January 5, 2017 by O Vadio
Where to Find English-Language Books in Lisbon
UPDATED February 6, 2017
Finding books in English in Lisbon isn’t too difficult, and the number of stores selling English-language books keep growing.
Ler Devagar (1300, R. Rodrigues de Faria 103) in LX Factory in Alcântara is one of the most gorgeous bookstores around, with a cafe where you can drink wine and smoke cigarettes while you look all smarty-pants. The English selection (all new books) skews toward Portuguese authors and Portugal travel and history books, but there are occasionally titles by contemporary American and British masters and more mainstream books too.
Bertrand Livreiros (Rua Garrett 73) in Chiado is the oldest bookstore in the world still in operation, but it keeps up with the times no problem. Bertrand has a rotating selection of English-language books, including a solid variety of travel guides, but also books by Portuguese authors in English and New York Times bestsellers. It’s got an online store too. Another location in Picoas Plaza (Rua Tomás Ribeiro and Rua Viriato) also offers a small but well-curated selection of English-language books, including Svetlana Alexievich’s Voices from Chernobyl.
Bivar Books (Rua de Ponta Delgada 34A) is an all-English secondhand bookstore in Estefânia with a penchant for Penguin editions and a bend toward science fiction titles, which are otherwise very hard to find in English in this town. It’s run by the affable Leena Marjola, who’s actively building a community of book-lovers with readings, exhibits, and more.
Livraria Britânica (Rua Luis Fernandes, 14), in Principe Real, is geared toward English language learners and teachers, its tag line being “Serving the English Language Teaching in Portugal [sic] Since 1981.” As such, it has a peculiar selection: they don’t have books by Hemingway, just about Hemingway, for example, but they did have a Martin Amis novel recently. Nonetheless, you’ll find your Harry Potter here, and it’s perfect for children’s books and classics like Charles Dickens and D.H. Lawrence. You can order online, too — but don’t even think about trying to find their address on their website. Yes.
Estrela Hall (Rua da Estrela 10), home to the English-language theater troupe The Lisbon Players, has a shelf of books, many of them in English, for anyone to grab for a minimum suggested donation of just 1€. But we encourage you to throw in a few more in there if you can — this community-oriented group doesn’t have much funding. While you’re at it, might as well grab a 1€ copo of wine (that’s usually from a bottle, not a box!).
Lisbon markets are also great for finding good deals on English-language book, as well as books in French and German. Feira da Ladra (Campo de Santa Clara, Tuesdays and Saturdays) in Alfama has a ton of used book sellers. Some of them know what they have, others just found it on the street somewhere, so there are bargains galore. Belem Flea Market (Jardim Vasco de Gama, Rua Vieira, first and third Sunday of the month) also occasionally has English-language books.
Finally, if you find yourself in Cascais, there’s an excellent and extensive collection of English-language classics and mainstream pulp, most of them for under 4€, as well as books in French and German and, of course, Portuguese, at Livraria Galileu (Av. Valbom 24-A).
RIP: Lisbon’s best used bookstore… Fyodor Books (Rua do Loreto 15), close to Praça de Camões, was run by literature graduates who sold carefully selected used books in English, Portuguese, French, and German. If you saw something here, it was usually very good. And at 3€ a pop, you could afford to make a mistake.
On a happier note, Atlas is starting an English-language book exchange event. Nov. 15, 7pm-9pm, stop by O’Gilins Irish Pub (Rua dos Remolares 8/10) in Cais do Sodre with a book or two or three you don’t mind lending to someone else, and expect to find the same. Ask for Atlas. Can’t make it? Drop us a note and we’ll let you know about the next one.
Know of any other stores that carry English-language books in Lisbon? Let us know.