The Cafe Life
Finding a reading spot where the staff and space are welcoming can be a daunting task in a city like Shanghai. But there is hope! Many GGI Members in Shanghai are avid readers, and we have put together our personal guide for the best cozy spots to curl up with your book and get lost in it's pages.
Loushi Design Café
Address: 145 Nanchang Lu
This café is not commonly found on lists, but the space is extremely inviting for readers. There are a variety of couches, armchairs, tables and nooks that you can browse and choose from for your literary down time. The owner is extremely kind, and open to bookings for groups that come (she only asks that each person orders a drink). There’s even a semi-private area in the back that is very calm and isolated for some deep reading. Generally, the tone is very quiet, and the music is noninvasive, making it a great choice for that rainy Saturday reading destination.
As a GGI Shanghai Book Club member, myself, I highly recommend this spot. There’s something beautifully quirky about this café. The variety of decor makes your imagination go wild, which is the perfect headspace to be in before picking up your book. Pair a good read with a warm pot of herbal tea, and you’ll be in a reader’s paradise in no time.
Address: 254 Nanchang Lu #4
This is a great spot for people who like artsy vibes, and nooks to tuck away in with your book. A great sub in for lovers of Books in Space, which recently closed permanently due to a fire, Banshe Cafe can remind you of all the reasons why cafés can be some of the best places to be! And if your reading requires a feline companion? Banshe has you covered.
“You can order specialty teas, coffees, and homemade cakes via WeChat. Tuck in for an afternoon of reading at their communal table downstairs or one of several nooks above. You may be joined by the cafe's friendly cat. Look for a used book sales corner coming soon from Books in Shanghai (profits to benefit a local orphanage).” — GGI Shanghai Book Club Member, Shannon
Address: No. 1, lane 96, Shaoxing Road
The French Concession is relatively well known in Shanghai for its little lanes. But did you know that there are some really wonderful reading cafés hidden in those lanes? Chun Tasted is just the place to visit if you are looking for a beautiful setting while you crack open your most recent read. This space is also perfect for a little reading and writing combo time. If you need inspiration and a little bit of the right atmosphere, head on over to Chun Tasted.
“Chun Tasted on Shaoxing Lu is a serious hidden haven for getting work done. Its airy, bright, and on a quaint street in the Former French Concession that is definitely one of the most beautiful and picturesque streets, too” — GGI Asia & Oceania Manager Michelle
The Love Concept Café
68-1 Xiangyang Bei Lu, near Changle Lu, Jingan district
Some readers always come with a notebook; others come with a dog. This pet-friendly café is open to both kinds of literary lovers. With a sprinkling of tables and some cozy, cushioned chairs, you’ll be able to settle in and disappear into a world of your own.
“It is a small coffee shop, just with a couple of tables. They have a comfortable terrace with a huge table. I go here when I feel like reading and writing. The staff is super nice (the owner Karen Yang hired hearing impaired staff) This coffee shop is almost empty during the week, so I feel I have the coffee shop just for me.” — GGI Shanghai Book Club Member Olimpia
Long Time, No Read
1208 Yuyuan Lu
Looking to break a streak of literary deprivation? Long Time, No Read has your back. Technically a book store with a side of café, this little gem is a perfect spot for disappearing into your reading, surrounded by that “bookish” atmosphere we all love.
“Recently discovered this cool little book/stationery store with a cafe area when one of my book groups met there. Nice outside patio in the beautiful Jiangsu Lu area. Inventive food and drink menu, with crazy milkshakes if you need some sugary energy.” — GGI Shanghai Book Club Member Shannon
Why stay cooped up?
Looking for something a bit more outside of the box? Take advantage of the few beautiful, sunny days in Shanghai by reading outdoors. Reading inside is not for everyone! Shanghai may not have a lot of green space, but there are some options available for a sunny afternoon of reading with the cool breeze rustling your pages.
ECNU in Putuo has a lot of green space that attracts not only its students, but also a lot of locals. With small Chinese gardens, beautiful lawns, and the buzz of student life, you might be inspired to read for hours. Who knows? Maybe you’ll even apply to school by the time you leave the campus!
Many local areas have small green spaces that have planted flowers and benches. You might have to share the space with some dancing ayis, but the cool breeze and vegetation can feel like a little oasis in the city.
GGI Shanghai Book Club member Olimpia recommends Lujiazui Park: “It is an incredible oasis amid skyscrapers and financial buildings. For me, this is reading with a view. You cannot sit on the grass and picnic, but I invade one on the benches and enjoy reading. They are comfortable. You can see people walking and children’s playing but because it is not a ‘park’ park, it is actually quiet enough to read.” —GGI Shanghai Book Club Member Olimpia
If you don’t have time to waste, and you need the tried and true list, then GGI Shanghai’s Book club has you covered. Wander into one of these spots, and you’ll be begging the owner to keep the shop open just for you.