I had no idea that Vladimir Nabokov, one of my favorite authors of all time, was buried in Berlin. Which is why I need books like Slow Travel Berlin’s 100 Favorite Places. To tell me about all the neat little lesser-known, slow-travel-approved sights I’ve been missing by reading mainstream guidebooks. For the book nerd abroad, their favorites also include eight places to fill that book-shaped hole in your heart.
If you want to read a more traditional review of 100 Favorite Places, read my thoughts on it over at Young Germany.
Number 14: Cafe im Literaturhaus
Every big German city has a Literaturhaus (literature house) where big-names come to read, and the city’s lit snobs can join hands and pray at the altar of their favorite authors. 100 Favorite Places‘ Grashina Gabelmann recommends the cafe in Berlin’s Charlottenburg Lit House as “unpretentious and elegant” with a “strangely hushed” winter garden and a “mash-up of bookish types who are about to head next door for a reading and the well-off West Berlin retirees resting their legs between a shop and a stroll.”
Number 24: Russian Cemetery Tegel
The next time I go to Berlin this is going to be my first stop. How could I not have known Nabokov was buried there?! *tears at hair*
Numbers 26 & 56: Staatsbibliothek & the Norman Foster Philology Library
Want me to find a guidebook appealing? Put libraries in it. Libraries are always a great free attraction for book nerds freshly arrived in big, foreign cities.
Number 53: Joseph-Roth-Diele
This little restaurant sounds like the kind of place capable of making you feel like you’re a part of something important, among writerly peers, in a time and place that means something the way that Paris in the 1920s meant something. Giulia Pines, author of Finding Your Feet in Berlin, recommends “…come for coffee in the morning or a wine in the evening, when the room often fills with the jams of local jazz groups, and you’ll experience the space…as a nostalgic hangout for writers, filmmakers, musicians and other creative dreamers.”
Number 66: Marga Schoeller Bookshop
Berlin has an enormous selection of book shops exploding with both personality and books, so I was surprised to find just one listed here (but hey, you have to cut something, sometime). Perhaps Marga Schoeller’s book shop isn’t the first I would put on my book tourist list as far as stock goes, but its history would make a visit worthwhile. Despite selling banned books while refusing to sell Nazi literature during the Hitler years, the shop never closed and has been hawking words since 1929. As the first book shop to re-open post-war, it became a literary hot spot, “attracting an esteemed set of international writers that included Beckett and Hesse, Eliot and Auden, as well as the members of Hans Werner Richter’s famed Gruppe 47.”
Number 92: Bücherwald
That translates to “book forest” and these public leave-one-take-one trading bookshelves are fashioned from tree stumps inlaid with shelves. Originally a part of BookCrossing, Bücherwald is now publicly funded as part of a Sustainable Forestry Research program.
Geek Bonus: The Computer Games Museum
Right after I visit Nabokov’s grave, I’m going to run to this museum. Filled with old consoles and games, the place reminds me of Ready Player One‘s James Halliday’s house. The best part is that for your 8 euro admission, you can stay all day playing all the old games you want. How fucking cool is that and how much does it make you want to visit Berlin asap?
Where I got 100 Favorite Places: Sent by the publisher for review
Where you can get it: Enter Young Germany’s giveaway of 100 Favorite Places (ebooks and paper books)