Intolerants Rant: Sterling Books – Where Bath-Worthy Novels Abound

I have a thing for books. Like a bleeding heart, stick a fork in my eye kind of “thing.” I’m a voracious reader and love getting my hands on any piece of literature that leaves me enthralled, thoughtful, devastated and/or inspired. I enjoy the kind of book that makes me feel like the last 4 hours [reading] were the best I’ve ever spent, and have great admiration for an author who weaves such a scintillating tale that I’m haunted by his/her story and left to obsess about the main characters long after I’ve arrived at the back cover (The Road anyone?). While I’ve gotten on board with the e-book craze (so much simpler for travelling), I prefer the feel and smell of a “real book.” I’m known for using a pencil to mark up passages, and am fond of turning down page corners when something strikes me in case I want to come back to it at a later date.

As the Brussels-bound (or Brussels-based) may know, there’s plenty of bookstores in the Belgian capital, but the best English-language one – by far – is Sterling Books. Located in the heart of Brussels on Rue du Fossé aux Loups, this independent bookstore has an extensive selection of fiction, non-fiction and magazines to whet the appetite of any avid reader.

On the way in and bristling with excitement.

Boasting 40,000+ titles along with countless notebooks, greetings cards, audiobooks and DVDs, Sterling Books is open every day of the week (Sunday included!). Every time I’m in Brussels I stop by with the intention of “only browsing,” however  I  have yet to enter the store and leave without a book in hand. The staff are friendly and extremely knowledgeable about their stock and they go the extra mile if you’re looking for a particular book. Even if you’re hankering for something, but you aren’t quite sure what would quell your poetic heart, Sterling staff have an impressive knack (a superpower really) of providing stellar recommendations based on your literary taste.

Being in a bookstore like this is akin to sifting for gold. A total thrill when you hit the jackpot.

Case in point: the last time I was at Sterling Books I spent 30 minutes discussing the virtues and drawbacks of contemporary literature with a staff member who loves to – unashamedly – read in the bath. I enjoyed his candor and playful banter as we had a discussion about various authors and literary genres. Near the end of our talk he recommended a book that I threw into my hulking (shameful?) pile of purchases that I haven’t been able to put down since. An accomplishment really, because I’m one hell of a picky reader.

That said, I’m afraid I’ll be back at Sterling Books much sooner than expected.

*Averts gaze and shuffles feet*

PS – I forgot how awesome it is to read in the bath. I’ll be drawing yet another for myself tonight.

PPS – Book recommendations anyone? Feedback on should or must reads are welcome!


  1. Reading in the bath was my favourite activity and now I no longer have a bathtub. I suppose it gives me something to look forward to in swanky hotels and when I visit my parents in Canada (man, I really live it up, don’t I?)

    1. That’s makes two of us my dear. My tub in Cairo isn’t conducive to bathing, so I (quite literally) soak it up when visiting friends/family/hotels that are bathtub equipped…to an absurd degree.

  2. Seriously, anything by Ryszard Kapuściński, “Another Day of Life”, “The Soccer War”, “Travels with Herodotus”, “Imperium”, Shadow of the Sun”. Reading his books is like entering a dream…

    1. Just read up on Ryszard Kapuściński and I am going to be looking to pick up one of his books next time I’m at Sterling. Thanks for the great suggestion!

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