Bucharest has had English bookshops before. There was a place called Salinger’s at the Marriott, which sold overpriced books few were interested in and eventually closed (though a tiny branch survives at the airport). There was an attempt by Libraria Noi/Sala Dalles to move into English books – at one stage they had a wide range, though, again, prices were high and the experiment was quietly dropped. Today, while most branches of Diverta have a small range of English books, they stock very little anyone would want to read (a mix of bullshit business books and awful fiction).
The brilliant and exceptional Humanitas and Carturesti apart, Romanian bookshops in general have never impressed us. Take a look at any branch of Diverta, or even the much-fabled Carturesti to see the problem: too much space, not enough books. Then go to Anthony Frost, Bucharest’s first decent English bookstore, where you can barely move for falling over piles of books. Then tell me which one looks the most like a bookshop.
Found on Calea Victoriei opposite the Cretulescu Church, Anthony Frost isn’t new, but for some reason we only discovered it a few months ago. It has since become part of our weekend routine: take the kids on a Saturday morning to choose a new Horrid Henry book while Dad blows a week’s wages on hardback history volumes he might never get around to reading.
The selection of books of all genres in English is unsurpassed in this city, and our one gripe would be that there is not perhaps enough on Romanian history. (But then you could argue there is precious little on Romanian history in English worth reading anyway).
By the way, places like Anthony Frost are surely proof that e-readers like Kindle are doomed to never take off.
This week, instead of the planned next volume of Horrid Henry adventures, number one son quite literally stumbled upon a pile of Asterix books: a character he was until then unaware of. He sat down to read one for a bit, became an instant fan and so he walked out with an Asterix book.
That is just not going to happen while downloading a book onto a Kindle, is it?
Anthony Frost English Bookshop, Calea Victoriei 45, tel. 021 311 51 38