By Kathryn Murphy
When getting lost in a good book, I always feel more indulged while reading in the right setting.
Having that perfect reading corner in the back of a bookstore, under a blooming tree in the grass, or at a wooden table sipping on a vanilla latte while the smell of coffee consumes me.
Since moving to Prague two months ago, my first mission was to find places to both dive into my reading and find a good book to do so.
When I first arrived in Prague, I decided to read one of my favorite book series, Harry Potter. Adjusting to a new city halfway across the world from my small town in Iowa, this series brought me a sense of comfort while adjusting to Prague.
I explored my neighborhood, Vinohrady, when I arrived here first, and found a charming Italian Renaissance styled park, Grébovka (Havlíčkovy Sady) surrounded by statues and man-made stone caves.
When walking through the labyrinth of paths and staircases, benches are hidden away amongst the stonework; making for a peaceful private reading space. For a sunnier, more spacious reading area, I took to the many benches or open grasses on the hill overlooking the city by the Koi pond.
I knew once I was settled, I’d want to begin reading a book I haven’t previously read. With a quick google search, I found a few English bookstores that caught my eye. The first was a spacious brightly lit store featuring both Czech and English books located in Prague’s New Square called Academia Bookshop.
A quiet coffee shop was connected upstairs with small tables to sit and read quietly while overlooking the square with people walking along with their shopping bags. Although only featuring a small amount of English books their journal collection was booming with both colorful designs and great quality, so I ended up getting two.
The next shop I went to was by far my top choice for both their selection and reading spaces, Shakespeare a Synové by Charles Bridge. Right as you walk through the doors, the yellow light hits your face like a warm kiss from the sun.
Books were scattered all along wooden shelves and tables and even stacked in corners on the floor. It felt like I was being embraced in a hug as I walked past all their English genres from Sci-Fi to my personal favorite, Historical Fiction. As I made my way toward the back, a tall gentleman in a gray turtleneck and rounded spectacles greeted me with a large grin.
I noticed a spiral staircase with books hanging above each step and asked him where it led to. He replied “Many more options, have a look!” Before continuing to shelve a pile of nonfiction books.
I found a basement filled with older books stacked on more brown shelves, and many on the floor towering over battered couches and chairs.
In the back of the basement, a window was open and a green canal was flowing below. A seating area surrounding a glass coffee table in a corner surrounded by newspapers became my new favorite place to study.
If you’re anything like me, the right setting can turn a simple read into a story that comes to life in between your fingertips.
These places offered me the escape I indulge in every time I read a good book and the resources to continue doing so while studying abroad in Prague.