Tbilisi for Book Lovers
Tbilisi, Georgia is definitely a city I’d consider living in. There are great restaurants and cafes, a beautiful old town, it’s cheap and it has so many great places for book lovers. So bookworms and literature aficionados rejoice, here are all the wonderful places to browse, read and appreciate books in Tbilisi.
Books to Read When in Georgia
I picked up a copy of 'Stories I Stole' by Wendell Steavenson while I was in Tbilisi. It's a really interesting book about an American journalist who moves to Tbilisi during the late 90s. Good for learning a bit of history and reading some interesting anecdotes.
I also bought a copy of 'Ali and Nino' by Kurban Said which is actually set in Baku but tells the story of a Georgian girl and an Azeri boy who fall in love but can't be together. I've heard it's the Romeo and Juliet of the Caucasus and I'm really looking forward to reading it.
Bookshops in Tbilisi
We’ll start with the obvious, head to a bookshop. There are a few good English bookstores in Tbilisi where you can find a range of bestsellers, non-fiction and Caucasus literature.
Prospero’s Bookshop and Café
This is set in a gorgeous little courtyard off the main street. It has a great range of English books including travel, textbook and children’s sections and gifts. Most books are between 15-30 GEL. The café does brilliant coffee, sandwiches and snacks and is a great place to sit and get some work done or cosy up with a book.
Address: 34 Shota Rustaveli Ave, Tbilisi 0108
This is a great book store with a large range of English books. It's great for a browse and is located just off a street with great cafes. So pick up a book and find a comfy place to sit and read for a couple of hours.
Address: 22 Ilia Chavcahvadze Avenue
This shop is overflowing with stacks of books of all genres and languages. If you’re like me and get warm fuzzies just from being around large collections of books you’ll get all kinds of good vibes in this place. There are lots of collectors’ items as well as a second hand English section. The books in the English section are quite old but it’s worth a browse.
Address: 77 Davit Aghmashenebeli Ave, Tbilisi
The Book Markets
Along Rustavali Avenue you’ll find plenty of street vendors who have set up shop with a range of old books. Most of them are in Russian or Georgian but you might find the odd English book. All the same, they are nice to wander through and some of them sell beautiful maps and postcards.
Book Cafes in Tbilisi
There seems to be a thing for book cafes in Tbilisi and obviously I made sure to personally try them all. From gorgeous bookshelves to book-themed décor, these places will make any book lover want to settle in for the day.
Begemot Coffee and books
I mean, the name says it all. This place serves the most amazing, giant coffees, roast vege and pesto sandwiches and the walls are lined with books. What more could you want?! The books in the front are 5GEL and on the back shelf they are 10-20GEL. On the left side of the back bookshelf there is a section that are free to swap. This place is also a speak-easy and has a downstairs bar behind the sliding bookcase! See if you can get the invite to check it out.
Address: 2 Ivane Machabeli St, Tbilisi
Book Corner Café.
There are now two of these book cafes in Tbilisi. The first is located on Ivane Tarkhnishvili Lane and is in a house. As a result, it has a really homely feel and is filled with all kinds of literary touches from quotes on the wall and lampshades to the menu printed in a book. They serve really good food (we loved the Ceasar salad and fresh soup) as well as coffee, tea and cakes.
Address: 13 Ivane Tarkhnishvili Lane, Tbilisi
The second one is located on the river next to the Dry Bridge and has similar décor and the same menu. However, because of the location and new building with views out to the river it has a much more hip and modern vibe. Both cafes are lovely but the first has much more of a cosy, bookish feel.
Café at Rooms Hotel
This is a modern, chic hotel with some amazing decor. If you've got a spare few hundred euro you should definitely get a room there. If you're like us and prefer life on a tighter budget then you can head there for a coffee and enjoy the beautiful cafe with plenty of bookshelves.
They also have another hotel in the mountain town of Kazbegi which sports amazing bookshelves and mountain views.
Address: 14 Merab Kostava Street
Other Activities in Tbilisi for Book Lovers
The National Parliamentary Library
This is a beautiful old building which is free to enter. Inside there are books in several language sections including English, German and French. It's definitely worth a look if you're in the area.
The Book museum
Look into this when you get to Tbilisi. Nobody quite knows when it will open but if the interior is half as nice as the exterior it'll be a real treat. It's meant to display ancient Caucasus literature and antique books and be 'the biggest book museum in the Caucasus and the first in Georgia'. Let me know what it's like when it opens!
The Museum of Georgian Literature
This is another thing I'd love to hear about if anybody makes it. We went here on Sunday and it was closed and returned on Tuesday to be told by security that it would be opening at 6pm. This seemed a little weird for a museum and we didn't return in the evening. But for literature lovers with an interest in Georgian literature it might be worth trying!
This isn't strictly book-related but book lovers tend to also love theatre and stories. In the old town of Tbilisi there is a puppet theatre which shows various performances throughout the year. We were lucky enough to meet one of the crew on the last night of the production who sold us the last two tickets! It was really interesting and entertaining. The play is usually in Georgian with English subtitles. Check out the performance schedule during your visit.
Reading in the park
Tbilisi has so many well-manicured green areas including the Botanical Gardens. They make a great spot for chilling on a warm day and reading your book. There's even some reading-themed sculptures to spot in some of the parks around the city.
As you can see, there is no shortage of things to do and see in Tbilisi for book lovers. Tbilisi also has plenty of appeal for history lovers, foodies and wine lovers. But we'll leave all that to another post!
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