The touch of her coarse skin against the tip of your fingers. Her endearing smell; either as fresh as spring or of years of history and keep. That burning sensation as you flick through her last few sheets, forehead wrinkled in anticipation as you wait for her story to unfold.

Yes, that is what reading is all about. It’s not purely a matter of content, but is all about the whole - both mental and physical - experience. Books have the power to evoke memories and feelings that you simply can’t get from an austere looking piece of plastic a.k.a., e-readers and tablets. Books are a symbol of knowledge, wisdom and growth and believe it or not, ‘browsing’ through magazines isn’t enough to gain such attributes. Nepali authors such as Shanti Mishra, Sheeba Shah, Manjushree Thapa and Samrat Upadhaya have successfully made their presence felt worldwide and that is certainly a sign of the evolving reading culture in Nepal. The youth today make up a large portion of customers at book shops and many book suppliers say they find that to be the most satisfying and beautiful part of their job. But of course, we are teenagers after all, and everything we do has to come with a “fun” tag, am I right? And hiding in our dens all day long, reading a book, secluded from everyone is certainly not our idea of fun.


So, here’s some good news! Over the years, an increasing number of ‘reading cafés’ have cropped up in Kathmandu. And we bring to you four of our personal favourites. These cafés can serve as optimum alternatives to your usual hangout. Gather your buddies, chill and go through the collection of books these cafés have. With free Wi-Fi and welcoming ambience, these cafés are sure to inspire pleasurable reading!

Higher Ground Café

Traditional masks, vivid paper lamps, ethnic photography and warm hues of red, orange and green brighten up the scene at Higher Ground Café, in Jawalakhel, opposite the Standard Chartered Bank. The café was opened in 2006 with a vision to equip people from the underprivileged and marginalised communities and youth with income generation skills and job opportunities in order for them to sustain a quality life for themselves and their families. The café has a small collection of books, both in Nepali and English, some of which are the owner’s personal collection and others that are donated by customers. These books can be borrowed upon special request or be read at the café’s laid-back sofas as you savour the café’s standard café drinks, dessert and pastries, or opt for their all-day breakfast and continental meals. Higher Ground Café is planning to introduce a ‘book exchange club’ in the near future.

Om Pilgrims Book House & Om Pilgrims Restaurant and Bar
Started around 30 years ago, Om Pilgrims Book House has substantially expanded overtime making it the biggest book store in Nepal with a collection of over 100000 titles in a variety of languages, authors and subjects such as science, literature, religion, geology, fiction, cookery, politics and much more. Customers can also order any book of their choice and the staff there will make sure the book is available to them in time. Soak in the natural beauty as you relax, read or write postcard at the Om Pilgrims Restaurant and Bar (all vegetarian) which is located right behind the book store. First hand books start from Rs 499 whilst second hand/ budget books start from as little as Rs 49. Om Pilgrims Book House & Om Pilgrims Restaurant and Bar is located in Thamel, near Kathmandu Guest House.Café Cheeno Ethnic paubha paintings (traditional, symmetrical Buddhist drawings) adorn the ceiling whilst modern, chic furniture dots Café Cheeno, making it the perfect mix of traditional and contemporary. Nestled right beside Patan Dhoka, Café Cheeno is open from 7am to 9pm every day. In between the hustle and bustle of Patan, Cheeno offers a big and beautifully kept garden which serves as a perfect escape from one’s hectic schedule. They have lunch and dinner menus and also serve a wide variety of warm and cold drinks, cakes and cookies. On sale are first-hand fiction and nonfiction titles (starting from Rs 200), as well as various handicrafts by Indra-Kamal that serve as perfect gifts or souvenirs.                                                      
 

Café Cheeno

Ethnic paubha paintings (traditional, symmetrical Buddhist drawings) adorn the ceiling whilst modern, chic furniture dots Café Cheeno, making it the perfect mix of traditional and contemporary. Nestled right beside Patan Dhoka, Café Cheeno is open from 7am to 9pm every day. In between the hustle and bustle of Patan, Cheeno offers a big and beautifully kept garden which serves as a perfect escape from one’s hectic schedule. They have lunch and dinner menus and also serve a wide variety of warm and cold drinks, cakes and cookies. On sale are first-hand fiction and nonfiction titles (starting from Rs 200), as well as various handicrafts by Indra-Kamal that serve as perfect gifts or souvenirs.