Bookstore Cafés in Dhaka: 6 places bringing back the joy of reading

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Image: Collected

Are you looking for the best bookstore cafe in Dhaka? Books; the 5 lettered words may not mean much to an ordinary person other than associating it with a boring stash of pages. But to a bibliophile, a book is like a doorway to a new world; whether it's leading to ‘Narnia’ through the wardrobe or into the thoughts of ‘Apu’ from ‘Pather Panchali’. To a Bengali reader, books have been a bridge of culture, genre, and an escape from reality. The appeal of a physical book has always trumped e-books and e-readers. There simply isn’t a satisfaction of page-turning thrill on a digital print. And this idea and appeal of physical books have inspired various book cafés. Where you can sit back and turn your favorite page, all over a cup of tea or coffee.

Pathak Shamabesh

Situated right in the heart of Dhaka in Shahbag, Pathak Shamabesh is probably one of the largest and the oldest book café in Dhaka. The place had a humble beginning back in 1987 with just a small store in Aziz supermarket, opposite to its current flagship center. However, the vision and need for a book café inspired its founder to venture into a large space in the annex building of the National Museum.

You will find all sorts of books here tucked in rows after rows perfectly organized genre-wise. From international bestsellers to new writers, Pathak Shamabesh has a blend of everything which you can comfortably enjoy from the couch or small sitting areas spread across the center.

PBS

For a book lover, this is a 2 storied paradise. Located right near Shantinagar of Dhaka, PBS is a place hidden from the hustle and bustle of the city center. The first floor is house to an intricate maze of books sorted by genre and writer. Whether it's Bangla or English, you’re sure to find something for yourself here.

PBS houses all the latest releases including some timeless classics. Their main attraction has to be the children’s corner where there's an array of children’s books and art materials. There is also a separate play zone for them so that bibliophile parents can have a bit of time off and enjoy some page-turning. The sitting area is intricately spread out which means you’re sure to find a cozy corner for yourself. There’s no coffee here however, but who needs coffee when you can get lost in the world of books?

Bengal Boi

Up until recently, the most iconic thing about Dhanmondi 27 was the towering triplex filled with open space and greenery of Bengal Boi. What places like Pathak Shamabesh started, Bengal Boi gave it a true definitive form. There is an open terrace on the front which also has a café. From the second floor, you can access the books.

There is a wide-open area and it's designed to make you feel lost in a fairyland of books. You can find books of all different genres and a seating area right beside, just in case if you wanted to start your adventure right away. The café on the terrace and the rooftop compliments well to the overall aesthetics of the place.

Unfortunately, they shifted to the Bengal center right beside its original space recently.  But don’t let that dishearten you. The new place is also every bit reminiscent of the old one.

The Reading Café

The reading café is a relatively new one on our list. The place was founded in 2014 with the sole purpose of giving the readers a place to retreat and unwind in a sea of books. The founder of the café, Atikur Rahman decided to branch out to this idea leaving his stable job. Over the years, the café saw growth and incessant support from its customer base. Even amid the pandemic, the café opened its latest branch in Banani. All total there are 4 branches spread across Dhaka for the bibliophiles.

There is a diverse collection of books in the reading café. The place promotes itself to have something for everyone. Even if you’re not a reader, you’re sure to convert once you visit this place.

Baatighar

Located right in the heart of Dhaka city at Bisya Sahitya Kendra, Baatighar quickly became popular among the readers due to its magnificent interior and collection of books. The bookstore is originally from Chittagong and you get certain design elements of old tradition from the interior. The dome-like bookshelves give you a feeling as if you are in some palace laden with books.

Their collection of books ranging from Bengali classics as well as new ones. There’s also a good collection of international best sellers and fan-favorite genres, all original. There is a café on the rooftop, so you can take your book and get lost in it over a cup of coffee. Overall, this is a nice place if you’re looking for something to please your eyes as well as your soul.

Bookworm

The last place on our list is the bookworm. Located near the BAF Shaheen College, this place has been the main attraction to the students and young professionals. Bookworm has a cozy interior with a rustic design. The place itself is very spacious with over 10000 sq. ft. of spacious area.

The best thing about the place is its extensive collection of English books. You can find something from the past as well as recent releases. Their collection of Bengali books is also commendable. You can pick a book and find a cozy corner for yourself in the huge spread-out area. Being a one-floor bookstore, there is seemingly an endless aisle of books for you to please get lost in. Trust us, you will not regret paying a peek at this place.

Final Words

Books will forever remain a pleasant escape from reality. These bookstores in the list however alleviate that experience by creating an atmosphere that you can feel comfortable in. without any additional cost, you get to experience your books in an environment meant for the readers. And that is something quite priceless for a bibliophile.

  • Bookstore Cafés in Dhaka
  • 6 places bringing back the joy of reading
  • Pathak Shamabesh
  • PBS
  • Bengal Boi
  • The Reading Café
  • Baatighar
  • Bookworm
  • Bookstore Cafés

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