December is the perfect time to curl up with a cup of tea and a good book. If you’re looking for something in English, we can help.
Since moving to Brussels I’ve purchased quite a few books written in English. At €10–13 per book it adds up quickly, though. Living in a small apartment, the bookshelf just isn’t big enough. So I did a search online and I found the “Bibliothèque Centrale pour la Région de Bruxelles-Capitale” has a section of English books.
English books on offer in a Belgian library
Close to the Grand Place, this library is open until 12:00pm on Saturdays. I was surprised that I spoke enough French to be able to ask where the section with English books is. So I went upstairs and saw the few shelves with the books in English. Not a huge selection, but it covers a wide enough range for those who like Dan Brown, John Grisham, Emily Bronte, Marian Keyes, and Sofia Kinsella, among others.
So I chose three books and made my way back down to the checkout counter. I was also able to speak enough French to tell the lady that I didn’t have a library card (bibliopass). So she started doing her thing on the computer to prepare a card. As a permanent resident in Belgium, you just need to give them your ID card. They scan it and then you have the choice to pay for a one-year subscription. Alternatively, you can pay a certain amount per book. Not too bad. The books are on loan for three weeks and you can renew them online. Just make sure to ask for your ID for the internet.
So if you feel like you might be falling into the habit of adopting EuroEnglish, then stop by the Bibliothèque Centrale. If you prefer buying books, there are two stores I know of in Brussels dedicated to books in English: Waterstones and Sterling Books. I personally prefer Sterling since it is a bit smaller; they also give you a punch card so that when you buy a certain number of books they give you a discount.