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Stauffacher Bookseller (Ryffligässchen 8, 031 313 6666) is the largest in Switzerland, so it’s no wonder it boasts such an expansive offering of English titles in its west wing. But it’s the cozy second-floor Café Littéraire with its large non-smoking section and adorable outdoor terrace that really won us over. Sit and read peacefully or chat with other book lovers over a glass of wine and mostly organic cafe cuisine. Bonus: There are also mini-Stauffachers at the Bern and Fribourg train stations, each with an English-language wall if you want to grab a novel on the go.
Orell Füssli – The Bookshop
German-speaking Switzerland’s leading bookseller also boasts a huge three-story English Bookshop (Bahnhofstrasse 70, 044 211 0444)—the undisputed literary source for expats in Zurich. Among its impressive offerings: over 30,000 English titles, plus DVDs and a dedicated children’s department with readings the first Saturday of every month. It also draws big-name book reading and signing events with bestselling authors for the grown-ups.
Numerous locations, payot.ch
This Lausanne-born publishing house and bookseller leads the francophone market, but it also has an impressive commitment to providing a sizable English-language selection—most notably at its international store in Geneva (Rue Chantepoulet 5, 022 731 8950). In all, there are 12 locations throughout the Swiss Romande plus one store in Zurich’s Old Town (which does carry English books but they’re interspersed with the others).
Off The Shelf
This small English bookshop in the Plainpalais neighborhood (15 blvd Georges Favon, 022 311 1090) was founded by an expat and is run by native English speakers who will happily give you advice on what to read. The shop also hosts regular book readings and signings with authors, many of them locally based, which has made it a hub of the Anglophone literary community in Geneva.
Books, Books, Books
The only specialist English bookshop in Lausanne stocks thousands of titles and will happily special order any other book. Located in the town center, this little shop has also been known to hold story and rhyme time for the little ones.
Since 2002, Basel’s international set has been able to turn to Bergli (Rümelinsplatz 19, 061 373 2777) in the heart of town for English books and DVDs. This self-proclaimed “dedicated team of book lovers” prides itself on personal service and has built a loyal community with its bimonthly book discussions and “talk parties.” Bergli is also a publishing house, promoting Swiss interest and intercultural books. Another option for English books in Basel is Bilder & Tanner (Aeschenvorstadt 2, 061 206 9999, biderundtanner.ch).
If it’s books on contemporary art you’re after, Kunstgriff (Limmatstrasse 270, 044 272 9066) is a winning choice—its cool factor the cherry on top of an impressive collection. Located inside the huge Löwenbräu-Areal industrial complex, there’s no sign for the bookstore visible from the street. Once you’re in, look for the giant sliding black door—and don’t mind the security guards, they’re just standing watch to protect the art in surrounding galleries. English books intermingled with German. Closed Mondays.