I am the most un-expat-like person I know.
I don’t care where one can purchase bagels in Morocco—all the Moroccan varieties of fresh bread more than fill my belly and stimulate my senses. I don’t look for hairdressers because I trust one woman to cut my hair and she’s back in Los Angeles. And, lastly, I am not looking for English-speaking housekeepers and nannies—many of the self-named expat “ladies” with children do quest for nannies even though some don’t work outside the home. I don’t have children and I can clean my own place—although God knows I need to do it more often. But, there is one thing that I have hankered for in Morocco and that is English books. I read Arabic and French, but English is my comfort language. I can download books, but the delight of snuggling with a book to soothe both body and mind cannot be matched by digital.
Although English-language books and bookstores are very hard to come by in Morocco, I have found some options on cold nights when all I want to do is lay my hand on the strong spine of a book and hold it tightly, along with a café au lait (or the Moroccan version of coffee and milk, nus-nus):
If you’re in Fez, the American Language Center in Ville Nouvelle includes a bookshop for all your Anglophone reading desires. The spacious and bright store is located right next to the language-learning center. Also, you may want to check out the English Bookshop near Place de la Resistance.
If you’re in southern Morocco, drive over to Agadir. The Crown English Bookshop, close to the Tourism Office, has a small selection of second-hand English-language books. Also, try the American Language Center’s English bookstore.
In the capital of Rabat, you have more options. The American Language Center in the neighborhood of Hassan also has a bookstore for English readers. In the same neighborhood, you can visit the American Bookstore. The English Bookshop, near the Rabat Centre Ville train station houses mountains of both new and secondhand English-language fiction and nonfiction titles. But beware, you can peruse but there is barely any walking room to spare.
Casablanca’s American Language Center, like its counterparts in other cities, also carries a modest selection of books, priced a bit higher than in the US.
In Marrakesh’s Libraire Chatr you can browse stationary and office supplies along with classics in English, children’s books, and inexpensive cook books. In Gueliz, there is a café where you have a modest selection of books on sale and on loan while taking in the lovely relaxed atmosphere in comfy lounge chairs, not to mention the fragrant coffees, rich desserts, and wine selection at night.
Tangier’s American Language Center also has a book selection you can peruse and purchase. The recently refurbished Libraire des Colonnes has a large selection of French and Spanish books and a small selection in English. But the bookstore also has a long intellectual history and a collection of writers—Mohamed Choukri, Paul Bowles, and Jean Genet to name a few —with which it is associated. It is worth it to just visit this treasure of a bookstore with a long, rich cultural history, especially now it has been renovated and tasked with fresh literary and cultural projects.
I am sure that this collection is by no means exhaustive, or rather I hope it isn’t. I hope that I am able to research or, more likely, accidentally encounter an English bookstore or book stall while meandering through the country. If you have contributions to make to the list, I would love to be able to explore and blog them.