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31 December 2005

Books... and Bookshops in Athens

Looking for something to read

This Xmas break I spent mostly reading, I'm halfway through my third book since Christmas, I've been going through most of the big bookshops here in Athens, and I've been enjoying most of it. Right on the morning of the 24th I began looking for books to read, found two then, but kept on looking. Yesterday I finally found two more books too my liking. So let's sum up the books and bookshops in a bit more detail.

First for the language question: I do read greek books sometimes, but in general it's still hard for me. So when I want to relax, what I need is books in German or English. Also I prefer to read in the original language. Even though there are a couple of german bookstores in Athens, most of them have gone educational. They carry mostly schoolbooks, teaching books, and some classics. English books should be easier here. There is one big bookshop with english books, but I constantly forget name and address. But some other bookshops have english books too.

First I went to Παπασωτηρίου (Papasotiriou), a big shop that also has a branch specialized on computer books. I looked in their branch on Akadimias and on Stournari street (where the 'puter stores are). They seem to have a small assortment of english books, standardized across branches. It's not much, but I found and bought "Eragon" by Christopher Paolini and "TechGnosis" by Erik Davis. An interesting combination: Eragon is something like a Tolkien sing-along contestant, with Elves, dwarfs and dragons. As I understand it, the author was about 15 when he started to write it. It's a relaxing, interesting read, carried me along nicely in its world, though it's not really deep or meaningful.

Techgnosis on the other hand tries to explain why our technical class of information technology lends so much to mystical stuff. I came across a wide description of all the phenomenons that couple tech stuff with mystical and magic stuff, the cults, lunacies, phenomena that people build out and around technical inventions, as well as the dreams and desires that leads programmers and sysadmins to talk about demons, magic and wizards. The book is at once instant buzzword overflow, a fly through through all the esoterica in the world. But it is more a description than an explanation, it won't really explain why people choose Tolkien figures names in chatrooms (unless you count "people have a desire for that stuff from ages ago and it won't go away" as an explanation). TechGnosis is a full book, I could only read it while awake enough, otherwise the text would just flow through for a page or so, without any understanding.

Those two had carried me over the Christmas days, but in the middle of the week I was through. In the meanwhile though, I continued my walk through the bookstores. I went on a bigger excursion, took the "train" (as athenians refer to the old subway line that connects Piraeus and Kifisia) to go to "The Mall", a hyper, mega, supersize, bulging mall that is all the hype these days. Over there they have fnac, a french bookstore and technology chain. I'm not really into the "shopping experience" thing, so I found that 3 (or 4?) store supersize shopping palace to be a perfectly dreary and cold place. Sure you can bring your family or clique and shop till you drop, but you will not likely meet someone new, talk to someone you have not known before. Fnac did not impress me either. For one thing there were no foreign books, and the greek book selection was just everybody's. The technology section is just your average mobile phone, computer, CD, audio, DVD, tv store. I was happy to leave.

One "foreign language" bookstore here is Librairies Kaufman, which is mainly french books, but apparently some english, german, and spanish books too. They have two shops, one on Akadimias, the other on Stadiou (28 IIRC). A nice atmosphere, Kaufman is an old fashioned store. Very family style, friendly and overall "booky". But either their english section is indeed very small, or else I did not find most of it. After this personal bookstore I went to IANOS, a book megastore from Thessaloniki that opened a three floor shop on Stadiou street. No english books there, but I saw a lot of nice greek books, especially some great photographic books. Obviously they have a big selection on greek books, so if that is what you are looking for, they might be good. I've even seen some of William Gibson's books in greek translation.

Yesterday I met with a friend for a quick bite in Εξάρχια (Exarhia) and before that he wanted to shop for some books. Fine with me. We went to the Πολιτεία (Politia) bookshops on the corner of Asklipiou and Akadimias. There are 3 or 4 shops and basement shops belonging together, forming an old fashioned variant of a "book megastore". I had been there before and knew that they had an english language section, but back then it wasn't so great. But I can't go to a bookstore and not look for books. So without expecting much I looked through the shelves. I picked up "The Secret History" by Donna Tartt, a kind of student life "mystical society" experience thriller book (which I'm currently almost halfway through, so I can't say that much yet). Also I found "Burning Chrome" by William Gibson. A collection of short stories by the author of "Neuromancer" and a couple of other of my beloved books. I knew about this book all along, but just hadn't come around reading it (or owning it) yet. I guess I'm deep into cyberpunk, lost. And looks like after going through 5 big bookshops I have something to read till work starts again and on the way to work for the next days.

See also: The list of all "my" English language book shops in Athens.

Posted by betabug at 12:39 | Comments (10) | Trackbacks (3)
ch athens
Life in Athens (Greece) for a foreigner from the other side of the mountains. And with an interest in digital life and the feeling of change in a big city. Multilingual English - German - Greek.
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Re: Books... and Bookshops in Athens

Hello, will you be carrying the new Harry Potter Book that is being released on July 20, 2007? I would need the book in English. I live in New York, and I will be in Greece when the book is released.

