Where to find books in English in Berlin?
No. 4 – Curious Fox New and Used English Books in Neukölln. Excellent selection of Irish writers, lovely spot for a cup of tea.
The Curious Fox has its burrow on Flughafenstraße, where the hill dips down again from the Flughafen Tempelhof heights towards the shopping district around Rathaus Neukölln.
It is a cosy shop with a red sofa by the entrance and a couple of easy chairs in the back room – you can also get tea or coffee at the counter. Locals drop in for a chat as much as to browse the collection.
The second-hand section is considerable, fiction in the front room, nonfiction and genre literature in the back. The secondhand nonfiction titles range from the interesting (such as Wise Women – Women’s Writing through the Centuries) to the “interesting” (The Cosmic Pulse of Life). The fiction shelves are eclectic, but have plenty to offer.
Food and cookery books make up a small shelf, with only middle-of-the-road recipe books – nothing to grab my attention.
However, two sections in the shop are worth particular mention: the Irish/German collection and the new titles. The shelf opposite the counter offers secondhand and new books on Ireland or by Irish writers, as well as on Germany and by Germans. I admit I paid little attention to the latter, but I much enjoyed browsing the Irish selection. I found a couple of tempting titles, such as a memoir by John McGahern (who wrote Amongst Women, one of the Guardian’s 100 best novels, although I like his That They May Face The Rising Sun even more) and a copy of The Commitments that looked like it might be an early edition from the 90s. Roddy Doyle is a master of dialogue, no wonder his books are so well-adapted into hilarious movies (if you haven’t seen The Commitments, you’re missing out!). But I was impressed by The Woman Who Walked Into Doors, about Paula Spencer, a battered wife and alcoholic. It is written in the first person, and Doyle captures her with great tenderness and sympathy. However, while easy to miss among the puns and jokes, the same tenderness and sympathy characterise his earlier books, too. They are really about friendship and family loyalty, among all the fuss about Dublin soul bands and fast food vans.
As I couldn’t make up my mind among the Irish authors, I checked out the new titles, which made matters worse. An essay collection by George Orwell? The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion? Creative nonfiction heaven! The one book I eventually couldn’t leave in the shop was Proust and the Squid, by cognitive neuroscientist Maryanne Wolf. It promises to be The Story and Science behind the Reading Brain, which takes my book nerd level to unexpected heights. I can’t wait to get stuck into it.
Curious Fox New and Used English Books
Flughafenstr. 22, 12053 Berlin
U Rathaus Neukölln oder U Boddinstraße
Mon – Sat 10.00 – 19.00 h
Tell me: Did you ever find something special in a secondhand bookstore?