Book Bloggers Abroad (22) – Belgium


Book Bloggers AbroadWelcome to the weekly guest post in the Book Bloggers Abroad series. Every week a book blogger from a different country is featured who talks about what it’s like to be a book blogger where he or she lives.


Our guest blogger for today is Alexandra from Belgium. Her book blog is called The Sleepless Reader. She reads the classics as well as modern fiction, and some Steampunk, too! She also likes graphic novels. So, go and have a look at her blog!

I was born and raised in Lisbon, Portugal, but haven’t lived there for a while now. After the US and a brief stop in The Netherlands, I settled in Brussels, capital of (the Kingdom of) Belgium in 2005. I live with my boyfriend in an apartment very close to one of the city’s biggest parks.


Neighbourhoods in Brussels. Huge panels with comics are spread all over the city.

I never heard anyone say: “I’ve always wanted to visit Brussels” and have the feeling the city is only really appreciated by the people who live here. I’m a particular fan of the residential areas, where you’ll find amazing buildings in art-nouveau style, which has been a favourite since Art History classes. The headquarters of the European Union and NATO are here, so the city has a lively community of expats from all over the world. I would also highly recommend Brussels if you’re a fan of one or more of the following:

  • Chocolate
  • Beer
  • Waffles
  • French fries (a Belgian invention, go figure)
  • Graphic novels/comics

Brussels has two official languages: French and Dutch. I can read in English, Portuguese, Spanish and simple French. My work and social language is English, 90% of what I read is in English and I even dream and talk to myself in English, so it made sense to also blog in English 🙂 The exceptions are at home, where I speak Portuguese, and in the shops and restaurants where I speak French and basic words of Dutch.

Bookshops in Brussels

Some of my favorite bookshops - Sterling Books, Posada Art Books, Brüsel.

This of course influences where I get my books. My primary sources are either The Book Depository or “bookrings” from Bookcrossing. Because of the international community there are some good English bookshops in Brussels – I use Waterstones and Sterling Books. Posada Art Books is a lovely place that made it to The Guardian’s list of the most beautiful bookshops in the world.

For comics I usually go to Brüsel, or Multi-BD. It’s thanks to these two amazing stores that I get to practice reading in French, since I mostly buy graphic novels from Belgian authors. Hence my recommendation: the series Les Cités Obscures (in English, Cities of the Fantastic, available on Amazon) by François Schuiten and Benoît Peeters. Visually they are right up my alley and the stories are fascinating.

The couch at home

The corner of the couch where I read and blog. The apartment’s biggest bookshelf behind.

I usually read on my couch. We do have a terrace, but it’s rarely used because Belgian weather is tricky. For instance, while I write this, it’s mid-August and it’s pouring outside. When we do have good weather, we  usually go read in the Parc du Cinquantenaire or in a café, with a nice Belgian beer close by.

Park in Brussels

Reading in Parc du Cinquantenaire.


Click on the world for a Google Maps picture!

Thanks Alexandra, for letting us have a look at your life as a reader and blogger. What a great advertisement for Brussels your post is! I love Brussels and I can tell you do too!

Don’t forget to take a look at Alexandra’s blog. If you have any questions or comments for Alexandra, just leave them in the comments section.

Next week Jackie from the UK will be visiting us for the twenty-third Book Bloggers Abroad guest post. Don’t miss it!

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23 Responses to Book Bloggers Abroad (22) – Belgium

  1. What an interesting post! I must go and check out Alexandra’s blog now. I love all the info about Brussels and the bookshops there 🙂

  2. Pingback: Book Bloggers Abroad « The Sleepless Reader

  3. Andre says:

    What an amazing posting… Brussels can be really great at times!!

  4. Alex says:

    Thanks for having me!

    It was was fun to help give a bit of a spark to Brussels. Hope the Mayor’s office spots it 😉

  5. Tes says:

    Great guest post! I really love to visit Brussels some days soon 🙂

  6. Steph says:

    I’ve actually visited Brussels, but Alex’s post makes me think I probably missed a lot of its charm! I do agree though that the frites (fries) are amazing (though I would say the same of those in the Netherlands too!)!

