Of reading and sleeping and boa constrictors

The first time I went to Arkadia International Bookshop I was greeted warmly by the owner, Ian. “Come in, look around, lie down, take a nap,” he said.


He encouraged me to explore the whole store, starting downstairs, which is below street level. “You’ll find couches with Swiss Army blankets on them,” he said. “Feel free to stretch out and take a nap.”


With that in mind I did explore the shop, which just got better and better as it went on.


There’s a huge array of second-hand books, in many different languages.


Downstairs there are rooms that lead to rooms that lead to other rooms and finally to what Ian calls ‘The Chapel.’


Here there is a table, set in an alcove and laid with water and glasses for customers to enjoy.


The rooms are full of boxes of books, which you are encouraged to rifle through.


If they don’t have it, it probably doesn’t exist, with books apparently available on every subject.


Upstairs, customers gather and chat, drinking tea from a samovar. Regular events are held that include poetry readings and musical performances.


I didn’t take that nap but it sure was tempting.


Until I peeked inside the terrarium and realised I couldn’t see Zefiro anywhere….


Arkadia International Bookshop

Nervanderinkatu 11 (view map)
00100 Helsinki, Finland

Opening hours:
Tuesday–Friday 12.00–19.00
Saturday 10.00–18.00
Closed on Mondays and Sundays