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Knights of the Vine RUSSIA

Practical Moscow

Back in the bad old days, finding a store with a good selection of foreign-language books was akin to finding your apartment key in a snowdrift. Thankfully, times have changed and Moscow now boasts an abundance of bookstores with a wide selection of topics and titles. Bookworm Dianna Borsi OBrien hit the streets and found out which bookshops have the best selection of books in foreign tongues.


6 Vorotnikovsky pereulok; Metro: Mayakovskaya, Pushkinskaya; Tel. 299 7766;

Hours: Monday through Friday 1019, Saturday 1018, Sunday 1117.

What youll find: Without peer when it comes to books on Russia, Russian history and Russian literature in English. Sections on hobbies, art, architecture, business, design, decorative arts, photography, philosophy, psychology as well as a wide range of contemporary fiction. There is also an exhaustive collection of textbooks for teaching English along with books in English on various areas of study such as business management, health, and biology. Also some books in German.

Service: English is spoken here. Books can be ordered but it takes two to three months and a deposit of about half the cost of the books. The store does take credit cards.

Bonus: They also carry a number of magazines.

Rating: A must-visit, especially for the fine selection of Russian history, culture, and literature.


17 Nikitsky Boulevard; Metro: Arbatskaya; Tel. 291 8303, 789 9187; (Also have stores in MEGA mall, Global City, and the Airport Gallery shopping center on Leningradsky prospekt.)

Hours: Daily 1022

What youll find: The most Western feel of all Moscows bookstores, with wide aisles and chairs and reading lamps. The Arbatskaya location is the largest of the four Moscow Bookberry stores and has the largest selection of books in English, French, and German. An excellent selection of periodicals, including Newsweek and magazines covering everything from fashion and home decorating, to health, 4-wheel drive vehicles, and karate. An excellent array of books on architecture, design, art, and collectibles. Russian literature in translation, as well as a good selection of contemporary fiction and a travel section. There also are sections for children and religious books, including Bibles. No materials for learning Russian.

Service: There are people on staff who speak English and books can be ordered for free. Ordering a book can take as little as two weeks.

Bonus: The books here are exceptional values.

Rating: Well worth a visit to collect magazines you wont see elsewhere in Moscow and to stock up on the classics of Russian and English literature.

Bestseller: The Theatre by W. Somerset Maugham, 45 rubles.

  1. The Kitchen Boy, by Robert Alexander
  2. Stalingrad: The Fateful Siege, 19421943, by Antony Beevor
  3. Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoi 
  4. Favorite Russian Fairy Tales, by Arthur Ransome 
  5. Black Earth: A Journey through Russia after the Fall, by Andrew Meier 
  6. Peter the Great, by Robert K. Massie 
  7. Nicholas and Alexandra, by Robert K. Massie 
  8. Natashas Dance: A Cultural History of Russia, by Orlando Figes 
  9. The Road to Berlin, by John Erickson 
  10. We Now Know: Rethinking Cold War History, by John Lewis Gaddis

Dom Inostrannoi Knigi

18/7 ul. Kuznetsky Most; Metro: Kuznetsky most; Tel. 928 2021

Hours: 1020 Monday through Saturday, 1119 Sunday.

What youll find: A beautiful store, all the approximately 9,000 books are in a foreign language, mainly English, with sections on fiction, the supernatural, science fiction, fantasy, adventure, poetry, and the classics. Theres a section on learning Russian. The travel section is impressive with a fairly complete selection of Lonely Planet, Lets Go, and Rough Guides. In addition there are German and French sections and some lovely coffee table books on subjects ranging from St. Petersburg to design and art. The downside is that the section of Russian literature and history is small and they dont carry any foreign magazines.

Service: There is usually someone there who speaks English. You cannot order books. Credit cards are accepted.

Bonus: With its pretty interior, this shop is a restful enclave for booklovers.

Rating: Another must-visit bookshop.

Top seller to expats: This is the only shop to post a monthly notice of top sellers, which listed Harry Potter at the top along with Mikhail Bulgakovs The Master and the Margarita and works by Olivia Goldsmith and John Grisham.

The John Parsons Bookshop

20/1 Myasnitskaya; Metro: Chistye prudy, Lubyanka; Tel. 928 2960

Hours: 1020 Monday through Saturday, Closed Sunday.