    • leeswammes says:

      Oh dear, Steph, I’m not sure if the Belgians would appreciate that statement! 🙂

      They believe their fries are the nicest. I (Dutch) would agree, actually, although the Dutch fries are still very nice. The floppy English fries are have their charm (and taste), but the thin French fries as you get them in McD are just nothing like it, and I don’t like them too much. I don’t know if those thin ones are really French, actually.

      • Alex says:

        I feel Belgian when it comes to defend the Belgian chocolates, beers & frites 🙂

        Steph, next time you come here, I’ll take you to Maison Antoine and then you’ll see!

  7. Kris says:

    Waffles? French fries? and Chocolate?! Make room on the couch ‘cuz I’m headed over. lol It sounds wonderful..I would love to visit one the city one day.

  8. Suzanne says:

    mmmm chocolate and fries (not together though).

    Brussels is on my travel must visit list ….. one day, one day.

    ** off to check out Alexandra’s blog **

  9. Sue Jackson says:

    This post from Belgium was especially interesting to me – that’s where my husband is this week! He’s enjoyed it very much. He was staying in a small town but got to visit Antwerp and Brussels. I’m hoping he brings home chocolate!!

    Wish I could have gone with him – thanks for giving me a virtual visit!


    • Alex says:

      Recommendation: get him to bring you Pierre Marcolinni chocolates (shop in Sablon and Av. Louise). They’re not so much chocolates as works of art. They even have collections, as in, the Spring/Summer 2010 and collection…

  10. Pingback: Spotlight on the Wordpress.Com Book Bloggers! « Randomize ME

  11. “I have the feeling the city is only really appreciated by the people who live here.” Not true Alexandra, I have visited the city several times and I love it. It also helps that I am fond of chocolates and Belgian beer, of course 😉

    • Alex says:

      If people were here with “natives” and walked around the nice neighbourhoods like Ixelles they’d get a different perspective.

      Most tourists stop here shortly between Paris and Amsterdam and are just happy to see the Grand Place and the Manneken Pis… not enough!

      • leeswammes says:

        Alex, it’s probably the same everywhere. Here in the Netherlands it bothers me that most tourists don’t get further than Amsterdam, with a half-day trip to the bulb fields and maybe a quick visit to Volendam, the touristic fishing town that is so unlike what the rest of the Netherlands looks like.

        So, anyone planning to go to Brussels/Belgium or the Netherlands, make sure you check in with Alex and me first, to find out where else to go (yes, you are allowed to go to Amsterdam, if you feel you have to).

  12. leeswammes says:

    Thanks for this great post, Alexandra! I went to Brussels in May. You can read about it here:

  13. Can I just say that the INTL bloggers that participate in this have the most amazing rooms! I’m always jealous by the photos of their homes and surroundings.

    Thanks Alexandra for sharing a piece of your life with us!

    • Alex says:

      It’s all IKEA! Well… except for the books with actually something inside them, and the Palestine poster, actually bought in the Palestinian Territories.

      Thanks Mari!

  14. Shelley says:

    How wonderful to learn more about Alexandra and Brussels! I would love to travel there, but as yet I have never left the U.S. in my life, and I’m almost 40. I hope my later years are filled with more travel!

    • leeswammes says:

      I hope you’ll get a chance to travel, Shelley. Lots of people in Europe have been to different countries, but only within Europe. That’s quite similar to your situation, really. But it’s nice to see some more of the world!

  15. Esme says:

    What a lovely post-I visited Brussels many years ago-and quite enjoyed the fries with mayo-sad to say I was 20 years old that is my recipe along with the little boy statute and everyone watching soccer on television. My friend had relatives in the countryside.

    Yes you should change to Chocolate and Diamonds.

  16. lemon123 says:

    You’re right. I’ve never heard a person say I must get to Brussels. After your description, I would love to visit. I like the neighborhoods with Art Nouveau murals. Loved your article. Your couch does look comfy for book reading. Thank you so much for giving me a trip to another part of the world.

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