Thursday, September 03, 2009

8 Places to find English Books in Zurich

It allures you with its title. It makes you pick it up to admire it. As you hold it in your hands, you feel a slight rush like you can’t believe your luck.

It’s the English-titled book.

But then you open it. And all your hopes are dashed when you see the German text. Time and time again you fall for this.

It seems like a cruel joke to title something in English when it is in German. Granted, many of these books were originally written in English but this is no excuse for getting the hopes of a book-thirsty English-speaking expat soaring. Unfortunately, in Switzerland, you literally can’t judge a book by its cover. Because you’ll only end up disappointed.

That's where this post comes in. Written on behalf of, this is a two-part series on where to borrow and buy English books in Zurich. Real English books.

1. Orell Füssli. Bahnhofstrasse 70, 8001 Zurich. The largest selection of English books I have found in Zurich. Three tempting floors selling everything from fiction to travel to DVDs at not so tempting prices. (A paperback for CHF 30?) Oh yeah, despite being blissfully surrounded by stories you can understand, you check the price and realize you haven't really escaped Switzerland after all. But be sure to check their website from time to time for author appearances. I saw David Sedaris do a reading last year and it was wonderful.

2. Zuercher Brockenhaus Neugasse 11, 8031 Zurich. Decent selection of second-hand books on the second floor. Paperbacks are usually CHF 3 and hardcovers CHF 8. It can be hit or miss, but there's fun to be had in the hunt.

3. The American Women's Club of Zurich library. Schoentalstrasse 8, 8004 Zurich. Members can use this 5,000 book library for free, but non-members can use the library for a yearly fee of CHF 75 (that's like three paperbacks at Orell Fuessli...). The club also organizes book sales from time to time. Check their online calendar for more information. There's a sale coming up on the 17th.

4. The best part about this website is it offers free shipping anywhere in the world. The prices are competitive with amazon, but the free shipping (no matter the size of your order) usually makes the prices cheaper if you're ordering small quantities.

Stay tuned next week for Part Two on where to find English books in Zurich. And please leave a tip if I haven't covered a great place you know of, or can comment on other parts of Switzerland or know of other great websites. Thanks in advance and happy reading!


JuanitaTortilla said...

Orell Fuesli, check. Brockenhaus, check. Bonus points for "used book prices". I've also obtained English books at the Brockenstube in my neighbourhood. It's always a good idea to check in to see what's in store... You never know, there might be an English-speaking expat. -in your neighbourhood- who's just given some good books up at the Brockenstube!

I've heard good things about the book depository. Have yet to try it out for myself. But you had me at 'free shipping'!!!

Amanda said...

no tip, just a question about the book depository - do you know anything about the customs charges?

Chantal said...

i have ordered things from them several times and have had no issues with customs charges. but i would imagine if you order a huge amount of stuff you might.

Romy said...

Amanda, it's nearly impossible to predict customs charges - they're very arbitrary. Some of my Amazon orders get hit, some don't. I asked at the post office what the criteria are and they just kind of shrugged their shoulders and said they have no idea either. Strange!

Chantal, thanks for the book depository link, I hadn't heard of it! Free shipping? Awesome. *goes over there now to check it out*

Chantal said...

Sure. Yeah, you're right, you never know with the customs thing. But I've never had a problem with small orders. One trick is to mail stuff to an office address as I've heard they are less stringent with those.

Unknown said...

I love, love, love Orell Fuesli. I wish I'm still living in ZH :(

Susan said...

I've found some interesting things at the Book Brocki near Bahnhof Enge. They have an entire row of English books.

Lighthouse Lizzy said...

I order all my English books at If your order is under CHF 100 there are no customs changes.

Is anybody interested in swaping books?

Chantal said...

Susan, I love the Brocki near Enge. That's for the next post!

Lizzy, good to know about the 100 chf limit. Thanks for the info! Would love to swap books sometime.

Mari said...

I once went to an English video store where the owner had a bunch of free books, all in English. I took as many as I could carry! She said her customers bring them in, so she has stacks of them for the giving away. Her store is on Klosbachstrasse by tram Kreuzplatz.;)

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Ozelotti said...

Best English bookstore in town is Pile of Books!

Zentralstrasse 16, CH-8003 Zürich, 0041 43 333 29 45,

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