26 November 2020

📚 Bangkok's Oldest and Largest English Library 🍎

In 1869, 13 British and American ladies established the Bangkok Ladies' Library Association with the goal of circulating and sharing English language books which were extremely hard to come by in those days as books from overseas could take at least 6 months or more to arrive in Thailand via boat. The association was run every Sunday in out of the ladies houses but as the association grew and became more popular a dedicated space was needed so in 1914 a plot of land was purchased and so the Neilson Hays Library you see today was born.

For the longest time I have been searching Thailand for a good place to find English language books because although we have some amazing bookshops it can be expensive and most second hand bookshops don't have much of a selection to chose from, so finding this library was like finding treasure and I honestly cant believe I have gone my whole life without knowing of its existence until now.

The library is such a beautiful old European style building which is in vast contrast to the skyscrapers and Bangkok's tallest building, the Mahanakhon building which is just a short walk away from the library. The library may not look big in comparison but it houses over 20,000 books, the largest English collection in Bangkok so there's definitely something to suit all tastes. I was overjoyed to see a plethora of books from my favourite author Haruki Murakami and also all the A Song of Ice and Fire series by George RR Martin.

The library also hosts other events like storybook reading for children, a literary festival and bi-annual book sale which was one of the reasons for my visit there. I actually only found out about the library via a farmers market I visit every week as the weekend of the book sale they had a special hidden farmers market in the library gardens, so you could enjoy lunch and pick up some groceries after shopping for books at the book sale. I picked up 3 books at the sale for just ฿50 each, then wandered around the library, read a book, had some pizza for lunch in the library gardens and on my way out picked up a few cookies to take home for later.

Once I finish reading these books I will probably donate them back to the library as the library works on donations and volunteers alone and is Thailand's oldest not-for-profit organisation, it's definitely something I want to support being a lady who loves books just like the founders. I really hope the Neilson Hays Library can exist for many more centuries in the city and it's definitely worth a visit if you want to see something different as it's such a unique place to have in the middle of Bangkok.

What is your favourite book?
Love & Books

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