another literary weekend: frankfurt book fair

January 1, 1970

by S.a.lamis

hammering man
, the steel, grey, mechanic, monumental sculpture is what exactly Frankfurt means to me, as if it shouts:


Frankfurt is an industrial city of Germany.

And this city is not poetical.

But it is beautiful, in its own steel, grey, mechanic, monumental kind of way.

In terms of literary travel, it satisfies the traveller with various bookshops, a beautiful literature house with regular literary events, inspiring book-cafes, literary monuments and also an annual monumental event, which its origins could be traced back to Gutenberg, who developed printing five centuries ago.

frankfurt streets on a friday afternoon


readers, authors, artists, librarians, publishers, literary agencies, designers, academics, independent publishers, printers, bookshops owners, book enthusiasts, antiquarians, translators, bibliophiles… 

this is the weekend for us to celebrate the passion of reading.

top 11 hints and tips for the private visitors of the book fair 

I.  the first three hours are the less crowded times.

II. buy your ticket online and print it in advance to skip the queue.

III. it is wise to have extra cotton bags in your bag for all the paper-things you will be given or consciously collect from the stands.

IV. be selective about what you collect. there will be a lot of people trying to give you brochures, leaflets, free magazines from the first moment.

V. do not buy books on the first day, on the last day, they will be mostly 50 percent off. so, on the last day it is wise to bring a small hand luggage.

VI. if you will be there for both days, divide the halls according to the events you wish to attend.

VII. walk around with a note pad. take notes of the stall numbers you wish to take a look again.

VIII. do not forget to visit the second-hand stalls outside.

IX. do not forget to scan your ticket each time you go outside, otherwise you won’t be able to return to the fair on that day.

​X. visit the artists’ books hall. some of them are ridiculously over-priced, but some are really inspiring.

​XI. if you are a stamp lover, an ex-libris fan, or a fancy-christmas-card designer, you would love the stamp stall outside.


To fully grasp the literary spirit of the city, you’ll have to visit the monuments erected in their literary people’s honour. Goethe’s Monument at Goetheplatz is a must-see! But do not forget to visit the Gutenberg and his printers’ monument, which is not far from Goethe’s. If you have time, Adorno Monument, designed by artist Vadim Zakharov is also worth a visit!

I do literary travelling, which means bookshops are the very first places I visit. Yet since it was a book-fair-weekend, I could not go to all of the bookshops. These are the only ones I had chance to visit.

  • Ypsilon: Founded in ’78 as a socialist bookshop, Ypsilon is now a bohemian venue hosting regular art exhibitions, jazz events, literary readings. They also have English books. Berger Str. 18
  • Karl Marx: The name says it all. It was also founded in ‘70s, and it has kept its spirit throughout decades. One of the best bookshops in Europe, specialised in political and cultural studies. They also do book deliveries (free of charge in Frankfurt).  Jordanstr 11
  • Oscar Wilde:  This is an independent LGBT bookshop at the city centre of Frankfurt. It also provides good selection of LGBT magazines and brochures about recent activities. Alte G. 51
  • Hugendubel: Being the biggest bookstore in Frankfurt, this place is the best choice if you are fond of massive bookshops (in fact, I am not). Four floors full of books, magazines, DVDs, and stationery. There is also a room for English books. Steinweg 12


Literary Cafes

I enjoy reading and writing at cafés, who doesn’t? These two are really inspirational in terms of their literary ambiance.

Ypsilon Buchhandlung & Café: the sunday breakfast

Jazz events at nights, art exhibitions, literary readings… Plus, this bohemian venue is offering the best breakfast in town. I have tried their Sunday brunch before I rushed to the Book Sale at the fair, the food was fantastic.

Café Opitz: good wi-fi, good tea

Just outside of the Goethehaus, small but cosy Opitz Café has such a lovely atmosphere. It offers a good wifi, good variety of teas, very delicious cakes, and tastefully selected books on the shelves you can browse. Goethe-Törtchen cake is a must-try.


Author Houses

What do I expect to experience at an author house? I really do not know. But I know that I could spend half-an-afternoon staring at a beautifully carved Victorian desk, imagining myself being the author, writing those beautiful lines. It is like a meditation. So, the author houses are sine-qua-non for my literary trips.

Schopenhauer’s house: Schöne Aussicht 16

Unfortunately there is not a physical place where you can actually visit, but the building of the famous philosopher’s house, where he lived until his death, still stands there.  

Goethehaus: Großer Hirschgraben 23-25 

This is the Goethe’s family home where Goethe was born. I personally found the Writer’s Room very inspirational, the room where he wrote the “The Sorrows of Young Werther”.

The place is not only the Goethe family’s actual home, it is also a museum where Goethe’s original manuscripts are permanently exhibited. The museum also has a gallery dedicated to the “Age of Goethe”.

library at Goethehaus

In one of the rooms, there is a desk where you can write a letter with a feather quill pen. I never miss a chance to write with a feather quill pen. 

the Goethe museum entrance at Goethehaus

Since I’ve spent most of my time in the book-fair, I could not visit the beautiful Literaturhaus, German National Library and Frankfurt Main Cemetery for Adorno’s and Schopenhauer’s graves.

So there will be more of the literary haunts for my next adventure in Frankfurt!


By S.a.lamis

s.a.lamis is a literary traveller who reads in the morning, wanders during the day, writes at night, paints or dreams surreal things at dawn, rarely sleeps since she is also doing a PhD.


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