Finding english books in Israel is not as easy as I naively expected. Most of the bookshops are overwhelmingly hebrew and it's only the Steimatzky chain that has a small section of english books, usually restricted to bestsellers. And the situation is even worse in Ber Sheva, where it's easier to find Russian bookstores than english ones. And also, bookstores with new books are nowhere as charismatic as second hand booksores, which have a character of their own. In bangalore, one of my favourite past times was to spend an entire evening slowly wandering from bookstore to bookstore, just browsing, occasionally buying, but mostly a way of meeting old friends in new covers, or new friends in brilliant leatherbound gear, all by accident. And a way to erase the cares and worries of the day. For a rabidly fanatic reader like me, staying in the middle of the desert simply means ransacking the libraries of all the people around here and occasional forays to the BGU library as well. So when I had a few hours to kill in Tel Aviv last week, I bravely spurned all the pleasures of city life- the pubs and the concerts- in order to take a look at the small bookstores that dot Allenby Street. It was great to see piles of books reaching from floor to ceiling selling at absurdly low prices (a poor student cannot afford new books, you see) and greater delight in recognizing titles of old favourites. I was like a kid in a candy store. Finally, I had to leave...reluctant but content with my best purchase: Louis de Bernieres' Captain Corelli's Mandolin, which, I am happy to report, managed to erase the film from my mind. Books good. Movie adaptations. BAD.
Update: looks like Jerusalem is THE place to go for books! (see comments). I'm ashamed to say that I've been there only once (hangs head) all this while. Now I have an added reason to get there. soon.