They say that a room without a book is like a body without a soul. Whether it's true or exaggerated, we can agree that books bring us a wellspring of knowledge and expand our personal horizon. They also allow us to travel without moving, to dream without sleeping, to de-stress without meds, and to awaken our inner passion without the external turbulence of our daily life.
If you are a bibliophile or a bookworm, you already know that the more we read, the more we want to know, and the more we want to explore. You also know that once we grab a good book, we make ourself a friend, and turning its last page feels sometimes losing that new friend. And we, as human beings, we are always in need to have good friends.
In a crowded city like Beirut, crying to revive its cultural aspect, there is a good number of excellent bookstores that offer a large variety of good books, some prone to grant you an escape from reality and some that anchor you in it with new perspectives. Whatever you are seeking, we have compiled for you this guide of 10 bookstores that are worth exploring in Beirut.
Frustrated by the lack of a cozy curated bookshop, Papercup opened in 2009 in the attractive traditional Mar Mikhael neighborhood of Beirut. Papercup's shelves are full of beautiful books of art, fashion, architecture, photography, and design.
This dedicated specialized bookshop hosts many launching events of new books and magazine re-issues. To perfect the scene, the store offers daily delightful cakes with a cup of coffee for you to enjoy while the staff search for your must-have novel with the sliding wooden ladder.
#2 Halabi Bookshop
This interesting bookshop started as a grocery store founded by Hussein Halabi in 1958 and was then turned into a family bookshop when his son Abdallah Halabi inherited. Located on Hamadi Street, the vintage shop floods with hundreds of books and magazines.
As Abdallah's passion for collecting books grew with time, they had to transform the messy small store into a masterpiece that manifested in the Summer of 2016. Abdallah and his daughter Lana worked really hard to spread the world about Halabi Bookshop, and they totally got what they desired.
#3 The Little Bookshop
A heavenly gem, this one-single-room bookstore opened in 2014 in Hamra Street and is managed by Adib Rahhal, who is the owner and also the sole employee. There is something unique about this bookstore that makes you feel welcomed and special as if you are visiting a friend.
See, for over 15 years, Rahhal dreamt of opening a house of literature. He loves this creation of his and shares his love with each visitor, always ready to discuss any literature book with a cup of tea or coffee. Book lovers feel at home in that treasure trove with Rahhal. The curated collection is mainly classical with a touch of beautiful covers that reflects classicism and exacts respect and admiration.
#4 Aaliya's Books
Named after a character in Rabih Alammedine’s book, An Unnecessary Woman, Aaliya's is a homely gem. The shop became a meeting place for book lovers for weekly readings. The uniqueness of this bookstore is that the curated collection is mainly English books of Lebanese authors.
Aaliya started with 1000 books, and the collection went on growing with people's recommendations. Located in Gouraud Street, the shop serves several Lebanese, British, and continental plates, which is another point of attraction of this bookstore.
#5 Uncle Joe
With a small space and cozy ambiance, Uncle Joe opened in 2009 to reignite people's passion for reading. By selling used books, it is your next place to visit if you are searching for a book with a great history.
The book you pick might be read by someone of past generations who lived in a remote village that you might don't know existed in Lebanon. The shop offers an extensive collection of books from French novels and Arabic cookbooks to English-language fashion books.
#6 Book Bazar
From English novels to Arabic philosophy and French history, you will find your next must-read in this hidden gem in Sidani Street. Books are overflowing the place, so you will have to lose yourself in the wonders of these books next time you visit the Bazar.
The owner, a bibliophilic, has been a longtime book collector and opened the shop over a decade ago. To be noted, not only this place sells books, but it also buys them.
#7 Beirut Books
Situated in downtown Beirut, Beirut Books is a modern bookstore that offers a diverse collection of books. Their curated collection of Arabic books is interesting.
What gives this bookstore a big plus is that extra caring service to meet your quest. If you don't find the book you are seeking at their place on a given day, you will find it the next day at your doorstep, safely delivered.
#8 Dar Bistro and Books
Dar Bistro and Books is an English-only bookstore located in the heart of Hamra in Beirut. Dar, which means both home and gathering, has a colorful garden and provides heartwarming food, living up to its name.
With a selection of literature, graphic novels, photography, and cookbooks, it's easy to sit there reading comfortably without feeling the time. Dar is also a house for social activities throughout the year, such as book launching, crafts marketing, and concerts.
#9 Antoine Librairie
Older than the Lebanese Republic itself, Librairie Antoine was first opened in 1933 by Antoine Naufal. Through wars and miseries, the library stood and evolved. From a small shop decades ago, it is widely found in Beirut and other Lebanese cities now.
Not only does it offer a diverse of French books, but also a good number of English and Arabic ones, as well as a small section of Spanish and German ones. It also offers children's books, magazines, coffee-table productions, and a diversity of modern and classic stationery.
#10 Malik's Lebanon
Opened in a small branch in 1987 in Bliss Street, Malik's has grown to be one of Lebanon's leading bookstores. Not only does it offer a wide variety of books, but also art supplies, stationery selections, and computer and print services, from a simple photocopy to a huge poster. It's the number one academic and general bookstore in Lebanon, stocking over 50,000 titles, all available in-store and online.
As far as technology can evolve, there will always be a sacred place for physical books. Nothing can come near to holding a book in your hands and the senses that engage flipping through its pages with a smell of both old and new.
So, go hit the next bookstore in your neighborhood, grab a book, and enjoy the peaceful passion of reading!