Exploring Leiden: Where to Find Literature in English

| Leiden International Centre

Struggling to find books in English or having the feeling that your Dutch level is not there yet to indulge in all the genres? Get ready to embark on a literary journey in Leiden as this article reveals several bookshops in the area that sell English literature. From old poetry to contemporary literature, Leiden has it all. 

Mayflower Bookshop is a must for all internationals. You can find this store in the historical centre of Leiden and is renowned for being the only international bookshop in the area. Mayflower offers a broad selection of genres that will capture your interest. The bookstore also sells second-hand books and offers special deals. On top of this, they organise numerous concerts as well as book events, including, poetry weekends, exploring the legacies of novels, and participating in meetings about recently published literature. From books about art & literature to traveling, science-fiction, horror, fantasy, and hobbies, Mayflower will certainly not let you down.

Another lovely bookstore just outside the centre of Leiden is Boekenzolder. The creators of this bookstore are volunteers, who share the hobby of transferring their book knowledge to each visitor. Although Boekenzolder mainly advertises Dutch books, don't fret as they also sell books in many other languages (Chinese, Afrikaans, French, etc.) including English. Their books cover many subjects, such as history, philosophy, comics, music, science, children's books, etc. Aside from their role in promoting books, Boekenzolder is also known to host various events with the aim to safeguard the literary and cultural identity of Leiden. 

Nestled in the heart of the centre, close to the Rijksmuseum van Oudheden and the Burcht van Leiden, lies the bookstore De Slegte Leiden. Within the shop, you'll find many unique books that uncover the mysteries of your imagination. From selling second-hand books to offering great deals, De Slegte is out there to surprise everyone. De Slegte Leiden offers books in more than 7 languages and currently has 7,000 books for sale in English on their website, covering many subjects including science, management, cooking, traveling, psychology, thrillers, and much more. 

If you're an avid poetry reader, discover INDEX Poetry.This bookshop is destined to elevate your literary experience. Located in the Herenstraat, in a small but elegant building, Index Poetry is up to par with many other top-notch bookstores in Leiden. Although their books are mainly printed in Dutch, they still provide a lot of poetry in English and plenty of other languages. These include Dutch poetry in English, poetry about the Dutch eighties & fifties movement, and selected works from the authors that you can find on Leiden's muurgedichten. Regular English poetry reading group sessions are also held at their venue. Aside from poetry, you can also broaden your knowledge by discovering many educational and professional books or stirring up your curiosity with all the non-fiction literature they have in stock. 

If you're aiming to find high quality books, be sure to stop by Bookstore De Kler, situated in the heart of Leiden within 5 mins of walking distance from Pieterskerk. De Kler has a big status within the book industry and is looking to maintain this image by spoiling you with the abundance of genres they have. It’s also one of the oldest bookstores still active, having been selling literature since 1876. Bookstore De Kler also has other shops in Leiderdorp, Oegstgeest, Wassenaar, Voorschoten and many more. The books cover many subjects and are published in four languages: German, Dutch, English & French. From books about history, societal issues, philosophy to fantasy, spirituality, and plants, you’re in for a treat. Aside from that, De Kler is also a great destination if you’re looking to buy nice gifts.  

The Last bookshop that you should set your eyes on is Boekhandel Kooyker. Close to the Rijkmuseum van Oudheden, Boekhandel Kooyker invites you to explore its broad collection of magazines and contemporary literature. Bookhandel Kooyker is also perfectly suited for those interested in academia offering a large collection of academic publications. Can’t seem to find your book in the correct language? The website solves this problem for you by offering books in more than 13 languages. You can also sign up for the Boekhandel Kooyker monthly newsletter to stay tuned for new book publications and events on their website. All in all, with over 25 genres in stock, Boekhandel Kooyker is there to embrace the beauty of literature.   

Leiden is undoubtedly a hub for those looking to find English literature. With many bookstores offering an array of genres that fulfil everyone's taste. As you explore these bookshops, you'll probably find many books written in Dutch as well. You can use this opportunity to start learning or improving your language skills by immersing yourself with Dutch books. There are plenty of organisations such as Uitgervij Eenvoudig Communiceren that encourage and assist individuals hoping to become better in Dutch. They offer books at all reading levels and provide study materials to improve your Dutch language skills, so make sure to visit their website.