Bookshops may have a stale image – but they can be a highlight, a meeting hub and a broadening of horizons. Like these seven bookstores in Munich.
Mysterious crimes, dubious syndicates and, of course, murder and homicide: There's hardly anything Germans love more – at least according to the bestseller lists. Thriller mania is particularly pronounced in Munich: Here, the fans are treated to an annual crime festival and even a dedicated crime fiction bookshop, the “Glatteis”.
In a way, the name – black ice – says it all. No other genre makes readers squirm so much until finally the decisive clue provides a foothold. Accordingly, the “Glatteis“, set in a rather non-criminal environment in the beautiful Gärtnerplatzviertel district, offers the whole range of the exciting topic: whether in printed, audible or electronic form, whether as a classic crime novel or horror-heavy mystery narrative. A clear case for all those who like to hunt down criminals from the comfort of their couch.
Food and books for the eye. For many a Munich bookworm, “Literatur Moths“ is therefore the first choice for stocking up on reading material. The multi-award-winning bookshop on the edge of the old town is certainly one of the most beautiful in the city. From the outside, changing works of art are lovingly draped in the shop window to form mini-exhibitions; inside, the display is flooded with light.
Also in terms of content, the focus is on beauty. Instead of bestsellers, there is a curated selection of art, culture and cuisine, complemented by matching accessories such as natural candles in upcycled glass or hand-cut crystals as luminous paperweights. Some avid readers therefore see “Moths“ less as a bookshop – and more as a stage for the joys of life.
Less a bookshop – more a stage for the joys of life.
Sure, you can find a cupboard with English-language books in almost every bookshop these days. Anglophiles should nevertheless take some time to visit “Words' worth“: The purely English-language bookshop has been housed in a building of Ludwig-Maximilians University since 2006.
It claims to have a good 10,000 titles lined up on its walls. The fiction section focuses equally on contemporary and classic literature from the UK, the USA and other English-speaking countries – while the non-fiction section deals with literary history, music, philosophy and biographies, among other things.
The Christmas season offers a special highlight: Then the book assortment is enriched by British specialities such as “Christmas pudding“ and “brandy butter“. Enjoy!
If you want to find someone in the crowds on the Karlsplatz-Stachus, you need to set a meeting point: for example, the “Hugendubel“. The branch of the same-named Munich bookseller family on Karlsplatz is considered a rock in the city’s hubbub – and its largest bookshop: The full range extends over three floors, from the latest bestsellers to games and school books to the classics of world literature.
Another famous attraction are the long sofas on the mezzanine floors, where you can browse through your new favourite book. Since the extensive renovation, guests can not only quench their thirst for books, but also satisfy their culinary needs in the café on the first floor.
A bookshop for women? Welcome to “Lillemors Ladies’ Bookshop”! Although: Maybe “Meeting point for feminist issues” would be a more appropriate description. Founded in 1975 as Germany's first women's bookshop, in the early years it served, among other things, as a refuge for women who had become victims of domestic violence – which is why men were temporarily not allowed in. In addition, “Lillemors“ was a hub for political discussions; activists organised women's movement demonstrations.
Today, the shop has long been open to all genders again, but the political claim has remained. The focus is on literature for and by women as well as on books by small publishers, which tend to get lost in the huge print mass. A small gallery presents works by female artists to give women more space in the male-dominated world of art.
As an official purveyor to the court, the Lentner bookshop even provided the Bavarian royal house of the Wittelsbach dynasty with a constant stock of new reading material for a time.
The name hints at the theme: “Buch und Töne“ not only caters for the eyes, but also for the ears. The bookshop also sells music, especially classical, jazz, folk and soul.
Nevertheless, the shop sees itself as a “mixture of modern antiquarian book trade and classic range bookshop“. In simple terms: Many of the books on offer are part of a remaindered edition or defective copies, unread but with slight signs of use and storage.
Because such books are no longer subject to the statutory fixed book price, “Buch und Töne“ is allowed to sell them at reduced rates. This is easy on the wallet – and in a way also on the book, which now has a home instead of falling victim to the trash compactor in the worst case.
Marienplatz (main square) is considered the geographical, political and social hub of Munich. So, the people behind the Lentner bookshop couldn't have chosen a better location when they decided on the ground floor of Neues Rathaus (New Town Hall) decades ago. This was after they had already moved once or twice within the city.
The bookshop has been around for more than 300 years – since 1698, to be exact. This makes it the oldest bookshop in Old Bavaria and an institution in the local literary scene. As an official purveyor to the court, it even supplied the Bavarian royal house of the Wittelsbach dynasty with a constant stock of new reading material for a time. Today, the books are lined up close together on the heavy wooden shelves. The assortment has grown over the centuries: from Bavarian history, medieval art and theology to contemporary entertainment and non-fiction.
The comic has long since grown up as a genre, yet it has remained a niche. If you want to delve deeper into the world of speech bubbles and colourful storylines, we recommend a trip to the “Comic Company“ in the Gärtnerplatzviertel district.
Although they seem inconspicuous at first glance, the boxes that are visibly placed at the entrance are always worth a second look. If you're lucky, you'll find the old comic heroes you last held in your hands as a child: used copies, creased, smelling of the cellar and brimming with fond memories.