For Bookish Expats, Rome’s Little-Known English Library

For literature-loving, English-speaking expats, there's always a conundrum in living abroad: How do you keep up your reading without breaking the bank?

In Rome, there are several solutions. The most obvious are the city's (pretty high) number of English bookstores. Favorites include the Anglo-American Bookstore, the Almost Corner Bookshop, and The Lion Bookshop (stay tuned for an upcoming post on English bookstores in Rome). While it's great to browse shelf after shelf of the newest, best English books out there, the downside is that the (imported) books can be pricey.

The second option: a Kindle or other wireless device. (Yes, one bought in the U.S. will work in Italy). I've just gotten on the Kindle train myself, and I love it — it's super-convenient and light enough to carry around all day. (It's definitely made waiting for the bus a lot more bearable). The upside is that you have thousands of English books at your fingertips; the downside is that many books, particularly those that are slightly more obscure, old, or academic, still haven't been Kindlefied. Plus, while the prices are less than print prices, they still seem high for the book being, you know, electronic.

Luckily, there's also a third option for bookworms: the Santa Susanna Lending Library.

Located a stone's throw from Repubblica, the library — joined to the beautiful church of Santa Susanna — has dozens of shelves stocked with English books, from history to biographies to novels. Most seem to be a little on the older side, and it doesn't seem to be where you'd go to, say, get the newest book on the top of the N.Y. Times bestseller list. Still, it's a good option for those who'd like to get a fresh crop of books every week… and then return them. And it's pretty cool just that there's, you know, an English library in Rome. Of all places.

Plus, if you like used books, get ready: The library is hosting a used book sale starting on Friday, December 10. (The sale runs on Friday from 1pm-4pm, Saturday from 10am-12:30pm, and Sunday from 10am-12:30pm). Books will start as low as 10 cents. Yay!

The library is located at XX Settembre, 15 (next to the Santa Susanna Church). It's open weekends from 10am-12:30pm, Tuesdays from 10am-1pm, Wednesdays from 3pm-6pm, and Friday from 1pm-4pm. It costs 25 euros for a 3-month membership for one person, 40 euros for a 12-month, with a 5-book limit. For a family membership, with a 10-book limit, it's 35 euros for 6 months, 45 for 12. For more information, call 064827510 or email

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