The top five bookstores in JerusalemThere's a reason they call Jews the people of the book. Generations of bookworms and literati have made the Jewish people the type to lug along tomes as they wander from place to place. And so it's no surprise that Jerusalem is swarming with bookshops catering toward every type of reader. And not just in Hebrew.
There's a reason they call Jews the people of the book. Generations of bookworms and literati have made the Jewish people the type to lug along tomes as they wander from place to place. And so it's no surprise that Jerusalem is swarming with bookshops catering toward every type of reader. And not just in Hebrew. The city has several stores, both big and small, with extensive English sections.
The historic American Colony Hotel has played host to no small amount of world literary figures and journalists (along with the regular crew of diplomats, spies and world leaders). No less than the likes of Leon Uris, Philip Roth, Bob Dylan and John le Carre (who wrote a novel at the hotel) have made the small inn their home away from home when visiting Jerusalem. It's fitting, then, that one of the city's most storied bookstores should be housed in the hotel. Munthers specializes in titles dealing with the region and also hosts frequent author appearances and readings, making it a place to read and be read. American Colony Hotel, 02-627-9777
The Book Gallery
The Book Gallery is a huge store pided into three levels, with multiple rooms and tomes crammed even into the staircase space. It simply overflows with books on nearly every subject and in most languages you can think of (English, Hebrew, French and German are only the beginning). To call it a secondhand book store, however accurate, would not be giving it enough credit. The Book Gallery's specialty is rare and antique books, and the staff is more than willing to perform a search for whatever book you may be looking for either by telephone, fax or through their website. Schatz St. 6 02-623-1087
Sefer v'Sefel (Book and Mug) is not easy to find. It's located on tiny Ya'abetz Street, which runs between Jaffa Road and Mordechai Ben Hillel Street. (From Ben Hillel, look for the steps leading down into the alley; from Jaffa, look for the juice stand on the corner.) Once you find the street, you'll have to turn a corner and climb a couple flights of steps up to the store. But tenacious shoppers who can locate it will be well rewarded. Sefer V'sefel's multiple levels overflow with new and secondhand books, chiefly in English, ranging from Judaica to trashy sci-fi to everything in between. The outdoor racks are filled with dirt-cheap books and magazines for the book fanatic on a budget. Ya'abetz St. 2 02-624-8237
Gur Arieh Books
Gur Arieh (Lion Cub) Books is a small, somewhat cluttered and reassuringly funky bookshop aimed mostly at the browsing tourist. The shop specializes in English books, particularly secondhand, and encourages - or, to be more accurate, requires - casual browsing, since the books aren't always as strictly arranged as someone accustomed to a lifetime of Barnes & Noble might expect. Despite its small size, the shop covers plenty of literary ground: fiction, all sorts of non-fiction, children's books and more. And as befits any Israeli bookstore, there are plenty of Jewish books, both religious and more general interest. Yoel Salomon St. 8 02-625-7486
M. Pomeranz Bookseller
M. Pomeranz Bookseller boasts Israel's largest selection of sifrei kodesh (Jewish holy books) in English. There is also a selection of Hebrew books, and some in French, German and Spanish as well. The store's multiple levels are filled with bookshelves stocked with everything from various English translations of the Bible to the hard-to-find-in-English works of minor Chasidic rabbis. Pomeranz has deep connections in the Israeli Judaica market and can special order (and most likely find) just about any religious book you're looking for. They've also got Jewish Music and good old reading food, like coffee and muffins. Be'eri St. 5 02-623-5559
Readers can always take the easy way and book it for the bright lights of chains Steimatsky and Tzomet Sfarim, but it's often by visiting the older, off the beaten track bookshops around town that one can stumble upon special finds, and special prices. Here's GoJerusalem.com's list of the five best Jerusalem bookstores, in no particular order.
There's nothing quite so meta than reading about places you can find things to read. So get off the computer and get yourself some real fine literature. If you can't find anything at the stores, you're not really looking.
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