What youll find: This lovely one-room shop opened in September. It is affiliated with the prestigious Higher School of Economics (and shares a building with the Higher School) and consequently offers Moscows largest selection of texts in English on business, finance, accounting, economics, management, and marketing. You will also find an impressive shelf of books about Russia, a shelf of history books, and a relatively small selection of fiction and travel guides.

Service: English is spoken here. You can order books. Credit cards are accepted.

Bonus: Offers discount cards.

Rating: The sophisticated selection and tasteful interior reflect that the shop is under British management.

Moskovsky Dom Knigi

8 Novy Arbat; Metro: Arbatskaya; Tel. 789 3591, 290 3580;

Hours: Daily 1021, Sunday 1020.

What youll find there: Perhaps the bestknown bookstore in Moscow, this is also one of the better stocked. The English-language books are on the second floor and in several areas. Very good travel section and some interesting titles on Russian history, literature and even art. There is a selection of books in French, German, Spanish, Italian, and Japanese.

Service: They will try and find a staff member who speaks English.

Bonus: In addition to luxurious coffee table books in English and Russian, they stock Russian art posters. Also an excellent stationery section on the first floor.

Rating: A must-visit shop for any true book fiend.

The "B List" Other Shops that Carry Foreign Language Books


What youll find


Our Take

Molodaya Gvardiya
28 Bolshaya Polyanka Tel. 238 0032 Metro: Polyanka

10-20 Monday through Saturday; 10-21 Sundays

Mainly educational literature. Some English-language magazines.

No English spoken.

Worth a stop if you want a fashion

8 Prechistenka; Tel. 202 2933; Metro: Kropotkinskaya;

9-10 daily; 10-19 Saturday; 11-18 Sunday

German, Spanish, Italian focus. Very little in English. Some English-language magazines.

No English spoken.

Worth a stop for a magazine.

Magazin Knigi
17 Nikolskaya Tel. 921 6458 Metro: Okhotny Ryad

Daily 10-21

Small selection of books in English, some in French and Italian. Coffee table books, postcards, interesting poster selection.

No English spoken.

Lovely interior.

6/3 Myasnitskaya Tel. 928 3567, 924 4680; Metro: Lubyanka;

9-21 Monday through Friday; 10-21 Saturday, 10-20 Sunday

Try the 2nd floor, hall 6: English, Italian, French, German, and Spanish books. Novels, both new titles and classics, dictionaries, and plenty of language learning materials.

Some staff speak English. It is possible to order books, though it may take a month or two.

Crowded, but definitely worth visiting.

Shakespeare & Co.
5/7 1 st Novokuznetsky pereulok Tel. 951 9360 Metro: Paveletskaya, Tretyakovskaya

Daily 11-19.30

Second-hand thrillers and modern novels at good prices. Some French books, a small selection of biographies, and childrens books. Despite its name, the focus here is on books in Russian.

No English. You need to ask for a receipt. No Credit cards.

Good if you need a fix of cheap paperbacks.

Bookafe as a Literary and Culinary Oasis
by John Phillips

Patrons of art, book lovers, and food connoisseurs might be relieved to learn that Bookafe, which opened near Tsvetnoi Boulevard last spring, is not one of those uniform coffee shops in a giant bookstore chain as its name may suggest. It is a far more intimate and glamorous affair that beckons the artsy types from the Moscow fashion and magazine world with an around-the-clock operation policy and coffee table hardbacks devoted to subjects ranging from fashion, photography, and architecture to interior design, nature, and gay erotic art. It is an art cafe and an art boutique rolled into one.

The books, published in English, German, and French, can be purchased for 700 to 3,000 rubles or just looked over at leisure while waiting for your order to arrive. Bookafe boasts three color-coordinated rooms styled after the 1970s American pop art movement. Colors of the walls seductive red, misty blue and vibrant yellow match the furniture.

A quick look at the menu reveals that Bookafes cuisine is as varied as its stock of books. Raw tuna rolled in sesame seeds served with soy sauce and wedges of lemon and lime (R220) smacks of Asia, while cottage cheese patties with raisins and sour cream (R140) is a Russian dish. French crepes make an appearance (for R190- 200) as do a number of Italian dishes, like fettuccine Alfredo (R310).

Those on the run or working unconventional hours will appreciate that breakfast and thincrust pizzas (R250-450) are on order 24-hours-aday and can be eaten in or carried out.

Bookafe is at 13 Sadovaya-Samotyochnaya; Metro: Tsvetnoi Bulvar; Tel. 200 0356

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