When I recently revisited London, I unfortunately missed Independent Bookshop Week by just one week. But that did not stop me from visiting quite a few bookshops anyway.
I only had a few days to spend in this glorious city and there was loads on the to-do list. Squeezing everything into this short amount of time did not work, as always. You can never have enough time in London! Hence, sadly, I didn’t manage to go to all the bookshops I wanted, but perhaps this was not the worst thing considering that I had already spent way too much money on this trip…
Sooo… the following are the bookshops I went to. All of them are well stocked, fun to browse and highly recommended by me.
This. Is. Comic heaven. It’s one of the shops that are on the to-do list whenever we go to London now. The sheer mass of comics and graphic novels and books and geek merchandise makes the heart jump. Mostly that of my boyfriend, ha. But this time, we spent a solid hour in there because I, for a change, was too overwhelmed to decide for what to read first.
What I got:
‘Ms. Marvel, Vol. 1: No normal’ by G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona
‘The King In Yellow’ by Robert W. Chambers and I. N. J. Culbard
179 Shaftesbury Ave, London, WC2H 8JR
It was the first time I visited the Foyles flagship store on Charing Cross Road. Well, it is big! Because I had been walking for a whole day prior to going into this shop, I only managed to browse the first two floors before my feet gave in. What a whole lot of books… and a really nice atmosphere, too. I have the feeling you could spend an entire day here and would feel comfortable and entertained just looking through all the shelves and displays.
What I got:
‘The Guest Cat’ by Takashi Hiraide
Amsterdam Pocket Travel Guide by Lonely Planet (next short trip, possibly?)
107 Charing Cross Road, London, WC2H 0DT
Rough Trade East
Technically, this one is not a bookshop, it’s a record store. But there is a small area dedicated to an interesting selection of books here. They have books about music, books about London, books about art. And books about music and art in London. I love this store. After every visit of Brick Lane including foreign food tasting, market shopping and hipster watching, a visit of Rough Trade has to follow. This visit always consists of browsing the bookshelves first, then listening to lots of new album releases (on really good headphones) and finally having a hot chocolate in the café. Occasionally, one has to throw in a photo booth photo shoot for good measure.
What I got:
‘Young chasers’ by Circa Waves (OK, that’s a CD, not a book)
91 Brick Lane, London, E1 6QL
Brick Lane Bookshop
To me, this is one of the shops that just hold the old London shop character so well. It’s a bit crammed, a bit quaint, it almost looks a bit antique from the outside. In line with that, you can find a range of classic books on offer. But they also feature contemporary works, for instance a great collection of books about East London, as well as some odds and ends for the true bookworm.
What I got: 4x Little Black Classics
(‘The Beautifull Cassandra’ by Jane Austen;
‘The Old Nurse’s Story’ by Elizabeth Gaskell;
‘Lord Arthur Savile’s Crime’ by Oscar Wilde;
‘Olalla’ by Robert Louis Stevenson)
166 Brick Lane, London, E1 6RU
Upon entering this shop, the first impression is that it looks really open and inviting (for a comic book shop). Although it is rather small, you can find a good selection of everything you might want to find comic-wise. On the ground-floor, a versatile mix of recent graphic novels and zines is showcased, while downstairs, you can find a variety of old-school comics.
1 Berwick Street, London W1F 0DR
This small bookshop is well worth a visit – for the shop itself alone. Its nostalgic feel just draws you in. You find neatly arranged stacks of grey-covered books with titles you have probably never heard of. At least I haven’t. All of the titles are lesser known works of twentieth century writers (mostly women). These even include some cookbooks. Next to the book stacks you see bookmarks which feature the beautiful designs of the end papers of the corresponding books. These had to help me decide which book to take with me. After all I could not buy all of them, even though I would have liked to.
What I got:
‘The Shuttle’ by Frances Hodgson Burnett
59 Lamb’s Conduit Street, London, WC1N 3NB
Skoob is great for all people who are on the hunt for budget second hand books, even if these are academic volumes. This place is packed with them! It basically is a basement that only consists of rows and rows of bookshelves. And a bit of walking space inbetween. So, chances are they actually have what you are looking for. However, I think their array of books rather calls for browsing for a specific topic or an author rather than for a specific book. Just let the right book find you.
What I got:
‘Pride and Prejudice’ by Jane Austen, pocket flipback edition
66 Marchmont Street, London, WC1N 1AE