I have been asked to do a post on my top picks of bookstores in Bombay. Let me just mention, before I go any further, I have mostly traveled on the Western line and my upbringing and college life mostly took place in the stretch between Dadar and Nariman Point. So, my top picks may seem limited and in all likelihood are limited.
But here goes, in no particular order:
- Crossword, Kemps Corner –
This bookstore has been there since I can remember. It was my go to bookstore for many many years. It is HUGE and has a relatively good collection of books. The bookstore makes it into the list because they have pretty, comfy chairs by their windows where you can sit, relax and read your pick of the day! Now what else could be better than that? Oh wait! It also has a coffee shop! That is just the cherry on top of it, don’t you think? During my college years, I would spend hours here, finally making my purchase and plopping at the coffee shop to have a sandwich and coffee. It was one of the first bookstores that came up with the café + bookshop idea in Bombay. It had a Moshe’s outlet so rest assured, it was yummy food. You need little else with this kind of setting.
- Kitab Khana, Fort –
Now this one has my heart. I discovered this bookstore after a friend recommended it to me and being the bibliomaniac that I am, I just had to check it out! Kitab Khana has a much larger variety of books than a Crossword, which is why I love going there. I generally end up finding many books that I may not find anywhere else. They also have a lovely café with yummy pastas and desserts. So really, it is hard to not get addicted to this bookstore.
- Strand bookstore, Fort –
I was introduced to Strand because my grandfather would visit it regularly and even had a membership with them. They still send us booklets of new releases and bestsellers with discounts. Therefore, this bookstore will forever have a special place in my life. I haven’t been there in a long time, but they usually have many academic books along with the other regular genres. I remember their staff being extremely helpful and knowledgeable as well.
- Title Waves, Bandra –
After I got married and moved to Juhu, Bombay, I had to find a bookstore in and around my area. Now, Bandra isn’t exactly in my area (it takes about 20 – 30mins to get there) but if you know Bombay at all, spending 20 – 30mins traveling is like a cool sea breeze on a warm sunny day. Title waves is a nice cozy bookstore with a Di Bella coffee shop. They get a new lot of books weekly so you will usually find at least 1 book that you ‘must buy’. And when you buy it, you can always sit at the coffee shop and wolf down the delectable waffles, sandwiches, shakes and coffees that they have on their menu.
- Wayword & Wise, Fort –
This bookstore has made it to the top of my list with only one visit! A friend I met over lunch recently, who shares my love for books, recommended this place. It is a quaint little bookstore opposite the GPO that has taken my heart and kept it! So currently Kitab Khana and Wayword & Wise are sharing my heart. The bookstore is just a few months old but I can already see it becoming a hit among readers, writers and book lovers. They curate books from abroad. Therefore, you will find many authors and books that you would usually not find anywhere else. Even with the authors you usually find elsewhere, there is a likelihood of you finding a cover that you haven’t seen before. The owner(s) are sweet and know their books! It was such a pleasure to meet one of them and have a conversation with him because not only does he understand and knows his books but he also introduced me to new authors and genres! I am always looking for that. They are also looking to introduce wine and coffee in their store and I hope that happens soon! In my first visit itself I ended up with a pile of 5 books that I cant wait to start with!
My top picks wouldn’t be complete without adding the roadside books that are available at Hutatma Chowk, Fort. You may not find as many makeshift bookstores on the road anymore due to licenses and cops but they have an amazing collection of second hand books.