Another Country: English Literature Haven in Kreuzberg
Another Country Bookshop is exactly what its name suggests. However, it is not hidden in the depths of Hay On Wye, the bookshop town of the UK, but rather is situated in the centre of busy Kreuzberg. The bookshop is unique for Berlin. A few years ago it became the Lonely Planet's sixth English Bookshop in the world, and it's not hard to see why! It is relatively inexpensive, has a great selection of classics as well as a weird and wonderful random collection and is home to various events. I spoke to Sophia Raphaeline, the owner of the shop, to discover more about this little gem.
Raphaeline opened the bookshop around 16 years ago with her personal collection of approximately 11,000 books. Since that time it has flourished and now there is no way to guess how many books it contains. When it opened, the English speaking community in Berlin was not nearly as large as it is now, but Raphaeline wanted to open something involving English. By chance she stumbled across the shop for sale and thus it began.
The shop is exactly what an English bookshop should be: slightly chaotic but homey with undertones of systematic order. The black and white tiles on the floor make it feel like mom’s kitchen. It is a perfect place to relax and browse or read. You can even purchase a beer along with your book! What is remarkable about the place is that it is more of a library than a store. Ninety-seven percent of the books are returnable, costing a reasonable 7 Euros to purchase with a 1.50 Euro loss upon return. It is a perfect system for those who are in Berlin for a short time or for those who struggle to get library passes. The frequent exchange means there is always a good selection. You are not just left with the crap no one wants to buy, which can be a common problem with second hand book shops.
I have to say that one cannot call it merely a bookshop because that ignores its other features. Every Friday evening Raphaeline cooks a meal in the shop and anyone is welcome to join. It is a great place to meet people and find out more about Berlin and books. The place is also home to a story telling night, various writing groups, LGBT events.
If you like reading, or want to read more, this place should definitely be at the top of your list to visit.
Many thanks to Sophia for talking to me.
Riemannstraße 7, 10961 Berlin
By Bonny Herington