If you're an avid reader, an artist, or just shopping for school supplies, this list should help you!
There aren't a whole lot of shops in Colombo that cater specially to art students. Artworld is one of the handful - it's a small shop, with a range of canvases, and paints and paintbrushes by big brands like Faber Castell, Camel and Acron. Luckily, the stuff is also affordable, so it's kind of ideal for amateur artists who don't have a lot of cash to spend.
I have a lot of praise for Senanayake bookshop. It has an absolutely fantastic selection.
It seems there are twenty or so regular customers who drop by on a weekly basis. So unlike a visit to the Sarasavi Bookshop nearby, here at the Warehouse you need not fear (literally) stepping on any toes or being jostled about . You can actually spend a couple of hours here with the entire fiction section to yourself, a rare treat.
This place is eerily reminiscent of Oregon State Hospital (The setting of ‘One Who Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’ ). But don’t let that put you off because the grim interior is redeemed by great customer service, and it is rarely crowded. They also have parking space, which is small but adequate.
A legendary figure on Colombo's secondhand book scene, Deen the Bookman has a vast selection of titles, from run-of-the-mills & boons to obscure medical titles. He runs a bookshop and a book lending centre located at Slave Island, with a whole variety of new and old tomes looking for a home. Deen’s been around for over three decades, and used to be one of the stops on the Maradana used book circuit, as any die-hard second hand book aficionado would know.
The Full Stop has the highest quality stationery in Colombo, at the highest price. If you want regular paper or a few pens and exercise books, your local stationer or someplace like Sarasavi is a better bet. If, however, you want a long-lasting moleskine or some fancy-glide pens that make you feel more productive for the one-week before you lose them, then Full Stop is the place.
Malee Book Centre is an underrated treasure trove of party equipment - especially Disney themed stuff. It's a small unassuming little store by the Kollupitiya junction - some of it is imported, everything is very affordable, and they've also got a good range of stationery and art supplies.
The Vijitha Yapa in Crescat has a great selection of comics and no textbooks, which means they have room for actual novels and international magazines. The selection is excellent but expensive. We do recommend it for gifts.
We loved Chapters. Although the selection of books isn't large and the bulk of it is not for everybody, you're still bound to find something you like to read here (or listen to, if you're into audio books). Or else you can always laze on the sofa, breeze through a Garfield comic, and sip on some coffee. Or try some love cake - they sell little boxes of Chapters love cake at the store too.
ProMate is a stationery shop, they’ve got a few pricey looking pens here and a huge collection of notebooks. Their whole brand practically revolves around notebooks; notepads, spiral pads, CADpads, memo pads, workbooks, scrapbooks, drawing books, etcetera.
Walk around the ground floor of Liberty Plaza and get lost in the maze that it is, and you'll stumble across a full-length glass cabinet in the corridor stuffed with books. It's more of a closet really, reminiscient of the cupboard under the stairs, but filled with books instead of spiders and cobwebs. Best part is, you can find whole sets of books as opposed to just a random bit from a series.
We love the fact that they encourage patrons to sit and read for as long they like, no purchasing required. If they don't have a book that you're looking for, let one of the employees know, they'll take down the details and try to get it down as early as possible.
I remember when Sarasavi Bookshop was a messy, crowded little store in Nugegoda, always full of jostling bodies and elbows. Going in for a leisurely browse was out of the question - it was a functional sort of shop and you generally went in there for a specific purpose. A large portion of the old Sarasavi's customers comprised of parents and schoolkids who used it as a one stop shop for all their back to school needs.
Happy reading, bookworms!
Order your favourite restaurant food amid curfew.
Countries that let you in without a fuss with your Lankan passport
The Station shows you how to make the classic Sri Lankan Hot Butter Cuttlefish.
Chocolate-biscuit-pudding is a dessert unique to Sri Lanka - here's an aunty showing you how it's done
We tasted every locally brewed and available beer. In the name of science!