Buying books in English in The Hague

Despite its relatively small size, The Hague is home to a wide range of museums, galleries and cultural institutions that are located on the odd resident’s front door step. With that being said, the city isn’t beneath hosting an eclectic collection of quaint book-nooks, beckoning bibliophiles to enter on gentle heel, too.  There is a photo of American writer and futurologist, Alvin Toffler dressed in a classic dark suit with a crisp white shirt underneath floating around the internet. In the photograph he sits behind a wooden table with his left forearm leaning self-assuredly on the desk in front of him while his head gently rests upon his right fist. He stares at the lens with a serene yet intense gaze and it is there where I imagine him proclaiming: “A library is a hospital for the mind.” In this write-up, I will transform Toffler’s library to a bookshop, the reason being that a book retains its integrity regardless of whether it has been bought or borrowed. Now . . . let us gallivant through the English literary-landscape of The Hague.

The English Bookstore, placed along the monumental Oude Passage path, is as the name suggests, the only all-English bookstore in The Hague. Don’t fret if you encounter their Dutch relative, De Vries Van Stockum, and start to question your direction. You must simply stroll a step or two further and you’ll spot The English Bookstore just across the way. It is a small, though carefully curated corner containing fictive and non-fictive texts, hand-picked by their scrupulous staff. A bookish banquet awaits.

If you take a short walk along Lange Poten, towards Het Plein, a large square adjacent to the Dutch parliament buildings in the centre of The Hague you might find yourself standing before the big blue lettering of The American Book Centre. This fiercely run family-owned business boasts stores in Amsterdam, Leidschendam and The Hague where tall unearthed tales lurk in anticipation. Just a few doors down from The American Book Centre, is the Mayflower Bookshop where a familial-touch shines bright. A collection of new and used English books reside on the high-rise shelves of the shop. Also in the Lange Poten is a branch of the Paagman chain which has a good selection of English books as do most bookshops in Holland.

Furthermore, the Stanza Bookshop situates itself on the far end of the royal shopping street known as Noordeinde. A selection of Spanish, Greek, German, Italian, Portuguese and not to mention, English stories lie inside. If you favour perusing dog-eared pages to the neatness of the new, The Hague doesn’t skimp out on its many kringloops littered across the city. These kringloops, or “recycle stores,” provide shelter for a varied selection of donated novels awaiting adoption. In short, there are many a literary treasure to dig up in The Hague, plenty enough to tantalise every taste bud.  Eva Lakeman   June 2024