals, washi tapes, sticky notes and model papers, meeting our arts and crafts needs while we were growing up. Boi Bichitra has an edge over other bookstores in Bangladesh because of their many branches. There is a store in almost every area in the capital. So if you are suddenly hankering to buy some new life to put on your bookshelves find out the one nearest to you and head over!
Address: Some of the branches are:
Enjoy the significantly lower prices and an exponentially greater book inventory that you can enjoy in Bangladesh. So let’s peruse the aisles, experience the scent of new books, feel the pages and support our local indie bookstores. Even if all else fails, you can always head over to Nilkhet!