Thank you,
Aspasia Vasilakos

Posted by: Aspasia Vasilakos at June 05,2007 20:21
Re: Books... and Bookshops in Athens


to say it frankly: I'm not a bookshop. All I have is a little website and a weblog. I don't sell anything. I sometimes recommend books or bookshops, but that's just based on my personal oppinion.

I'm sorry, but if you want to read a good book, I'd suggest something with a bit more niveau than what you're trying to get there.

Regards, Sascha

Posted by: betabug at June 06,2007 22:12
Is there any kind of audiobook IN GREEK of the Lliad or Odyssey?

I study anciant greek poetry and i´d like to know if there is some sort of "audio media" (Audiobook, for example) in greek of the Lliad or Odyssey for sale in Athens. My parents are on vacation there and It would be awesome if they could get one or both of these audiobooks in greek.
Thank you

Posted by: Júlio Silva Vieira at June 13,2007 01:30
Re: Is there any kind of audiobook IN GREEK of the Lliad or Odyssey?

Julio, I don't know. As mentioned before, I'm not a bookshop myself :-) I think your best bet is to have a good, long, long search through, the online store of one of the biggest bookshops here, maybe they have something. Personally I doubt it, but ancient Greek is not really my area of expertise.

Also note that it's called "Iliad", not "Lliad", the first character is a capital "i". When searching at the Papasotiriou site you will have to enter the proper Greek terms likely, with Greek letters.

Good luck and a good journey to your parents, I hope they enjoy it here!

Posted by: betabug at June 13,2007 08:56
Re: Books... and Bookshops in Athens

Can you tell me where I can buy...

Just kidding. Thanks for posting the reviews, and locations. I've been in greece for two weeks and I am heading back home tomorrow, but sadly have finished all my books (I underpacked). It's funny that most people who list english bookshops in foreign cities seem to be fans of SF. I guess we all need our fix, eh?

I brought PKD's "The Unteleported Man", a pretty poor novel by some guy called "The Tenth Planet" and a collection of Bruce Sterling's short stories called "GlobalHead". I highly recommend the latter, especially if you enjoy cyberpunk.

Glad you found a copy of Erik Davis' book... that is a pretty abstract find, especially in a foreign language. I first came across it as assigned reading for a Relgious Studies class, with a pretty abstract (but great) professor. It's not often I hear of it from others.

Well, great site, and keep it up!


Posted by: Adam at September 21,2007 10:02
Re: Books... and Bookshops in Athens

Hi Adam, welcome to the place, thanks for the compliment! Hope you managed to grab some books for the flight back. I think SF readers look at more bookshops, because bookshops s*ck at SF, so we have to hunt down any bit we might find.

I fixed the link to your blog, headed over and spent some nice reading time there.

Posted by: betabug at September 24,2007 16:29
Re: Books... and Bookshops in Athens

I would like to know in this shop have dictionary Thai-Greek? if have please let me know because i want to but
your urgent reply will be appliciate
Thanks Frank

Posted by: Frank at December 05,2009 22:04
The Origins of Totalitarianism, Hannah Arendt

I would like to find the book from Hannah Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism in greek. And also to know if it is possible to send it in Bratislava, Slovakia. cause I cannot find the book nowhere and I'll not go to greece in some time. Thanks a lot. I wait for your answer.

Posted by: Aitana Casanova Mas at August 19,2010 12:38
Re: Books... and Bookshops in Athens

Dear Aitana Casanova Mas,

don't wait for my reply, there won't be one. I'm not a book shop, I don't sell books, I don't send books anywhere.

Have a good time in Slovakia!

Posted by: betabug at August 24,2010 09:23

Hi Great! Well done! I live in NZ and want to get a book for my sister who lives in Athens and am trying hard to find bookshops that sell english books in Athens. Adding the website to your list, when they have one would be a much easier job for us. Thanks.turquoisegrece.

Posted by: turquoisegrece at December 15,2010 19:43
You can trackback to:
Looking For (English) Bookshops Again

Saturday's nice weather found us going into the center of Athens, looking for bookstores with
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Compendium (or Compendeum) which we looked for on Nikis Street (near Syntagma square), but it
was gone. No link to that page, as it is outdated, should be either updated or removed. Next to
where that shop was, there is a branch of Eleftheroudakis, but only with a small English
section. We went on to the "big" Ελευθερουδάκης (Eleftheroudakis) on
Panepistimiou street (which got relabelled to Eleftheros Venizelos street btw)...

Read the linking post here: ch-athens at February 06,2006 10:00
Books Hunted, 1001 Books Listed

Looking through a list of Zwiki example sites I came across one very nice
wiki called thinkubator.
In its refreshing but not very wikilike pages I found a reference to a
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the authors and titles. A long count showed me that I have read 60 of
them and am into number 61 now... because as I happened to have visited
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stumbled upon a bookshop that has some english books. I went in to
discover a small selection, but amongst them I found 3 books that I
bought. So a big selection isn't really everything. What did I get?

Read the linking post here: ch-athens at November 15,2006 23:23
Lost and Found: Bookshop

In a few previous post about "Bookshops in Athens" (Dec 2005, Feb 2006, Nov 2006) I was looking
out for "Compendium Books", references to which I had found on the web. I had considered them
lost, since they had moved and I did not find them at their ...

Read the linking post here: ch-athens at September 10,2007 11:39